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StumbleUpon Will Love Us Even When Google Doesn’t

With all the attention that Google Pagerank is getting now *yawn*… it’s a good time to talk of about the effectiveness of StumbleUpon.

SU has really been on a tear lately. According to Alexa, Stumbleupon has never ranked higher in its history, currently ranked 170 . It is also becoming more mainstream, now having over 3.7 million users (consider they only had 1 million in July 2006).

StumbleUpon Alexa Ranking

When I started writing this post, I was only going to talk about the StumbleUpon Toolbar Update for Firefox. If you’ve used Firefox recently, you’ve probably been prompted to install the latest toolbar update. Not sure about you, but I don’t like not knowing about what I’m upgrading. So the geek in me did a little digging and I came across the StumbleUpon for Firefox Changelog.

The update is worth it – see the StumbleUpon Blog’s report on SearchReviews:

StumbleUpon SearchReviews

You can now see who the friend that thumbed up each page in the SERPS.

Also while doing some research on this article, I came across the Unofficial StumbleUpon FAQ. There is some pretty good information on this page, such as giving premium users the ability to create their own groups (you might be surprised how effective a good group can be).

Here are some further resources to help your StumbleUpon knowledge:

StumbleUpon Help Forum

StumbleUpon Beta Toolbars

Here is a good pictorial on how StumbleUpon actually works:

How StumbleUpon Works

click on the image for a larger version (h/t arleas)

As social media and (quality) blogging now allow sites to rank very quickly, it will be interesting to see how this all pans out. Especially with a more level PR playing field.


  1. Worlds Smartest Man

    I love stumbleupon and could care less about pagerank. Great post!

  2. Mohsin

    As everyone else, StumbleUpon has sent me more traffic than Google, So I could care less about Google right now.

    Google rankings become useful when your blog/site becomes fairly large. Google traffic is more consistent than sporadic SU traffic, and there are more long term gains to be harvested with Google traffic 😉

  3. Kango Traveler

    Great find with that image showing how stumble-upon works, I always had wondered!

  4. roger

    Spot on article, and great point about Google. I think Google is dropping the ball here by getting rid of pagerank (ok, rumor, but I firmly believe it) without a viable substitute foreshadowed.

  5. Wrist Watches

    Yeah, im sick of this story too… im planning to start doing some interesting things and see if they get stumbled… any tips?

  6. Neil Matthews

    What is more there is no click fraud problem if you choose to use the sponsored stumble facility.

  7. Ravi Vora

    I love SU, no doubt. The only problem is that the traffic isn’t very targeted.

  8. Chris

    I agree that StumbleUpon is becoming more popular but don’t use Alexa data. They pull their numbers using unscientific methods and a very, very limited sample size. Compete (compete.com) is a lot more accurate. They get their data from over 2 million people including ISPs.

  9. Brad

    Agreed with above, the stumbleupon traffic is more of a clusterf*ck than anything.

  10. brian

    @worlds smartest man: thanks! you don’t get the world’s smartest man coming to your blog every day 🙂

    @moshin: good points. Google still needs to watch out for SU, since discovery is a whole other world of entry to the Internet without search. It’s possible for people to find good content just by stumbling through a category of interest.

    @kango: np dude.

    @roger: thanks, but they aren’t getting rid of PR, just penalizing paid links.

    @wrist watches: no clear answer on this, you just need to watch what works and not be a spammer.

    @neil: true, more targeted.

    @ravi: see neil’s point above you, that’s what their sponsored program is for.

    @chris: point taken about Alexa. I typically use that as an example since most people are familiar / can relate. Personally, I like Compete very much too, but both have their inherent issues and are notorious for being inaccurate at times.

  11. SigChat 4All

    Well it’s a great tool, but don’t put heavy importance on it because they have advertising campaigns that can be bought, that means the search results could be affected by who has paid to be listed higher up. So there is a great deal of inaccuracy within that – plus if someone wanted, you could pay StumbleUpon to be put up higher in the SERP listing (something which Google obviously doesn’t allow). Very interesting to see how this plays out.

  12. SEO Image

    The issue here will be conversions. Conversions for businesses are very important and can come at a better rate from targeted search traffic then from traffic that stumbles its way to you.

    For bloggers stubmles are the best source of traffic because bloggers want traffic that converts to readers. So for the blog sites that lost PR, I doubt it will have much effect at all. John Chow seems to be more popular since loosing Google rankings. – Go Figure.

  13. Tyson Williams

    Totally agree with you, I think Google is slipping as more and more people care less about it while social networking is taking off and more and more traffic cames from Digg and StumbleUpon sites to name just a few.

  14. Plague doctor

    SU traffic ,digg traffic ,and everything else is nothing compared to search engine traffics.

  15. Derrick

    So does that meaning buying votes on sites like subvert and profit is more valuable than buying adwords space on google?

