Well this is it, sadly my holidays are over and later today I will be flying back to the UK, refreshed, revitalised, motivated and ready to get stuck in to some really hard work!

I know that you are gearing up for the same because during this last week I’ve had a huge flurry of emails as people start to think about new products for September and that all important run up to Christmas. Yes, I did just mention Christmas. Sorry.

Don’t worry though I won’t start harping on about it this week – I’ll save that for another time!

Okay, so you know how I love product sourcing? Well, I often receive emails from people asking me about my research methods for sourcing new products to sell online…

How do I know which products are hot? Which tools do I use to help me? And so on.

So today I thought I’d explain to you how to use one particular tool, which I use on a daily basis and is extremely useful when it comes to product sourcing!

The free product sourcing tool you should be using on a daily basis…

This tool is one that you will probably already have heard of… Google Trends.

We are all aware that Google is the place to be for searching don’t we! The search engine has in fact grown so popular that it has actually become a verb – to Google! And, with so many millions of searches happening every day through Google, it’s no wonder that this information can be to your benefit when buying and selling goods online, whether through eBay, Amazon or your own website.

You can literally utilise the power of Google for product research using an online tool which is just sitting there!

I’m talking about Google Trends – a seemingly simple webpage run by Google and linked directly to the Google search engine. This site allows you to search for any term that you want and see, at a glance, how many searches that particular search term has received over the last few years.

More than that, you can narrow the results down by a particular country, a particular region within that country and even a particular span of time.

Whether you want to see how often people have searched for iPhones over the course of the last four years, or how often people have searched for Jimmy Choo shoes in the last 30 days, Google Trends will show you whatever you want to know! Sounds good doesn’t it?

So, with that in mind let’s run through the step by step process of actually using the Google Trends tool.

Step 1 – Load the Google Trends Website

Your first step is to visit the Google Trends website, either by entering Google Trends into a search engine or heading straight for the website itself at the following address: http://www.google.co.uk/trends/

You’ll see a search bar along with a list of current Hot Searches. Don’t worry if the initial page shows up results for the USA as we’ll be able to narrow the results down to a UK audience after your search.

Step 2 – Enter Your Search Term, or Terms

You can search for as many different terms as you want to at once, simply by separating them with commas. I recommend starting with one or two keywords or phrases at a time until you’re used to the tool. Maybe you could experiment with a couple of products that you’re thinking about selling, for example “Yoga DVD, Fitness DVD”.

Once you’re happy with your selections click the ‘Search Trends’ button to get the results.

Step 3 – Narrow down Your Search

Towards the top right of the results screen you will see a couple of dropdown menus. The first will display the text ‘All Regions’, and the second ‘All Years’.

The All Regions menu will allow you to specify a particular country, for example the United Kingdom. With a country selected, the page will then update and allow you to specify a sub-region of the country, such as England or Scotland; this could be useful if you’re looking to sell to a specific geographic location.

The final dropdown menu, ‘All Years’, allows you to see more specific results from a more specific time, for example the last 30 days, or over the course of the last 12 months.

Have a play with this particular dropdown menu to see the different results; a graph showing a lot of years might not show detail but you’ll be able to spot trends over different times of the year for some seasonal items, whereas a graph showing just the last year could show you more detail about how popular your particular item is.

Step 4 – Analyse Your Results

While you’re getting used to the Google Trends tool you might just want to have a play around to see how the different dropdown menus will affect the graph displayed to you, however once you’re past that point you’ll need to start thinking about the actual results.

The information provided by Google here is incredibly useful. Let’s stick with the example of Yoga DVD for a moment; from a brief look around the Google Trends tool I’ve spotted the following pieces of information that could really help with my selling strategy:

– Although the search term Yoga DVD only started to appear from the middle of 2010, it quickly overtook the more established Pilates DVD.

– Despite a big spike at the start of 2012, it seems that the number of searches for Yoga DVD has dropped, almost back to the level of Pilates DVD – perhaps people are searching for a new form of exercise now?

– The results for both Yoga and Pilates seem to show spikes at the start of each new year. Could this be the after-Christmas desire to lose weight? Perhaps that would be a good time of year to secure some stock to sell?

Do you see how this can work to your advantage? Look at the results for your own search terms and see if you can come up with some similar revelations. This could really help you to understand why some of your products sell better at one time than another, or help you to work out whether a new product is worth the investment of your time and money.

You should also compare the results that you take from Google Trends with items already for sale on eBay and with Amazon’s bestseller lists in particular categories to make sure that the products you’re considering are really selling.

It’s always best to combine other research methods with Google Trends so that you get a really clear picture, but it is a fantastic place to start, and there is nothing quite like it to help you to spot items that could soon be increasing in popularity or that have proven to be consistently good sellers over the months and years.

Add Google Trends to your research repertoire and you could find yourself being the eBay seller always on top of the latest hot product trends!