How do you use Stumbleupon? The discovery engine is reportedly responsible for delivering more than half of all social media referral traffic in the U.S. -- even more than Facebook and Twitter. What does this mean and why should you care?

Discover, You Shall Find?

The mere mention of a discovery engine should explain the rise in traffic. After all, how many pages do you stumble through until you find one that catches your eye? Chances are, quite a few. All those stumbles are traffic. Of course, all that traffic also leads to an 80% bounce rate. Of course, StumbleUpon usually leads us to something we wouldn’t have found otherwise.


Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Social Media Market Share

Is High Traffic Good for Business?

If a website receives a lot of traffic through StumbleUpon, what is the perceived value that traffic brings? If it’s truly organic and the user never intended to seek out the website or its product, it could mean a new customer. Though stumbles are based on the user’s interests, the process is still mostly random. Should you really build a marketing strategy based on random?

However, the reason for high bounce rates within StumbleUpon can be explained once you spend some time stumbling around. Many of the sites are out of date, poorly designed or lacking engaging content. Chances are your bounce rates are high no matter from where users gain access to it. While it’s easy to isolate the problem, fixing it will take longer.

There are a lot of websites, many created before web standards, design and marketing strategies were developed or widely available. Advocating for good content, design and usability is crucial to helping websites thrive.

How to Leverage a Stumble?

Is there really a way to capitalize on StumbleUpon, outside of improving usability and web design?

If your content is good, StumbleUpon can regularly deliver you traffic, especially for content that is older. Additionally, links and posts on Facebook and Twitter must entice a user with words, and sometimes pictures, alone. Whereas with StumbleUpon, the user looks at the website without help from a tidy or clever summary statement or witty headline.

StumbleUpon doesn’t represent the Internet nor could it, if it tests each link and determines its popularity based on its performance. This strategy is similar to what Google Plus wants to be. Instead of blindly stumbling based on performance or interest, Google Plus hopes that you’ll discover content based on relationships or circles. The more content shared in your circle or the more people in your circle, the better odds your content has for discovery, even though you’re mining information based on links and comments, rather than the actual website.

If StumbleUpon is a sleeper holy grail of traffic, with no definitive way to claim it, then we must let it be. For smaller sites, it may be the push it needs to claim some territory already claimed by larger sites. For larger markets, StumbleUpon can continue to be an added bonus. Agree, disagree -- please let us know, how do you leverage the power of StumbleUpon?