StumbleUpon Essential Basics, A Beginners Guide

May 8, 2009   //   by Ann Smarty   //   blogging, SEO, SEO Blog  //  43 Comments

What is a discovery?

You discover a page when you are the first to submit it to StumbleUpon. You can see the member who discovered the page as well as the date when it was discovered to the right of the submission page (http://www.stumbleupon.com/url/url-of-the-submitted-page):

StumbleUpon: Who Discovered

What is a category?

A page is discovered in one of the multiple categories. The category the page is submitted to determines who will see it. StumbleUpon is based on the relevance mechanism: each member is categorized based on his interests – these interests are determined based on the preferences specified by him and also based on the member’s browsing behavior (topics of the articles the member usually stumbles and reviews).

What is a thumb up?

A thumb up aims to mean two important things:

  • A thumb-up is a vote: it promotes a post and allows more members to see the post;
  • A thumb-up shows SU what you like and encourages the machine to show you more stories of the kind.

What is a thumb-down?

Like a thumb-up, a thumb-down is called to accomplish two important roles:

  • It votes against the story (the member doesn’t want more users to see it);
  • It tells the algorithm that you don’t want to see similar stories any more.

What is a review?

You can post your comment on the page and this comment will appear on the submission page.

What is a tag?

You can tag each page based on its topics – like the category it was submitted to, tags determine who sees the page.

Building Relationships

Like with all other social communities, connections are everything at StumbleUpon – they determine:

  • Your member’s score: the more friends you have, the higher your authority as a member is.
  • Your influence: The more friends you have, the more people you can share the story is.

StumbleUpon: build connections

So building connection on StumbleUpon is an essential step to becoming a power member. Most effective methods to do that are:

  • Initiate friendship: send friend requests. A friend request may be also followed by a personal message detailing why it would be a good idea to be friends (similar interests, similar stories, location, etc);
  • Give testimonials: generously review other members’ profiles and give real, detailed feedback: not just "good stumbles" but why they are good and how they are different from other members’ stumbles.

Sharing stories with friends:

You can share your finds on StumbleUpon using two tools:

  • Toolbar share: allows to send a page one friend at a time (with a short message);
  • Web share (accessed from "Your Favorites" page when you hover over the page thumbnail): allows to share the story with all/many friends in a bulk (add a short message along with it).

StumbleUpon: Share

Your friends will be able to see your share twice:

  • Toolbar notification: your share will be displayed on your friend’s toolbar
  • Email notification: unless your friend unsubscibes from email notification, your share will come to his email address.

StumbleUpon Mathematics

What determines the popularity of each page on StumbleUpon? How to predict the page popularity and traffic? There is no official answers to these questions but there are some educated theories and assumptions that will help you understand StumbleUpon algorithm.

Each time a story has been discovered it ranks on a 0-5 stars scale which makes up the submission score. The submission score is determined by a number of factors, most important of them are supposed to be:

  • The reviewers’ and stumblers’ score: each member of StumbleUpon is ranked based on his authority: the number of thumbs-up he gave and reviews he made, the number of testimonials he received, the number of subscribers and friends, his age as SU member, the diversity and consistency of topics he stumbles (diversity in domains and consistency of topics: how many stories from various domains but similar topics he has stumbled so far).
  • The rate at which the story is thumbed up: if you keep the momentum, the story might go hot.
  • The source of the thumb: I am pretty sure that if the story is only thumbed/up reviewed from the page itself, it might look suspicious. Random thumbers clicking the StumbleUpon button should thumb it up and review as well.
  • The submission category: some categories are so unpopular, that the page won’t get much traffic no matter how many reviews and thumbs it may receive – there are simply not enough people interested in that topic to see the submission.
  • The submission tags: the more related tags are added to the submission, the broader public will see the page. Besides, like with the category, this also depends on the tags popularity itself.
  • The diversity of the stumblers: it looks unnatural if same people stumble same domain again and again.

StumbleUpon represents the page popularity by stars used within Google search engine results page and also on the submission page:

StumbleUpon stars

StumbleUpon stars

The exact algorithm behind the stars is unclear. It appears to depend on the category and thumb-up rate and members’ diversity.

Find more on StumbleUpon maths here.

Promoting a story on StumbleUpon

How StumbleUpon is different from other social voting sites? The best thing about SU is that it is able to send huge amounts of traffic even to pages that never went hot. Therefore knowing how to promote your site properly there is both essential and useful.

