StumbleUpon is an amazing phenomenon which has become a very important source of traffic for those website owners who understand what it is and how it works.

I personally know how big the impact can be because over the last few weeks we have befitted twice from StumbleUpon traffic surges:

It’s a wonderful feeling opening Google Analytics and seeing thousands of extra people have visited your site.

This article will provide a quick guide to getting your site picked up by StumbleUpon, giving you the potential for attracting thousands of extra visitors.

What is StumbleUpon?

StumbleUpon, which is often referred to as SU, is a service that allows users to surf the internet randomly to find great sites, videos and photos all with a common theme.

For example, if I’m interested in model trains, I can use StumbleUpon to randomly show me lots of different sites related to model trains. What makes StumbleUpon special is that all the sites it displays have been chosen by its users, who can rate the sites as good or bad. This voting process means the quality of sites displayed continually improves.

The only way to really understand how it works is to sign up for a free account and start using it. It’s a great service which is fun to use.

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From a website owner’s point of view, if your pages get indexed by StumbleUpon and then get lots of “thumbs up” votes from SU users, you can suddenly find thousands of extra people visiting your site.

Why Use StumbleUpon?

Simply because it can drive huge numbers of new visitors to your website.

Some of these people will love what you do and bookmark your site or sign-up to your newsletter.

Others will decide to link to your site from their own, giving you valuable inbound links.

Be warned (but don’t be put off) most Stumblers spend less than 10 seconds on a site, but amongst these shooting stars there will be prospects who hang around… and return.

How Do You Get Your Pages Indexed By StumbleUpon?

Our success with SU, has meant that we have learned what types of content they like, and just as importantly, what they don’t like.

The first things to understand is how StumbleUpon works from a website owners point of view.

StumbleUpon users add a toolbar to their browser. This has a button that reads “Stumble” and two more buttons; one a thumbs up and the other a thumbs down.

Stumblers click the Stumble button, which takes them to a random page from the subject channel that they have chosen. When they arrive on the page they can give it a thumbs up or thumbs down depending on whether they like it or not.

The more thumbs up a page gets the more frequently it is displayed to other Stumblers. If a page gets lots of thumbs down it is de-listed.

It follows that
as a website owner you have two objectives.

OBJECTIVE #1 – Get the first few thumbs up so your page gets indexed (why not suggest to friends who may be interested, that they visit your site/page and give it a thumbs up on their SU toolbar if they like it).

OBJECTIVE #2 – Encourage lots of Stumblers to give your page additional thumbs up so that it continues to get displayed to other Stumblers. This is what drives the traffic to your site

StumbleUpon Friendly Content

I studied a lot of pages on StumbleUpon and c
reated a list of common themes.

I then created some pages on the SubHub website which included all these elements. The result was one out of the three articles I created got picked up.
This single page drove thousands of extra visitors to our site.

These are the guidelines I followed:

  • Unique Information – SU wants to introduce their users to content they won’t have seen elsewhere, so you need to make your content unique and exclusive
  • Standalone Content – Each article must be self contained, so a reader stumbling on it for the first time will immediately be able to understand what it is about
  • Make it Clear What the Content is About – Stumblers travel fast around the internet. They need to understand what your page is about within seconds of landing. An attention grabbing headline is essential and well thought through first paragraph is a must
  • Visually Attractive Layout – Visual impact is more important for Stumblers, than for your regular visitors, who are familiar with your content. Remember people who arrive via SU will be comparing your sites with dozens of other pages they have stumbled
  • Well Crafted Content - SU likes content that has been well thought through and looks like it has taken time to create
  • Downloads and Free Stuff – Content that provide something for free are very popular
  • How-to Articles, Resource Lists and Unique Insights – Sites that allow the reader to quickly learn something new about their area of interest are popular and tend to get positive referrals
  • Content That Fits a Channel – SU allocates content to one of their channels so make sure your content can easily be pigeonholed

Content That StumbleUpon Does Not Like
  • Personal Posts – If your post is about losing your pet cat or getting bad sunburn, however entertaining, it is unlikely to appeal to SU
  • Time-sensitive News – Breaking news tends to not get picked up as by the time it reaches most Stumblers it will be old news. There are other sites like which are much more interested in time-sensitive information
  • Long Rambling Articles – Stumblers are grazers. They tend to visit a lot of sites and read snippets of information of many of then. They tend not to read long detailed posts
  • Weekly Link Round-Ups – A very popular article formats is creating an end-of-week round up email with links to lots of relevant stories. This pages are often popular with a sites regular readers, but rarely get indexed on SU
  • Unclear Subject Matter – If your article is hard to classify, there is a good chance that it won’t get classified so don’t make the heading ambiguous – “Health Risks of Doing Voluntary Medical Work in a War Zone” is not good!
  • Brief Opinion Posts – short posts that give a personal opinion or review are rarely indexed
  • NEVER Have Pop-up Ads – I think I’m typical of most Stumblers. If I go to a page with a pop-up ad I immediately give it a thumbs down. If a website owner wastes my time, I want to do what I can to show my contempt for their site

How to Increase the Chance of Getting Stumbled

Stumblers make up their mind about whether they are going to stay on a page in a few seconds
. Therefore you must do everything you can to give them instant gratification:
  • Rapid Page Display – the fastest way to irritate a Stumbler is to have a slow loading page. Make sure everyone of your content pages appears quickly. If it doesn’t have a word with your developer (or sack him)
  • Promise Value. Deliver Value – Your headline should promise the reader great value if they invest their time in reading the content. Then you must deliver value by providing unique and valuable insights, advice and help
  • Striking Images – An arresting picture will grab attention. This is great start
  • Unclutter Your Pages – Make sure visitors can instantly see why your page has been indexed. Get rid of all unnecessary clutter

Insider StumbleUpon Tricks and Tactics

These are the tips and tricks that only frequent StumbleUpon users know about and understand:
  • The most important first step is to start regularly using StumbleUpon yourself. Only then will you really understand it from a user’s point of view. You will also witness first hand what content works and what doesn’t
  • Start stumbling other people’s articles in your subject area, but only give thumbs up to articles you genuinely like. Don’t Stumble just to get Stumbled!
  • Try to personally thank anyone who Stumbles your articles. It will encourage them to come back to your site
  • Stumbles from very active Stumblers are worth more than Stumbles from infrequent users, so pay special attention to who is Stumbling your pages. Make friends with active Stumblers
  • Swap Stumbles with friends colleagues, other bloggers, etc. Create a Stumble list and when you have some content you want Stumbled send out a plea to your friends to give it a thumbs up. Don’t do this too frequently or you could lose your friends! Make sure if your friends request Stumbles for their pages, you do it for them
  • Link to your StumbleUpon profile from your About Us page
  • Add a StumbleUpon icon to every content page
  • Ensure that you have other relevant articles listed at the end of the page to encourage Stumblers who liked the page to investigate more of your content
  • Make sure you have an email newsletter sign-up box and RSS link on EVERY page so it easy for visitors to sign-up. To encourage sign-ups offer free gifts to subscribers or run a competition


When all is said and done, the best way to drive StumbleUpon traffic to your website is to create great content that people want to give a thumbs up.

Make sure you have a StumbleUpon icon at the top and bottom of every page to make it easy.

To really understand what content
Stumblers like and don’t like start regularly using the service. This will not only provide marketing insight, but will also help you discover great new sources of content.

Enjoy this great resource!