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Is StumbleUpon worth another look?

By Chris Soames 06 Jul, 2011
Essential
Link-building

What is Stumbleupon and what are its benefits?

StumbleUpon is another way of finding & consuming content online, just as Twitter, LinkedIn news, Facebook sharing / likes & Google do.

Since web users are likely to use a number of tools as way of finding and sharing information, StumbleUpon may be worth a look. [Editors note: by chance as we published this, a new report suggested that StumbleUpon sends more traffic to US websites than Facebook. I'd have to say treat this caution - this is only for sites with Statcounter installed, which won't be representative of larger sites].

If your audience is active on StumbleUpon, then it makes sense that your business is active on StumbleUpon. During this blog post I'll cover, what StumbleUpon is, who uses it, why & how your business can be active on the service.

Here's an intro to the scale of StumbleUpon which shows its scale

StumbleUpon Usage Text

Source: http://www.penn-olson.com/

What is StumbleUpon?

StumbleUpon is a discovery engine (a form of web search engine) that finds and recommends web content to its users. Its features allow users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests using peer-sourcing and social-networking principles. (source : Wikipedia)

The users of StumbleUpon

Taking a look at stats from the Google AdPlanner shows a fairly balanced range of demographics, suggesting it may be applicable for a range of companies.

StumbleUpon Demographics

Technology...

A further breakdown is available at http://www.mixthenet.com/average-stumbleupon-user/

Advantages of StumbleUpon

The part I like most about StumbleUpon is how it uses :

  • Your interests (initially what you tell it and then over time by what you read & share)
  • Your peers interests
  • Popularity of content within its network

to deliver content you will find interesting. For a long time now it has said it has "humanised" the internet. This is certainly its attraction, but at the same time it's open to abuse by businesses people & businesses.

The StumbleUpon toolbar makes it very easy to view, manage & share content. StumbleUpon also has the most users out of the popular social bookmarking services. Digg for example has 6 million users compared to StumbleUpon's 10 million.

Disadvantages to Stumbleupon

  • Very USA orientated (for now)
  • My experience with traffic from StumbleUpon is that it has very high bounce rates
  • Its another service to manage / find content like Google, Twitter, RSS managers, Facebook can all perform similar services, I (personally) don't see an edge
  • If you don't connect / follow the peers the recommendations tend to be weak (this means your friends have to use it as well to get the most from it)

Does StumbleUpon help SEO efforts?

It will play a small part yes. Only because:

  • It will improve your "social score" as you are active in a large & credible social network
  • It increases links to your website (this is the smaller of the two benefits & almost negligible)
  • These links are direct links which are not nofollowed like many links in social networks and blog comments which do not give direct benefits ranking benefits from linking

However, to make the most of StumpleUpon from a search perspective you need to make sure you are feeding it amazing content that people share & like otherwise it is likely to fail from both a traffic referring & SEO enhancing point of view. StumbleUpon is like similar forms of inbound links in the sense that it proves to Google your business is alive & active which is key but it also forces you to consider how you are going to create amazing content to share which is what Google (& other search engines) are actually after.

How would you use StumbleUpon as a business?

Firstly you need to understand if your audience is even active on StumbleUpon & if so is it important enough to warrant the investment (time) required. The three primary uses I see for StumbleUpon are (please add to the list by commenting below)

  1. Brand building, traffic growth & new inbound links
  2. To find related content to share with users (be of value to your customers) or create your own content from
  3. To find potential partners for advertising or co-creation of content (including guest appearances etc)

1. Brand building...

StumbleUpon creates another way to share content & therefore create new traffic opportunities. Though ensure you consider that the better & more relevant the content the:

  • More likely it will be viewed (brand exposure)
  • More likely it will generate traffic to your website
  • More likely it will be to be shared & liked (influencing the two items above & your social score in search engines such as Google)

To make best use of StumbleUpon you already need to be publishing content, once you publish content bookmark this on your StumbleUpon account & ensure an option from that page exists for people to add to their StumbleUpon easily.

2. Find content

If you have configured StumbleUpon properly & you are following brands, people & topics each time you login you should see a lot of new relevant pieces of content. This generates two opportunities, if you deem it useful, valuable or entertaining you should share it with your user base through any tools relevant (StumbleUpon, Twitter, LinkedIn, email). You have instantly been valuable to that user base & helps keep / boost your relationship with them. The second thing you could do is create a similar piece of content for your own web properties with your spin on it, or with additional information etc. As long as you don't copy it like for like its a good way to find inspiration for you own content.

3. To find partners for business

With a system giving you content based on your preferences and that of your peers it will become a great source for finding some of the best online partners for your business. The sites you are presented with are deemed the most relevant to you and have been "voted" by your peers as good sources. With the right thought & filtering a lot of the sources could be turned into new business opportunities for your business. This could be that you could feature as a guest writer on their website or vice versa. It may even open up opportunities for websites to become affiliates for your business etc.

Advertising in StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon has a unique advertising platform (see options here) allowing your advert to appear in peoples streams. The way this works is as people browse StumbleUpon, so by this I mean you click "stumble" in your browser and StumbleUpon will return a webpage based on all the areas I mentioned earlier (preferences, peer recommendations etc). You can pay for a URL of your choosing to appear depending on the category you have set etc. StumbleUpon say:

Users stumble the best of the web, finding sites that reflect their interests and friends by simply hitting a button in their browsers or on their mobile devices. With Paid Discovery, your URL becomes part of that stream. The user is eager to engage with new and exciting content, making your product's discovery a welcome experience in the eyes of a Stumbler.

Be aware! While this advertising is cheap & appears targetted StumbleUpon has a notoriously high bounce rate so proceed with caution should you decide it is something you want to test. Your content will need to be truly amazing for the people that will come across it!

Have you any experience or thoughts about StumbleUpon please share them in the comments below!

By Chris Soames

Chris Soames is a Smart Insights blogger and consultant, he has worked in digital marketing for over 6 years with the last few years managing international web strategies for a leading travel brand. Now the Commercial Director at First 10, an Integrated marketing agency, he helps clients get clarity on their marketing strategy and create campaigns engineered to engage with their consumers to help drive sell-through. Most of all, Chris enjoys working with talented people who want to create great (& commercial) things not just tick boxes.

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