  16. brian

    @brad: yes, SU brings it in.

    @SigChat: StumbleUpon is only coming into its own, too hard to call now.

    @Tyson: this is true. Google will have to make a move soon. And don’t worry, they will.

    @Derrick: don’t bother. Just write stuff that is good. Or be an artist. Or make movies. Or find things before others do and report it.

  17. roger

    People still use Google in droves. I don’t think they are losing any sleep over SU. But from the people making content are targeting other sources for traffic over tradition methods (SEO). No one is going to use SU for a specific search. Never. But the time people spend searching might lessen as these types of sites become more targeted.

  18. DaveW

    The effectiveness of Stumble vs. the effectiveness of Google really depends on the type of site. There are millions of corporate sites that need Google to drive traffic, and plenty of actions that are more Google driven than Stumble-driven. I think the two are complementary, not competitive services. Still, SEO/SEM people cannot ignore the effects of SMO/SMM, and every site/company should be embracing both.

  19. Earthship Biotecture

    great article, in looking at our traffic logs, organic traffic from google far outweighs anything else, but SU does consistently bring in a lot of traffic.


  20. techie

    Nice article dude.

  21. Jordan

    I’m glad to see that not everyone is fully sold on page rank.

    Social Media is the new PR!

  22. Mary G

    Traffic from SU may not be very targeted but it still generates more traffic than Google. I find it fun, too, to surf through various sites and at times finding a site that would interest me.

  23. Chris J

    Too bad no one realizes that stumbleupon’s tool bar tracks every page you visit even when not stumbling. So how does that compaire to google’s recent privacy attacks of searching??? It dwarfs that attack.

    If you really wanna know some dirt Alexa is much more of a privacy violator tracking what pages you go to and what items you purchase outside the Amazon network. That’s even worse of an issue.

    It all comes down to the toolbar of any company that can optionally be installed. They all track what pages you visit so your search history is nothing compaired to the data collected by a toolbar.

    Hehe… people don’t even know. Why? Because they are not reading the privacy statement.

  24. Posh Mama

    I really appreciate your article and you provided some valuable information especially about the recent upgrade. I will be sharing your article with my readers and friends. Thanks!

  25. brian

    @roger: Google isn’t going away, and that isn’t the point of the article. However, search can be incredibly stupid (e.g. out of context), so discovery engines such as StumbleUpon become interesting. While people might not be using SU for search, they might be able to stumble within a category and find better content.

    Don’t believe me? Try it. Do a search on Google for photos and then set up a user on StumbleUpon who’s only interest is photos and start stumbling.

    @worlds smartest man: word. Where else would the world’s smartest man show up but the NowSourcing blog? 🙂
    Ok, enough of this, it’s getting stupid.

  26. steven brezina

    The use of discovery services and consumer review will always be more valuable in indicating site quality then an essentially computer generated rank.
    SU is fantastic for finding interesting entertainment based content to me – it will become extremely valuable once the usage gets up to the point where business and information based websites gather more SU data.

  27. Kate

    Google won’t be going away, you’re absolutely right – but even though they won’t be completely replaced by social media, they are certainly losing revenue to sites like StumbleUpon nowadays.

    It’s not just about searching in the traditional form we’ve become accustomed – with friends sending each other articles galore and voting things up and down – I am getting all my search queries answered before I even know I’m searching for them…And Google can’t be too happy with that.

  28. Rahen Mckinny

    i love SU , and it provides good unique visitors , even google not

  29. What is Google?

    Why do you compare stumbleupon to google? Google is a search engine, people use it when they know what they want. SU is a time waster, people use it when they don’t know what to do with themselves. Like me…

  30. brian

    ok, catching up:

    @SEO Image: yes, targeted traffic is important for business. But, social media can promote sites into the search engines too.

    @Plague doctor: that’s relative to how well you rank on what and how many.

    @davew: well put. Let’s all sit around the campfire and sign songs 🙂

    @earthship biotecture: nice shameless plug!

    @techie: thanks, man.

    @jordan: It’s trying to be. I’ll give you that.

    @Mary: well, sometimes SU can be targeted if you are a paid sponsor. Also, sometimes you can get more Google traffic than from SU.

    @Chris J: you can always logout of the toolbar and also disable it. Even uninstalling.
    Last time I checked, lots of people also install Google Desktop and the Google Toolbar. What about those?

    @Posh Mama: share and enjoy. Throw over a link too. Cheers.

    @Mikey: glad to hear. Good plug for your site 🙂

    @steven brezina: nice point. The human factor makes things relavent. But, what about search sites like about?

    @kate: don’t worry, I’m sure Google is listening.

