The Secret to Getting Highly Targeted Traffic from StumbleUpon

Since late 2010, StumbleUpon has been one of the top sources of social media traffic in the US, even surpassing Faceboook as a referrer.

In fact, using StumbleUpon to drive traffic to your site can produce some amazing results. According to Shell Harris, StumbleUpon basically built her website TopTenz. Here are some of her stumble numbers that she shared:


That’s huge traffic, and it can create some pretty lucrative income stream. The only problem is that traffic isn’t very targeted, and your conversion rates may suck.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a modest stream of traffic but high conversion rates rather than high traffic stream and low conversion rates.

Let’s look at how you can get a high-quality traffic stream from StumbleUpon.

Step #1: Become a stumbler

You won’t be able to use StumbleUpon correctly unless you become a stumbler. If this is new to you, to “stumble” simply means to discover web pages by clicking the StumbleUpon button on your browser bar.

This is what it looks like on Chrome:

stumbleupon button

StumbleUpon will deliver articles, images, videos and much more based upon your profile and interests. You’ll then get to vote on whether you like those suggestions or not. The more you stumble, share and vote, the better the algo gets at predicting what you like.

Now, since you’ll be using StumbleUpon to promote your own blog in hopes of getting targeted traffic, you need to stumble and vote on pages that are similar to your content.

What this does is it identifies other stumblers who have similar to yours ratings and usage patterns. This will get content you stumble, eventually including your own, in front of these users as they stumble. If one of these users sees your content and likes it, that person submits it for others to see. That gives your content a chance to become part of a chain reaction, where high-quality stumblers share it with other high-quality stumblers.

Step #2: Follow like-minded stumblers

StumbleUpon is unique in that users are clustered into very specific categories depending upon your stumbles, preferences and even connections.

stumbleupon follow

For example, you may be an entrepreneur and not have that much in common with everyone who is in that category.

But after dozens of very specific stumbles and votes, you’ll eventually be getting stumbles based on a very narrow brand of entrepreneurship that interests you.

In other words, you’ll start to get matched with highly targeted stumblers who think like you and who will probably even be interested in engaging with you and your content.

If you and other users start to thumb up similar content, then StumbleUpon may eventually show your content to those users.

Step #3: Submit interesting web pages – and not just yours.

You can certainly promote your own content on StumbleUpon, but if that is all you do, then it’s not likely that you will create a strong following since, like all social platforms, StumbleUpon works well when you are social. That means that you contribute other people’s valuable content to the discussion.

Besides, StumbleUpon does monitor user activity and may prohibit activity if all you do is promote your own stuff.

The point of StumbleUpon is to build up content in its collection that adds value to the community. This will keep you in good standing according to their Terms of Service and add credibility to your name in the community.

Keep in mind that you can view which of your discoveries have been viewed the most. It will give you an indication of what people like and don’t like to see.

This will be helpful when it comes to sharing your own content…you want to be able to submit content that will resonate with the audience.

Step #4: Create clear web pages

When it comes to optimizing your site for the StumbleUpon community, there is one really important rule you must remember: the content on your page must be crystal clear to anyone who sees your page.

Stumblers like to explore pages that are designed to make sense and appear to reward exploration. Give the Stumbler visuals and good writing, along with links to other content on your site to encourage deeper exploring.

TED is a good example of this.


When you land on one of its pages, it’s clear from the start what the user must do.

That includes additional options that the Stumbler can explore like a bio to read or other videos to watch.

This is why you never want to submit a Home or About page. You want to submit something specific like The Real Secret to 1,000 Subscribers in 60 Days or Less and 6 Branding Approaches They Forgot to Teach You in Business School. Specific articles are more likely to be shared, discussed or saved by fellow stumblers.

Step #5: Try StumbleUpon Paid Discovery

Sometimes you may not get the traction you would like from your organic efforts on StumbleUpon. Or maybe you simply don’t have the time to wait for natural discovery.

You can speed up the process with Paid Discovery.

The nice thing about Paid Discovery is that it sends traffic directly to your site, whereas with Facebook ads, for instance, you buy a small ad and hope that people will see it.

If your site doesn’t violate any of the content rules of StumbleUpon, then you have three plans to choose from.

The cost is based upon how much you want to spend per visitor.

A campaign is broken down into 6 steps:

  1. Enter the URL – This is going to be the page that you want stumblers to visit. To track this via Google Analytics, you can enter a utm_parameter by adding this to the end of the URL
  2. Choose topics – StumbleUpon gives you the option to choose up to 10 topics, or you can let it guess the topics based upon the content. You also have the option to split campaigns into topics if you want.
  3. Choose your audience – Set the demographics you want this content to get in front of based upon age, gender, location or device. Alternatively, let StumbleUpon optimize this for you.
  4. Set your budget – A priority placement will bump you to the front of the que. Or you can upgrade and set your highest daily spend, which will calculate how many visitors it will send to your site based upon your plan and budget. A budget of $30 a day will send you 300 visitors a day.
  5. Schedule – Finally, if you set the campaign to start immediately once the ad is approved, then it will run until you run out of money. Or you can set campaign dates so that the submitted page shows up over a period of time.
  6. Add funds – From your dashboard, go to the Account area and add funds from your PayPal account or credit card.

Finally, here are some tips to help you optimize your Paid Discovery campaigns:

  • Try your content in multiple categories to test what works best. StumbleUpon’s new metric score is a great way to see which categories drive the most stumbles.
  • To find out which categories are the most popular, you can select “manual targeting” before you submit your content to Paid Discovery.

Step #6: Use StumbleUpon Badges

Another way to get targeted traffic is to have your visitors submit your page, vote or share your content via the StumbleUpon badge.

stumbleupon badge

Putting this badge on your site is easy since it requires no coding…just simple cut and paste.

Of course, if you prefer to customize it, you can use StumbleUpon’s badge API. You’ll get all the information you need to build a badge perfectly suited to your site.

This customization will also help you offer information on the badge like if that page has already been submitted, how many stumbles it’s gotten and the pages thumbnail and meta data on StumbleUpon.


While StumbleUpon is not often in the spotlight like other social platforms, e.g., Pinterest, Instagram or Tumblr, it’s still a great workhorse for delivering high-quality traffic…if you do it right.

And, if you spend a lot of time online like I do, stumbling stuff all day won’t take extra hours out of your day…it will become part of your routine.

Do you know of any other ways to drive high-quality traffic from StumbleUpon?