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Is Find the Needle any good?

Good news: Find the Needle is better than many of the other online directories – certainly from the perspective that their sales people aren’t so pushy.

However, most of the online directories still have the same issue – Google has very little interest in making their customers visible when people type relevant phrases.

If people are searching Google for what you sell, but Find the Needle pages (linking to your products or services) are not showing in the search results, then how would people find you via Find the Needle?

Whether you buy into the Find the Needle offering depends on the same types of factors as when considering Applegate, as discussed in another blog we wrote about Applegate Marketplace.

The factors to consider are:

  1. How well do Find the Needle get potential buyers to their website in the first place, and specifically, to your profile on their website?  This is probably the most important point.
  2. If people get to your profile on the Find the Needle website then does your profile appeal to them (enough to want to find out more)?
  3. How many people actually make contact with you via Find the Needle, or click through to your website from your listing on their website?
  4. How effectively does your website convert visitors (who clicked from Find the Needle) into enquiries?

That factor 4 is also very relevant – if Find the Needle (or any directory) sends you lots of visitors but your website is weak, then you’re not going to get a return on investment.  You certainly couldn’t blame Find the Needle for that particular point.


Visitors from Find the Needle to your website

The easiest element to measure (using A1WebStats, but could also be analysed using other analytics tools) are the number of people who click through from Find the Needle to your website.

The view below, taken from the A1WebStats ‘Referrers’ function, shows that during that month (March 2024), the website owner had only two visitors from Find the Needle, whereas they had 10 visitors from another directory …

Example of how many find the needle visitors there were to a website

Here’s the visit of one of those two, showing what the visitor looked at page by page …

Example of a find the needle website visitor page by page movements

If neither of those two visitors became enquiries then the website owner would probably be thinking the following:

  1. Two people was a very low number to get from Find the Needle.
  2. Breaking that Find the Needle subscription cost into 12 months, how much has been ‘wasted’ in that month (through getting no enquiries)?
  3. There’s a need to keep a close eye on what return on investment is being gained from Find the Needle.

So who’s at fault when Find the Needle only generate low visitor numbers?

Is it Find the Needle that’s at fault, because they haven’t generated enough visitors to their website, which should lead to people who click through to your website?

Or is it the website owner that’s at fault because their Find the Needle profile isn’t strong enough/they’re not paying enough for them to boost their visibility?

The answer is that it’s usually both of the above.


Should you pay more?

Typically, directories like Find the Needle try to encourage you to spend more with them because that’s designed to give you more visibility on their website, which should (in theory) result in more people going to your profile page and more of those people making contact with you, or going to your website to find out more.

The problem though is that it’s a leap of faith to spend more money with any online directory, as there are no guarantees.  Find the Needle may be able to guarantee that your profile will be raised within their directory but they can’t guarantee the ‘right’ types of people will be seeing that profile.

They also can’t guarantee that people will find their website when doing relevant Google searches, which takes us onto …


Test Find the Needle searches for yourself

Think about the types of search phrases people may type into Google, which would make Find the Needle listings appear prominently.    This could be for any type of business, not necessarily your own.

Type those phrases into Google and then scroll through the results, looking for any visibility of Find the Needle listings.

If there’s poor visibility of Find the Needle pages in the search results then that’s telling you something because if you can’t find things when searching then how could it possibly work for your own business?


How online directories need to evolve

Whatever they say (and this goes for them all, not just Find the Needle) about the benefits of being on their directory, there’s only one thing that counts – you getting enquiries that you can confidently say originated from a directory, which means you’re getting a return on investment.

Our view of how online directories need to evolve is as follows …


Stop telling lies

Find the Needle are not as guilty of this as some other directories.

Online business directories are there to get subscription payments from those who list on them and although free listings are provided, they ultimately want to sell enhanced (paid) listings.

While those listings do have some advantages IF people find those listings in the first place (because they have more detail), the directories tend to make wild claims about how important it is to have those enhanced listings, including that it’ll help your SEO.

