June 10 2009

StumbleUpon Is One Wacky Site

stumbleupon logoStumbleUpon has to be one of the oddest sources of Web traffic ever invented.

For those unfamiliar with StumbleUpon (SU), it is a social bookmarking site that allows you to recommend pages to other users by giving them a “thumbs up”.  Other users can then discover pages you favorited by “stumbling” through pages people have saved.  While it can be a powerful tool for generating traffic, I find “the StumbleUpon effect” far more powerful than “the Digg effect”.

Ever since Digg took off, people have gone nuts trying to get on the front page of the site for the crush of traffic it will bring you for the time you are on the page.  The problem is that once you scroll off the front page, you get next to no residual traffic over the following months.  With StumbleUpon, you may or may not get the initial traffic rush, but you do definitely get a long simmering source of traffic.

Back on May 8th of this year I posted an article of Who Is The Best Star Trek Captain.  While the post did get some traffic during the initial few days, it quickly died off to a trickle of as few as single-digit readers some days.  Now, on Monday, June 8th, I have no clue what happened, but you can see the traffic report from during the evening below.  (click for a larger view)


I don’t normally share my traffic numbers, but this is so odd that I just had to.  What caused this explosive upswing in traffic is beyond me, but I know for sure it all came from StumbleUpon.  This isn’t the first time I have seen this happen, but it was one of the best examples of it, and with the best graphical representation of the situation.

While I have heard other bloggers talk about this bizarre jump in traffic from SU before, no one seems to completely understand what causes it, but we all enjoy it.  This is also why I have given up even caring about Digg.  Sure it’s nice to get that big bump on the first day, butI would rather continue getting traffic long after that first day, and it also tends to be traffic that will explore your site more than the typical Digg user will.

Of course this doesn’t happen to every post that gets on to StumbleUpon, but more often than not it does.  Why the bump happens in a mystery, but not one I plan on arguing with anytime soon.

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