StumbleUpon: It’s NOT About the SEO! 4 Compelling Reasons to Become a Heavy StumbleUpon User.

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O.K., I am going to admit that I first joined StumbleUpon as part of a strategy that the “SEO [Search Engine Optimization] Gurus” recommend to create backlinks to your blog content from social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit.  The idea being that the more links you have from other sites, the higher your SEO will be.  And, as anyone who has ever used StumbleUpon just for this reason will tell you, you quickly realize that you are just wasting your time because just by thumbing up your own blog posts you are not gaining any significant additional traffic to your website.  From my own analysis, most of these types of people either stop wasting their time or hire a Virtual Assistant to do the “Social Bookmarking” for them.

And you know what?  These people are missing out on so much that StumbleUpon offers.

Below are 4 compelling reasons why you should start using StumbleUpon.  Yes, I know, SU had its heyday and is facing competition from sites like Digg and Reddit.  In fact, many lament that StumbleUpon is on its way down.  I disagree: the strength of SU is in its algorithm which delivers as promised: it helps you discover the Web.  And if we all start becoming heavy users, users like you and me can help raise the quality and freshness of the content that appears when we stumble.  So let’s start stumbling!

1) StumbleUpon Helps You Discover the Best of the Web…in Less Time

I often get asked where to go to find relevant information with all of these blogs and Web 2.0 sites out there.  Look no further: the more you stumble, the more relevant of user-voted sites it will recommend to you.  It’s simple: you install the StumbleUpon browser toolbar, and whenever you see something you like or dislike, you select the thumbs-up or thumbs-down button.  You don’t have to do it for every site, but the more you do it, the more SU will know about you and your interests.  Then, when you are ready to “Stumble,” or randomly view a site that the StumbleUpon algorithm recommends to you, you simply select “Stumble” and you will be navigated to a site that was selected based in part on your previous rankings.  I have found some great and relevant blog posts on SU that just didn’t show up on other popular social media channels in this way.  If you want to find more targeted information, StumbleUpon also gives you the option of “Stumbling” by category, so that all of your results would only be websites that others categorized for you.

If StumbleUpon sounds addicting, you’re right!

2) StumbleUpon Helps You Find Interesting People to Follow

Once you find a website that you like, assuming that you are not the first to submit the site to StumbleUpon, you can also see who first submitted the site as well as who else favorited the post.  You can then go to their profiles for more potential informative websites to discover.  You can consider it “social networking connected by ideas” because these people are giving the same opinions on the same websites that you are!  It can work the other way around as well: if you submit your own “discovery” or first-time submitted website, you can see who else favorited it afterwards and find relevant people to follow in this way.

Once you find people you want to “follow,” you “subscribe” to their feeds of websites that they favorited.  You can then go to your customized feed, similar to your Twitter or Facebook Wall, to discover new content.  But it’s more than just a Twitter stream of tweets: you can discover new websites by most recent views, top rated, most shares, or even categorized by the tags that interest you.  The more relevant the content is of the people you “subscribe” to, the better the content will appear both in your stumbling as well as on your “Discover” page on SU.

3) StumbleUpon has a Unique Advertising System: You Can Buy Traffic to Your Website

What if you still want to somehow tap in to the StumbleUpon market and use it to drive traffic to your website?  SU actually welcomes advertisements, at 5 cents apiece, to the URL and category of your choice.  SU reviews each advertisement submission to ensure that the content matches the proposed category, but if it does, you can now insert whatever website you want into the stream of content that stumblers view.  The more thumb ups you receive, the more other stumblers will start to see your content.

I know this sounds weird, but if you are confident in your content, why not lead SU users to quickly discover your site?  On the other hand, if you just want to lead people to a landing page or sell something to them, chances are this strategy will work against you and you will receive thumb downs, which will prevent others from stumbling your site.  My advice: utilize a blog post that adds value and indirectly leads people to want to see the rest of your website.  Social Media Marketing 101.

Also, if 5 cents a view sounds cheap, it is.  The reason?  Visitors from SU have notoriously high bounce rates.  After all, some of them were “just stumbling!”

4) Yes, Using StumbleUpon Will Lead to More Traffic to Your Website…Organically

At the end of the day, similar to a Twitter ReTweet, as you stumble more content and hopefully start discovering a lot of new content that has yet to be stumbled, you will gain new subscribers who will see more and more of your content.  Since you can’t automate following and un-following like you can on Twitter, you are  required to physically vet out those that you want to subscribe to and begin relationships with (isn’t that what social media is supposed to be about?).  It also requires you to share more information about websites that you recommend and less self-promotion about your own, similar to Twitter.  But should you have the right content, have created the right relationships on StumbleUpon, and have shared in the thousands of websites and thus have become a “StumbleUpon Channel” for others, the potential rewards for traffic back to your own website are huge: I have seen websites that have registered 100,000+ views just from SU alone.

