Why We LOVE StumbleUpon

Google is no longer our best friend. StumbleUpon is our BFF.

Google was always the biggest source of traffic for this website. But around the beginning of March of this year, we suddenly lost a big slice of our traffic.

It was a couple of weeks after the Panda update, and coincided with our last redesign. We still don’t know the cause, and it still hasn’t recovered, although we believe we’re publishing better content than ever.

The graph below shows our total traffic (blue line) from December 2007 through to the present day (8 September 2011).

Google Boo!

The pink line below is Google. See how closely it tracks the total traffic (the blue line), until the dip in March of this year.

StumbleUpon, We Want to Have Your Babies

But what we lost from Google, we’ve gained from our new favourite friend – StumbleUpon – the orange line!

We got a bump in June 2010 (that first orange hump). Since then, we’ve done more to promote all social linking on the site. Did you notice the buttons at the top of the page? Don’t worry, there are more a bit lower down, so you can “like” this page there too.

This week is our busiest ever, in terms of visits. StumbleUpon traffic has hit an all-time high, with 33,000 visits – and there are still over 48 hours to go!

Now, I have to say that stumbling traffic isn’t the same as organic search traffic. When we get these “SUrges”, our average time on site and pages per visit metrics do drop, but it can all help to build awareness and exposure.

Web Site Owners, Get Social!

If you own a website, you need a really good reason not to include social buttons, so that people can tweet an article, “like” it on Facebook or Google+, add it to delicious or StumbleUpon, or add it to digg and Reddit.

There’s a big difference between these types of recommendation buttons and the “follow us on Facebook/Twitter” social links. They may also help, but they can’t cause spikes like these.

16 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Brian says:


    StumbleUpon is actually how I found you, not google. Your content is great and I’ve learned a tremendous lot.



    • Ben Hunt says:

      Thanks Brian. It’s good to know that stumblers do find something they like, and choose to follow.

  2. Luiz Marques says:

    I guess it depends on how “recommendable” your site is… I had AddThis on my site, but ended removing it since it was a significant fraction of the page size and had a tiny amount of clicks… (after reading an article with research on extra buttons and A/B testing showing worse response rates)

    I’m still keeping the +1 button, but I’ve been looking at Google Webmaster Tools and I’m not impressed with the number of extra clicks.

  3. Mike says:


    I have to disagree with the social media and stumbleupon for certain niches. You have to see where your “target” market hangs out and go there, and for many it’s not twitter, stumpleupon and others.


    • Ben Hunt says:

      I’m sure you’re right Mike. That would count as having a good reason not to use the buttons then.

  4. Shirley Wilson says:

    Thanks for sharing your insights and success you are having with StumbleUpon. I just recently started using StumbleUpon more and am trying to get the hang of it but still not really clear on how to make the most of it. Perhaps you could share some of your tips on HOW to best use it as a traffic driving tool?

    • Ben Hunt says:

      Hi Shirley.

      The two best tips I can give are:

      Make the social buttons prominent. We used to use AddThis buttons, but Dan recently devised a custom set for us.
      Make your content unique, noteworthy, newsworthy, remarkable, original, fresh. Give people a reason to love it, or to want to share it with others. That is the key to success on so many levels.

  5. Ryan Bradley says:

    Great article Ben, this a great reason to get back on StumleUpon. I kind of gave up on them after Google+.

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  9. Chrissie says:

    ((yea, working on my website – tis not very pretty at the mo :P))

    Hey! I actually found you through my weekly recommendations on Stumble Upon. I do have some questions though. I’m self taught in all things web and want to add these social networking links, but don’t know what the code would look like to point it to. I would also like to know how you found your analytic information.

    I looked at the big 5 website, and may just use them, but I’m huge into customization and want to learn more first.

    • Ben Hunt says:

      Hi Chrissie. Just check out the source code on pretty much any page in our Tutorials section.

      I actually made the Analytics graph by overlaying 3 different graphs in Photoshop. Google Analytics won’t let you compare different specific sources, as far as I know.

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  11. Justice Jonesie says:

    Great information. I get a decent amount if traffic from SU and I always wondered about the impact it has on views and returns.