Based on the essential basics outlined above as well on general observations and experiences, here are some tactics you should consider when promoting a story or a site on StumbleUpon:

  • Diversifying the discoveries: it is essential to make sure different members discover all posts from your domain;
  • Diversifying the reviews: like with discoveries, each post should be reviewed by different members;
  • Relevant category: make sure the page is submitted to the most relevant category – this will ensure that people are most likely to like the story and want to share it.
  • A lot of relevant tags: apart from preserving the submission relevancy, tags ensure that your post is found using the search feature.

By Ann Smarty, an Internet marketer and social media expert maintaining an SEO consulting blog.

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Comment Policy

  • Sports Fan 4 says:

    Cool, just getting into stumbleupon and this guide helps a lot. Thanks!

    <abbr>Sports Fan 4’s last blog post..Red Sox Set Run Scoring Record</abbr>

  • Sports Fan 4 says:

    Cool, just getting into stumbleupon and this guide helps a lot. Thanks!

    <abbr>Sports Fan 4’s last blog post..Red Sox Set Run Scoring Record</abbr>

  • Thanks for this blog. I am trying to understand it. I love Delicious but I was told to get a Stumble Upon account because it is better to drive traffic to a site.

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      StumbleUpon can send a lots of traffic but this can be tricky because you do not want to get on SU and start blasting your blog to all your friends. The best approach is to become an active contributing member of StumbleUpon and the community will stumble the posts that are appealing to them. It also help to be active in the blogosphere and social media in general.

  • Thanks for this blog. I am trying to understand it. I love Delicious but I was told to get a Stumble Upon account because it is better to drive traffic to a site.

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      StumbleUpon can send a lots of traffic but this can be tricky because you do not want to get on SU and start blasting your blog to all your friends. The best approach is to become an active contributing member of StumbleUpon and the community will stumble the posts that are appealing to them. It also help to be active in the blogosphere and social media in general.

  • Ranking Challenge says:

    I was not aware about these aspects of Stumble Upon. Thanks for nice update

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      Ranking Challenge,

      Most of these StumbleUpon features are the same. The only one that is new really is the share to all feature. SU just added that like a couple of months ago.

  • Ranking Challenge says:

    I was not aware about these aspects of Stumble Upon. Thanks for nice update

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      Ranking Challenge,

      Most of these StumbleUpon features are the same. The only one that is new really is the share to all feature. SU just added that like a couple of months ago.

  • Tom Duong says:

    Thanks for the excellent tips! Very easy to understand explanation for people who are new to StumbleUpon.

    -Tom

    <abbr>Tom Duong’s last blog post..4 Tried and Tested Ways to Increase Opt-In Conversion Rates</abbr>

  • Tom Duong says:

    Thanks for the excellent tips! Very easy to understand explanation for people who are new to StumbleUpon.

    -Tom

    <abbr>Tom Duong’s last blog post..4 Tried and Tested Ways to Increase Opt-In Conversion Rates</abbr>

  • Neostead says:

    This is great info – I find StumbleUpon sort of exhausting and overwhelming. I mean, you could spend all your time on StumbleUpon and nothing else. But because the traffic you generate is so fleeting, I've not concentrated on it that much. I've actually found Twitter – which is a much simpler system – to have much more "sticky" visitors than the traffic that comes from SU.

  • Neostead says:

    This is great info – I find StumbleUpon sort of exhausting and overwhelming. I mean, you could spend all your time on StumbleUpon and nothing else. But because the traffic you generate is so fleeting, I’ve not concentrated on it that much. I’ve actually found Twitter – which is a much simpler system – to have much more “sticky” visitors than the traffic that comes from SU.

  • Kikolani
    Twitter:
    says:

    Definitely a great basic guide. One thing I will note is that reviews have more weight in the Stumble system. For example, if you have Feedburner and a Stumble It Feedflare enabled, subscribers will see (at least in Google Reader) only the number of Stumble reviews the article has, not the number of Thumbs Ups. This goes for a few networks that check the social popularity of articles as well. So in your community, the more stumble reviews you give, the more you are likely to receive.

    ~ Kristi

    Kikolani’s last blog post..SEO and Social Media

  • Kikolani
    Twitter:
    says:

    Definitely a great basic guide. One thing I will note is that reviews have more weight in the Stumble system. For example, if you have Feedburner and a Stumble It Feedflare enabled, subscribers will see (at least in Google Reader) only the number of Stumble reviews the article has, not the number of Thumbs Ups. This goes for a few networks that check the social popularity of articles as well. So in your community, the more stumble reviews you give, the more you are likely to receive.