I have only been using SU over the last few months, so I am still discovering new ways of using it.  Heavy users, I am sure, have longer lists of benefits.  But hopefully the above will convince you to stop sitting on the sidelines ans start stumbling!

How have your experiences been?  Do you prefer another social bookmarking site to it?  Please inform us all!  And please feel free to subscribe to my content on StumbleUpon!

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Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer


Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness & @socialtoolssmmt | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker
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Neal Schaffer


  1. David_Guion says

    I quickly gave up on StumbleUpon for the same reasons you mention in your first paragraph. Based on your recommendation, I will bookmark this post for future reference and give stumbling another try. Thanks.

  2. says

    Hi, Neal, so great you've decided to make this post!! We've actually met in Stumble Upon due to our common websites interests, something hardly possible in any other Social Network – even LinkedIn. Although I'm present in all the major ones, SU is my prime choice for great content and great people!

    Keep up the great work!!



  3. says


    Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! Indeed, you are a great case study of someone I met purely through StumbleUpon. Keep stumbling! 😉


  4. says

    So far, the recommendations sent to me in StumbleUpon are about as useful as the home page of YouTube. I take a quick glance if I have a second, but usually just delete it. When I have fully developed the other, more predictable social networks, then I'll take a closer look at SU.

    Cheers, Bruce

    Bruce Hoag, PhD, CPsychol
    Work Psychologist

  5. says

    Good post Neal. The beauty of SU in my mind is that it delivers brand new readers to a site, people stumble randomly and it is our job to hook the reader and have them stay for more than 20 seconds :-)

  6. says


    The recommendations are only as good as the people you follow. Read my Twitter 101 blog post: DON'T UPLOAD YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS BOOK!!! Instead, search for people who submitted relevant blog posts and go from there. Give it another try! You'll be hooked sooner than later 😉


  7. says

    I just downloaded the SU browser last night. For the sole purpose of getting a couple of my sites more traffic. I ended up searching for about 2 hours. Its GREAT! There are a ton of sites you would never see, without using the stumble upon browser.

    If its that fun just to surf, than you know your site will get seem alot! Its addictive!

  8. says

    Those are 4 great reasons for using SU. I do find, however, that once in a while, when I do stumble my own posts, I get a flurry of activity. And then, months later, I'll get another and another…they seem to cycle once stumbled. Not sure how that works, but I'll take it.

  9. says

    Hey Bill, the activity is definitely inconsistent…but it was not the SEO value but the other value of StumbleUpon that I was trying to get others to focus upon. Glad that you agree that they are 4 great reasons to use SU!

  10. Anonymous says

    omg! that’s hella lame. I hate how you have to “Sign Up Through Facebook” crap for EVERYTHING these days! It was better when it wasnt affilated with facebook and you can instantly look at random sites w/o signing in to your facebook account where everyone can see wtf your doing!! I still like stumble upon but i just dont like the facebook login BS thats on it.

    • says

      If you’re only looking for hard conversions from social media you’re going to be in for a long wait. A social approach developing soft conversions and nurturing them into hard ones through fostering relationships would be my advice.

  11. says

    I love stumbleupon and have twice received over 1000 uniques in a day. It was absolutely crazy. I still don’t know what I did and I’ve been trying to duplicate the process ever since, but I still get around 30-70 uniques a day. 
    I know it’s been said a million times, but the trick is to 
    a) Enjoy Stumbleupon 
    b) Stumble your friend’s stumbles
    c) Stumble within your niche
    d) make sure the contest you put is attention grabbing. 

    Stumbling is like flipping the remote; you have just seconds to grab people’s attention. Since I have a dog blog, I make sure I stumble pages that have great pictures, and most importantly, that they are visible above the fold.

  12. says

    Why do you say it’s cheap? 5 cents per view it’s actually pretty expensive. I have a post on my website that received 20k stumbles. Now think about it, 5 cents multiplied by 20k = 1000 $. I would have never paid this amount of money for 20.000 views.

  13. says

    I say cheap in relative terms, because a PPC ad costs much higher than that, so in terms of paid traffic, it’s one of the least expensive forms out there. And if you can convert 1% of our 20,000 stumbles = 200 users on a $50 product = $10,000, your $1,000 investment is looking pretty cheap if you ask me 😉

  14. says

    What about us poor folks who just want to explore the web for ourselves? We have nothing to sell, . . nor are we interested in who (whom?) else is looking at the same sites we are. I just want to learn something new every day. I’m 65 and worked in research until I retired; now I just want to read about things I find interesting. I don’t need to follow anyone,, my extensive list of interests used to take me to thousands of web sites all by itself What happened to that Stumble Upon, the one that required no social media to exist? .

    • says

      That StumbleUpon still exists. If you don’t like something in your stream, you simply thumb it down to send the creators of that content that their marketing is unacceptable. I believe that StumbleUpon, as do all social networks, still maintain a “User’s First” motto.

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