The StumbleUpon Effect

by Ed Lau on August 4, 2007

It’s no secret that getting on the front page of Digg will virtually inundate you with new visitors and a giant traffic spike. I experienced this first hand when I got Dugg for a post I made on the only electric car I’d consider cool and soon after, I had over 900 Diggs and close to 25,000 new views over a day and a half. Digg was near unopposed when it came to social bookmarking. Netscape, Reddit and have their niches but for sheer power and popularity, nothing brings the traffic like making it on the front page of Digg.

However, lately, StumbleUpon has quietly crept up on Kevin Rose and his site. I have to admit, I was very surprised as when I first heard of StumbleUpon, I thought the idea was ridiculous. I remember it was John Chow that told me about SU. We were talking about why the heck there are so many toolbars out these days, most of which are useless. Personally, I like to run an entirely clean browser to maximize browsing screen real estate so you can imagine my reaction to “People download this toolbar and they can press “Stumble!” which will bring them to a random site for them to “StumbleUpon”.” Honestly, I didn’t see the appeal. However, recently, I’ve seen exactly how powerful and effective of a blog promotion tool StumbleUpon can be.

I posted regarding Japadog, a Japanese hot dog stand in Vancouver, on July 11th without thinking too much about it. Michael told me he Dugg and Stumbled my post so I was hoping to get a couple more visitors but I wasn’t expecting too much. It is difficult to get anywhere on Digg these days unless you have pictures of celebrities getting out of cars with no underwear or another rehashed “Top 10″ list of some sort. Nothing really happened to that post as a result of Digg.

However, in terms of StumbleUpon, I’ve received a massive jump in traffic due to that post. It started on July 18th with just over 1,700 visitors and grew to over 2,000 on the 19th and peaked at 2,800 on the 20th (which was a Friday…). 18 days since I first made it on StumbleUpon, there have only been five days I have not received at least 100 visitors from SU and of the other 13 days, I received at least 1,000 uniques (over 2,000 on five days). That’s over 20,000 unique vistors just from Stumble. The awesome part is…I don’t think it’s over!

And that’s only for my Japadog post! I’ve been getting a good amount of traffic from SU for my Simpsons Movie review as well! So it might take longer but StumbleUpon definitely has the potential to send as much traffic to a blog as Digg. However, keep some things in mind:

  1. SU users, for the most part, also don’t click as many ads as organic traffic from search engines. The CTR is far below average. However, no traffic is bad traffic…it’s still a better deal than not getting traffic from them at all.
  2. SU users are much more likely to stick around than the average Digg user. Digg users usually read the page they came for and leave quick. SU users stay for an average of almost two and a half pages.
  3. Digg is full of jackasses. It’s true…the haterade is strong on that site. StumbleUpon users are less likely to flame you but also less likely to leave feedback in general
  4. There is currently no “auto-bury” feature on StumbleUpon if you happen to have a “digg-army” give you a hand. However, I’m also not quite sure how StumbleUpon actually works since it’s been a surprise every time I received a tornado of visitors from SU. I assume you can just get a bunch of friends with the toolbar to press the “I like it!” button but since SU is entirely random in terms of where they send their users after they hit the “Stumble!” button, a “Stumble-Upon army” probably isn’t as effective as its Digg counterpart formerly was.
  5. You can actually buy traffic from StumbleUpon but since StumbleUpon users are less likely to click ads or sign up for affiliate deals than organic traffic, this is probably not a great money making idea. Remember, the best way to gain traffic and make money blogging is to…well, write awesome stuff. If you awesome it, they will come.
  6. So while I hate messing up my clean browser window, even I have a StumbleUpon toolbar attached to the top now.

    in Tech and the Net

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Leo August 4, 2007 at 2:42 pm

Yeah, I have to say SU has been a significant source of traffic to my site and a far more friendlier bunch as a whole.