There is a tiny bit of truth there because links from places that have good domain authority (DA) can help with SEO, but there are numerous sources you can get such backlinks from (that don’t cost you so much).

Here, for example, is an example of a (paying advertiser on Find the Needle) backlink, which shows a domain authority of 43 (out of 100), which is reasonable, but nowhere near many of the other links they have to their website (which are in the 80’s and 90’s out of 100):

Example of the domain authority of a  find the needle paid link

Sales people from online directories scaremonger people into keeping their paid advertising to avoid it having a negative impact on their SEO.   That’s a lie – the impact would be minimal if anything.

They also claim that you’ll get less traffic to your directory listing.  That may be true for people who get to Find the Needle in the first place but how are they going to get there unless they’ve found something in Google search results?   It’s not as if people think “I need something – quick, I’ll go and check out Find the Needle first of all”.   Of course not, they go to Google (or the increasingly savvy people will use AI search systems to find exactly what they’re looking for and bypass online directories and Google completely).

And here’s something else they do: they tell you that you’ve had lots of profile views and many have clicked through to your website.   When you counter that with a comment that your own website visitors analytics data doesn’t show all those clicks to your website, they make claims that Google and others block such visibility.  That’s complete rubbish – in the A1WebStats system we can see every click from a referring website.


Free before fee

At A1WebStats we offer everyone a 30 day free trial.  Most of those people are primarily interested in identifying the company names that their website visitors were from but increasingly we’re finding that people use us to find out more about their website visitors overall (which includes insights into which external websites brought visitors to them – such as Find the Needle in this example).

We actually put a lot of effort/time into our trial subscribers and we don’t make a penny until a trial subscriber has purchased.

In short, we want people to fully ‘get’ the value of what we offer and because the nature of what we provide is instant, a month is plenty of time.

Find the Needle (and others) need to adopt a similar mindset.  They need to give potential buyers a much stronger profile within their directory, put more effort into ensuring that potential buyers find the directory, and do it all totally for free for at least 3-6 months.

Why 3-6 months?  Because any SEO visibility for your directory profile will need time to become effective (two months should be enough) – that’s IF such SEO achieves anything.

Within that time period the potential buyer can analyse their webstats (to see how many visitors have come from the directory, and be asking enquirers questions such as “how did you find our website?” (looking out for people saying “Find the Needle”).


Friendly fee arrangements

Although subscribers have the option to get discounts for paying 12 months for A1WebStats, most pay month to month with there only ever being a one month commitment.

The online directories need to offer similar.



The online directories could easily be tracking companies that go to their own websites, including which sections they get to, and could be offering packages that give exclusivity to certain types of buyers.

For example, all people who visit Find the Needle and go to the Widgets section could be filtered down to those identifiable as companies and those details automatically emailed to subscriber(s) who want to know when people are looking at the Widgets part of the website.   So, those companies may not have even looked at their own profile page, but if they’re interested in widgets then they could feasibly be contacted.


So, should you buy into Find the Needle?

Some online directories work effectively for their advertisers, but most rely on buyer ignorance and take their fee each year.

That’s not to say that Find the Needle wouldn’t benefit you but you should test the water before making a significant financial commitment.

Chances are that you’ve already got a free profile on there and so already have the ability (via webstats) to see how many visitors that brings you each month (if you don’t, you can use our free 30 day trial to see that information).

It’s worth asking if they’ll boost your profile for you, with a view to attracting more visitors to your website (which you can track) and also more calls directly from your profile within Find the Needle.   If they put the effort in and you benefit then you would (of course) be willing to continue paying for a service that gets you results.

But please don’t just buy ‘on a promise’ – we see the website statistics of so many businesses and overall, the traffic from such directories is rather weak.


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  1. Find the Needle does not result in many direct enquiries for us and is quite expensive!

  2. Koala says:

    I have had the dubious pleasure of receiving a call from one of their reps company has no interest and the information they had was very out of date then rep calls me I kid you not 25 times to tell me why I should take a call no one wants if this is an example of their working practice I would keep well away