What the Heck IS That Thing? Identifying Unknown Items

Have you ever purchased an interesting item at a yard sale or thrift store even though you had no idea what it was or who made it? If so, you probably started asking for help to identify it from members of your online eBay or Amazon group.

Now, what if I told you there’s a simple trick that in some cases can make identifying identifying unusual or unmarked items a snap. Ironically, it’s a tool you’ve had access to all along.

Want to know what it is?

Google images!

That’s right! I have to confess that I’ve really never paid much attention to Google images. It’s always just been a link on the toolbar that popped up whenever I needed to research a subject on the Internet.

I knew it could help me find images I wanted to perhaps see a photo of Johnny Depp or if I needed images for whatever project I was working on, but other than that, I really didn’t know what else it would do. A couple of months ago I learned that that you could use Google images to search the Internet and find out if other people are using your images on their website (or listings!) without your knowledge.

That’s a good thing to know and I’ve used it a time or two, but the biggest surprise for me is that Google Images is also a terrific tool for helping identify those unknown items you put off listing because you don’t know what to even call them.

And here’s the super cool part – instead of typing in keywords that you hope will help identify your item, you simply take a photo of it and upload the photo to Google. To do this, click on “Images” and then click on the camera icon that comes up in the search box. Upload your photo and Google does the rest. It uses your photo to look for other photos that match it and then displays the most similar images.

Keep in mind that Google’s search by image feature is not perfect and sometimes it’s very far off from what you’re actually looking for. As an example, it nailed a Vtech Alphabet Apple, but struggled to find a match of a frog business card holder.

When this happens, it tends to go by color and shape, or rather what Google thinks is a similar shape. This means that instead of getting images that looked like my cardholder, I ended up with images of everything from a smiling bald guy to a brown purse. You can help narrow the search a bit if you type in a description along with your photo.

While this might not work for every unknown item you come across, it still might keep you from spending hours of research on an item.

This guest post was contributed by Kat Simpson. Kat is a trusted eCommerce author, speaker, educator, and entrepreneur. Kat Simpson has been a successful eCommerce merchant for over 10 years; is an eBay Education Specialist and Gold Level PowerSeller, as well as a successful Amazon merchant. Currently Kat is the hosts the popular weekly eCommerce Podcast That Kat Radio and an active Facebook Group ThatKat.

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