Posted October 9, 2007 12:14 pm by with 11 comments

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The New York Times ran a piece on the social networking site StumbleUpon yesterday. StumbleUpon has 3.5 million registered users. They start with the idea that StumbleUpon gives people recommended web sites based on their interests (sites they give a “thumbs up” to) and history of previously stumbled sites. They want to help you discover new sites that you will probably like.

According to Quantcast and the data I ran Alexa, traffic from StumbleUpon still lags behind Digg. However, in my experience it’s easier and quicker unless you get promoted to the home page or rank highly on the site. I wonder how the model skews these results.

Quantcast chart comparing unique visitors between, digg, and StumbleUpon.
Quantcast Chart - Digg,, StumbleUpon

The idea started two years ago. You can download the StumbleUpon toolbar or go directly to the site to log sites. I’ve noticed on my own blog, the posts that were stumbled consistently bring me more traffic. They failed to mention how much spam there is on the site.

StumbleUpon now also lets you build a personal web page and share sites. Google has a similar service called Dice that also recommends web sites but it only does based on your searches and doesn’t include voting.

In May StumbleUpon was sold to the highest bidder. They passed on Google, AOL, and VC firms, and sold to eBay for $75 million. eBay hasn’t changed the site and so far, it isn’t profitable. Like when eBay bought Skype, I don’t quite see a good fit. But founders Geoff Smith and Garrett Camp are not asking questions.
StumbleUpon makes money off sponsored sites which are inserted alongside regular recommendations and are marked as such.

What strategies have brought you the best results?

  • Good call on StumbleSpam.

    We have been gaming Stumble Upon for quite a while now. The thing is, with stumble upon all you have to do is get a network of people together to share and trade stumbles. Once your network of friends reaches a critical mass, its easy to get your site over the ‘stumble-threshold’ and see some pretty decent traffic. Lately they have discrediting alot of stumbles that come from the same network of people, so automation and mass account creation looks like it will be necessary in the near future. However, I doubt it is worth the effort. Why?

    Because there one critical issues with stumble upon: The traffic bounces like crazy (meaning people stumble to your page and then bounce to another stumble right away) and also, what traffic does actually stick tends to convert VERY poorly.

  • Seocracy I actually find stumblers to bounce less than any other source of traffic that comes to my site.

  • for publisher like me, i find stubmleupon user is ad blind

    but i welcome any kind of traffic that comes

  • For having a new blog, StumbleUpon can generate some instant and impressive traffic results. For the most part, I’ve the seen the bounce rates from stumblers lower than other referring sites.

    It really depends on the results that you are looking for. If you want ad clicks, it may not be the best tool.

    However, if you have content and you want people who will be interested in your content, then StumbleUpon may be a good referrer.

    It is also apparent that Digg will not generate the type of traffic that StumbleUpon can even with the larger amounts of unique visitors unless you are on the main pages.

  • Micah, that’s an interesting point about the results you’re looking for. Not all traffic is created equal and traffic that’s good for one site isn’t necessarily good for another.

    I’ll also say that how you get that traffic comes into play. If you have content that genuinely appeals to the community then they’ll probably visit, like your content, and stick around for more. If you try to submit traffic that the community isn’t interested in just to get the traffic then it shouldn’t surprise you if they visit and quickly leave.

  • for the moment I only use Digg & StumbleUpon, but most of my visitors came from StumbleUpon 🙂

    as for – I think I’ll start using it too 🙂

  • I had no idea that ebay owned

    I’m a stumble junkie. I can spend hours a day stumbling when I’ve got nothing else to do.

    It’s how I found your site btw and I love it.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Jeremy

    The fact that StumbleUpon is listed in this elite group isn’t surprising. Ultimately, if you look at page views and bounce rate, it becomes a bit less impressive.

    If you stumble into a restaurant, how likely are you to order? If you planned to go to that business in the first place, the chance for a sale is much better.

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  • I prefer StumbleUpon over Digg. I dread hitting Diggs Front page has a nature of trashing servers!

  • I love StumbleUpon. From an SEO standpoint, I’ve used it to generate instant traffic and awareness of client websites and, from a personal standpoint, I’ve used it to discover hundreds more websites than I ever could through traditional search.

    Here’s everything you want to know about StumbleUpon…and maybe more!