    ~ Kristi

    <abbr>Kikolani’s last blog post..SEO and Social Media</abbr>

  • Nathaniel says:

    Comprehensive yet succinct. This is something I have been looking for a while now. I will definitely be referring my associates here as they are just getting started with StumbleUpon and this guide pretty much lays out everything you need to know to get started in the best format I have seen to date. Awesome!

    -Nathaniel
    .-= Nathaniel´s last blog ..Choosing A Domain Name =-.

  • Nathaniel says:

    Comprehensive yet succinct. This is something I have been looking for a while now. I will definitely be referring my associates here as they are just getting started with StumbleUpon and this guide pretty much lays out everything you need to know to get started in the best format I have seen to date. Awesome!

    -Nathaniel
    .-= Nathaniel´s last blog ..Choosing A Domain Name =-.

  • Chris Burns says:

    This is an excellent article. I especially appreciate the section that attempts to explain the Stumbleupon mathematics. I have also written something of a beginners guide to Stubmleupon entitled Maximize Your Site Traffic With Stumbleupon /> that your readers may find useful as well. Thanks for the great article!

  • Chris Burns says:

    This is an excellent article. I especially appreciate the section that attempts to explain the Stumbleupon mathematics. I have also written something of a beginners guide to Stubmleupon entitled Maximize Your Site Traffic With Stumbleupon /> that your readers may find useful as well. Thanks for the great article!

  • Gerald very useful post. The most common mistake any blogger does here is selecting the inappropriate category and tags… Though you pointed that prominently. :)
    .-= Harsh Agrawal [SML]´s last blog ..Find Images for your blog website using Google =-.

  • Gerald very useful post. The most common mistake any blogger does here is selecting the inappropriate category and tags… Though you pointed that prominently. :)
    .-= Harsh Agrawal [SML]´s last blog ..Find Images for your blog website using Google =-.

  • Ryan Nelson says:

    Really great and at the right time. I am just now beginning the process of using stumbleupon and social media this article is going to be a great help/
    .-= Ryan Nelson´s last blog ..SEO Consulting Firm =-.

  • Ryan Nelson says:

    Really great and at the right time. I am just now beginning the process of using stumbleupon and social media this article is going to be a great help/
    .-= Ryan Nelson´s last blog ..SEO Consulting Firm =-.

  • Thanks for the primer! I've been meaning to delve into the world of stumble upon but haven't had the time. This really helps!

  • Thanks for the primer! I’ve been meaning to delve into the world of stumble upon but haven’t had the time. This really helps!

  • Baba says:

    This was extremely helpful guide for those who are planning to join StumbleUpon and be power user there. Indeed it guided me :)
    .-= Baba´s last blog ..WorldLink Nepal is Giving upto 1 MBps Internet Connection =-.

  • Baba says:

    This was extremely helpful guide for those who are planning to join StumbleUpon and be power user there. Indeed it guided me :)
    .-= Baba´s last blog ..WorldLink Nepal is Giving upto 1 MBps Internet Connection =-.

  • engineer says:

    very useful post, thanx a lot for sharing . . .

  • engineer says:

    very useful post, thanx a lot for sharing . . .

  • Short Stories says:

    This may be just me, but I've found that StumbleUpon traffic is pretty poor since people aren't too interested in your niche. Digg is good for indexing, Reddit is nice for traffic for your site, and Delicious is good too. But I usually ignore StumbleUpon >_>
    .-= Short Stories´s last blog ..Humans Can Lick Too, My Beautiful =-.

  • Short Stories says:

    This may be just me, but I’ve found that StumbleUpon traffic is pretty poor since people aren’t too interested in your niche. Digg is good for indexing, Reddit is nice for traffic for your site, and Delicious is good too. But I usually ignore StumbleUpon >_>
    .-= Short Stories´s last blog ..Humans Can Lick Too, My Beautiful =-.

  • erdem says:

    Thanks for the excellent tips!

  • erdem says:

    Thanks for the excellent tips!

  • naushi says:

    v nice n informative,thanx 4 sharing such a beautiful information.

  • naushi says:

    v nice n informative,thanx 4 sharing such a beautiful information.

  • Ripdabytes says:

    hmm, interesting i never thought about using stumble as anything other then entertainment …

  • santosh says:

    Thanks for this tips…hope to get more in future..

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