Charles Online Review August 4, 2007 at 9:25 pm

I just find so many bookmarking sites to use… It can be daunting.. Digg is really very hard to get on the front page now… Looks like StumbleUpon is the new “blue ocean” now…


ms danielle August 5, 2007 at 10:23 am

hey great article, it’s good that you included the bullet-points. i actually like SU traffic bc in the last month, i’ve gotten a lot of good traffic numbers from them. i’m seeing the same results, about 2.0+ ppv, and an average of almost 2 mins on the site. they also have the lowest bounce rate of all my top 10 referrers, so it looks like to me SU users are more likely to cruise around your site out of curiosity than the average surfer. i stumbled ur post the other day btw, you were offline. i hope you’re seeing great stats on that article too!


Michael Kwan August 5, 2007 at 5:49 pm

I just stumbled for this post:

And I got a few hundred visitors as a result. Contrary to what you mention above, these guys actually seem to click ads. I guess it depends on the topic?


derek August 5, 2007 at 9:18 pm

I too have found SU to be a very good source for traffic and it seems to sustain longer than the digg traffic. I recently experienced my first digg as well and had a huge spike for a few days and then it tapered off.

But when you get a post on SU, it can bring you a nice level of traffic for weeks.


Namagem August 6, 2007 at 5:02 am

I just happen to have got here, to this page, via SU. I completely agree with your finding, I dedicate at least an hour a day to stumbling, and I often find blogs like this one that I thumb-up.

Here’s to free publicity!


Dennis Plucinik September 13, 2007 at 10:54 pm

Stumbleupon has brought over 100k hits to a single post of mine in the last 2 weeks. I hope that’s news to someone. It certainly has shocked me.


Ryan September 14, 2007 at 7:18 pm

Haha, I found your blog on, you guessed it, SU. Nice article, :P


doug m September 20, 2007 at 10:35 am

stumbled here. good post, i haven’t seen a big surge from either yet but my blog is still new so we’ll see which one turns out to be better


mike September 21, 2007 at 6:37 am

Stumbled to this page. BTW, you dont have to have the toolbar even. Activate hotkeys and hide it. I, myself run a clean interface with only a firefox tabsbar at the bottom and only a thin menubar at the top where the adressfield an google searched field i crammed in.


Marco September 21, 2007 at 7:07 am

So while I hate messing up my clean browser window, even I have a StumbleUpon toolbar attached to the top now.

Ghehe, you’re not the only one.. Same over here..

Good post, Stumbled and you should make a post in a couple of days if many SU-user have read this article :)


Ryan of the RSL September 25, 2007 at 7:50 pm

I am a big SU guy – I think it’s a great service – but I have also seen the power of digg as well. I just have to underscore one major difference between the two and I will use your own words to say it:

Digg is full of jackasses. It’s true…the haterade is strong on that site. StumbleUpon users are less likely to flame you but also less likely to leave feedback in general.

Amen. I couldn’t say it better. So pick your poison or take both – but know that most people who have been properly exposed to both: regularly enjoy StumbleUpon and just use digg.


Moizelle September 26, 2007 at 4:33 pm

SU literally rocks. If the extra toolbar bothers you I suggest Firefox. You can with bit of toggling configure it to have only one added button, ie next to Stop button, clicking that will bring out the SU toolbar or hide it again. I stumble pretty much each day for 10 minutes, or well, sometimes bit longer ;O)


Legacyb4 October 19, 2007 at 12:20 pm

Yup, I’ve found that the content on Digg is pretty hit and miss while the stuff coming through StumbleUpon is far more interesting and varied. I’ve seen a lot more of the Web through SU than Digg in the past few months…


Guy Jolly May 17, 2012 at 12:05 am

And almost 5 years later SumbleUpon has brought you yet another person :) I decided to commemorate this moment by defying a few of your points at the end, so:
1. I clicked whatever ads I saw (point 1 defeated! MWHAHAHAA!)
2. I actually tend to not stick around much when I stumble so I probably won’t be going to any other pages. Sorry about that. (point 2 defeated! HAZZAH!)
3. Ummmmm…flame flame flame! (point 3 defeat..ed…sort of?)

Well that is about all I can do. Have a good day!


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