    @rahen: yes, SU rocks

    1 – I don’t know who nate777 is, but whatever
    2 – thanks, SherwoodME

    @what is Google: haha, it’s sucking you in. You’ll soon be called what is StumbleUpon 🙂

  31. Kermit

    I wrote two posts in two different blogs on this very subject today. Like you, I’m way tired of the Google furor. I don’t really think Google is to blame. Every one of the thousands of “SEO experts” (who seem completely interchangeable in any case) have somehow elevated Google to a god-like status. They are a search engine, just a search engine! I, for one, would like to have all of those millions of pages that have been made especially for Google, and have little to do with actual content, disappear overnight so that the real content is easier to get to.

  32. Chris

    I like Google Page rank. My website (www.SolarCoupons.com) is less than a month old and I’m on top for more search terms than I care to list. I get about 6 times the traffic from Google than StumbleUpon.

  33. carl

    Loved the comparison between Google and StumbleUpon. Gotta say I get more traffic from Google, but it very rarely does anything, SU traffic when it comes in is a mess but I get a few gems who are ready to buy and they buy big, but my best SE’s are actually Yahoo! and Ask, both of which have indexed a different set of pages from Google, and those pages are high converters. Just wish I knew how to get more traffic from Ask, they are dynamite.

  34. brian

    @kermit: yes, Google has been made that it is the only way to go by some. Still, you can’t blame them when you consider that it dominates the search market and also powers search results for other companies as well.

    @chris: glad to hear you are getting search traffic. FYI, your site is a PR 0, so I’m not sure why you’re so happy about PageRank.

    @carl: thanks, and interesting perspective. Your scenario is pretty different from everyone else that has written in. Ask has always been an interesting site and I’m glad to hear that you are getting some benefit from it.

  35. Stephanie

    Great post! Give Stumble Upon enough time and it will become a powerhouse. It has a drug effect on users. They can’t get enough. With an increase of over 2 million users in 3 months.. 2008 holds endless possibilities for SU.

  36. brian

    @stephanie: thanks! Yes, SU really is on a tear. Discovery is a very powerful of reaching people on the web, and it will be interesting to see what SU and other players do in the upcoming year.

  37. Monica Dillon

    This is a great post and I’m experiencing this now. I’ve started two sites recently – a blog and another site and have been using social media. It’s been so amazing to see how fast these sites are climbing, versus sites I’ve had for at least 3 years and friends have had for a while. The sites are in the 3 million and my friend’s is in the 8,000,000 as far as traffic. I’m learning alot. Thanks!! Monica

  38. brian

    @monica: that sounds impressive. Your sites are in the 3 million what – visitors a month? I’m sure the readers would benefit from your clarification.

  39. Colin Herridge

    I think the megalomane monopolistic drive behind Google, will kill Google in the end.
    Google changed the rules of the game overnight: all links from directories get wiped out. Google decides the importance of some directories. This is not democratic, this is Dictatorship.

    We loved Google, now we started hating Google.
    The attitudes of a Microsoft and a Google: there is no more difference.
    Anyhow The Greed Will Kill Google. Thank God !
    Greed always kills.


    Great post. The picture was really good on how stumbleupon works within its network. Cheers!

  41. david deangelo

    The most visitors I got from stumble upon was around 5 (when i used stumble upon, not considering my visitors stumbling my site). So I kinda suck at using stumble upon for traffic. Most of my traffic comes from Google.

  42. brian

    @colin: ok, but don’t count Google out. Last I checked, they were almost $700 a share.

    @chessnoid: thanks! Thought that the image speaks well for the service.

    @david: sometimes you stick with what works. That’s pretty low for StumbleUpon traffic, though.

  43. Kim

    Loved this article! Very informative. Special thanks to Posh Mama for sharing your link with me.

  44. brian

    @kim: thanks, and props to posh mama.

  45. justmo

    I am a big fan of stumble, and it’s a great traffic source.

  46. Matt Ellsworth

    great overview! I think you hit the nail on the head.

  47. Eric

    Great Post! Thanks!

  48. Megan

    Great Review. I see a lot of die hard stumblers here. I am with you. I use both. I think a good point is with Stumble upon and networking you build a respect for People. Regardless sometimes how targetted a group is it is much better to work with people who have already gained some respect from you social networking.
    Megan Vaillancourt

  49. David Deangelo

    StumbleUpon gave me a massive amount of traffic around August 2007 for a post I didn’t put much thought into. Crazy!

  50. dave so

    stumbleupon gives bursts of sporadic traffic, but google provides sustained long term traffic. both should be aimed for if you are trying to get decent traffic.

    dave so’s last blog post..Riga Stag do

  51. Joe

    Curious if there has been follow up on this. Does Stumbleupon still hold the same weight in the serps as it used to? I’ll stay subscribed to this thread in case anyone posts a thought on this.

    Joes last blog post..I Love Jesus But I Drink A Little