There has been a lot of talk about the new StumbleUpon these days. We’ve been big StumbleUpon supporters since starting our blog and we’ve been exploring the new look and getting to know it better. This isn’t an article about how to use StumbleUpon, if you would like to learn more, you can read our post, How to Use StumbleUpon. This post is about exploring and explaining the New StumbleUpon.

Number 1 Social Media Referrer

StumbleUpon is still the number social media referrer to our website and what we love about it compared to other social media sites like Twitter or Facebook is that it generates views for months after a post has been submitted. Once one of our posts gets into the StumbleUpon system, it stays there and keeps sending consistent traffic our way.

Traffic Spikes

Traffic Spike from Last July

The first thing that we have noticed since StumbleUpon changed their algorythm is that those crazy spikes in traffic have stopped. This is a bit of a blow to the ego because in the past we have had spikes out of the blue where a post suddenly gets 10,000 views in a day.

However upon further inspection, we have seen that we get a steady number of referralls from StumbleUpon each day, but it is more consistent. Instead of one large spike of traffic and then nothing, we consistently see a couple of thousand visitors each day spread out over several different posts and the good news is that they are staying longer.

Traffic from the past 10 Days

People have complained that SumbleUpon traffic isn’t quality traffic because there is a high bounce rate. We have said again and again that if you are consistent with StumbleUpon, you will eventually see traffic start to even out and that has happened to us. We can’t know for sure, but we suspect that the new algorithm is sending our posts to a more targeted audience that is more likely to be interested in our content.

How StumbleUpon Works

The more you use SU, the more it understands your likes. It takes a while for the program to understand your tastes, but if you are consistent and a regular user, it will send you content that you are interested in.

Thumbs Down

When we first started using StumbleUpon 3-years ago, we weren’t afraid to give a post a thumbs down. This doesn’t mean that StumbleUpon is going to penalize said article, it means that it is not going to send you those types of posts anymore. It has worked for us. And when we get things in our stumble stream that really come out of left field, we let them know it. We give it a thumbs down and move on.

The 500 followers rule

The people that follow you are now called connections. You can see them all in one spot on your profile and the feature that I love is how you can see who was recently active. We find it important to connect and stumble with people who are active on StumbleUpon. I may even go through their profiles to see what they’ve been looking at recently.

StumbleUpon Connections

The rule of following 500 people is still there. We asked the people of StumbleUpon about this and they said that it is their way of keeping spam down. Really, how can one person follow more than 500 people and give them the time they deserve. We have a difficult time with this rule as we are people that like to reciprocate goodwill. When someone follows us, we like to follow them back. We do it with twitter and are following a whopping 25,000 people which is ridiculous. We can’t possibly know what all 25,000 people are doing. Following that many people is useless to us except for the fact that we are the type of people that like to reciprocate and “be nice”

With StumbleUpon, we don’t have a choice and it makes our lives a lot easier. If we don’t have the same taste as one of the people we follow, we unfollow them to make room for a stumbler that we connect with. Since the new StumbleUpon started, we’ve been going through accounts that aren’t active and unfollowing them so that we can follow back the new and active people. Is that the right thing to do? For us it is. We want to interact with the people that follow our stumbles and be able to see their stumbles too.

Differences from Old to New StumbleUpon:


stumbleupon home page

The New StumbleUpon Home Page

The New StumbleUpon has an updated look that is very much in line with today’s internet users. It’s visual and full of pictures. When I open my account, the home page displays my interests a colourful array of photographs, enticing me to go ahead and click on one of them. Be it travel, movies, photography or sports, boxes of photographs are waiting to remind me of the interests that I selected. It is good to see the categories that I selected of interest, I’ve never looked at this since I originally signed up and have since updated what I am interested in reading about. With the New StumbleUpon, my interests are displayed each time I log into my account.

Explore an Interest

On the home page you can now explore an interest. When I type a search into the window, StumbleUpon gives me a choice of categories to select and start stumbling through. When I searched for the Academy Awards, I was also lured to check out more in the British Academy Awards as well. The search “Academy Award” gives me all kinds of different options to choose from.


When you follow someone, you automatically accept their shares. In the old StumbleUpon, when you followed someone you had the choice to accept shares or not. Now when you follow someone, you automatically accept their shares. This makes sense to me, why follow someone if you don’t want to accept shares from them. For those of you who don’t know, accepting shares means that people who you follow can send you links to articles for you to check out and hopefully give a thumbs up.




When you used to look at your profile, you would have the opportunity to see your likes and your discoveries. Now when you click on the drop down menu at the top of your profile, you will see a drop down menu giving you the choice of all, photos, videos, interests and additions. Additions are what used to be called your discoveries. With a search box allowing you to search your likes and breaking it down into categories, you’ll be able to revisit those posts that you gave a thumbs up to all those months ago much easier.

Search Box

There is also a search box in the top right hand corner that allows you to search your likes by a specific key word or phrase. So StumbleUpon has been working to make searching easier.


new stumbleupon channels

Channels is a new feature that allows you to see content from a particular brand, person or website that you already know. You can click on that particular channel and follow their stuff. As usual, StumbleUpon only sends you channels that it thinks you will like and if you want to follow someone or thing in particular you can simply click on browse all channels and start exploring.

StumbleUpon is very different from other social media sites and that is a good thing. It will never be about searching for something specific the fun of it is stumbling through posts and never knowing what you are going to get. I look at StumbleUpon as being inspired and surprised each time I log on. As I read somewhere and unfortunately I can’t remember where so huge apologies “It gives you a roulette wheel of content sent to you in an organized manner” What does that mean? Well, StumbleUpon works at getting to know you. Once it figures out your likes and dislikes, it will still keep sending you random content, but all that content will be targeted to your likes.

I am still trying to wrap my head around what all the uproar and fuss is about on other blogs. It’s still the same StumbleUpon, it’s just better looking.

People have been arguing that they use StumbleUpon only to generate traffic and since traffic has fallen they aren’t going to use it anymore. Some people have said that they are leaving SU and working on other social media sites. Like any application when a new algorythm is introduced, it takes time to settle in. Give it time and you will see results not only come back, but come back consistently.

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  1. Adrian B.

    I must say I haven’t been using SU that much lately – and to be totally honest, I found the new design a bit confusing and not as easy to use as the old one – but if the new algorithm is set to send consistent and steady amounts of visitors to regular users instead of sudden spikes of traffic once in a while then, from a webmaster’s point of view, it’s definitely worth spending more time understanding the new SU and stumbling through.

    1. debndave Post author

      Hi Adrian, Hopefully this post helped to clear up some of the confusion. Change can always be a bit of a pain. We had to go through it thoroughly ourselves, but eventually we got the hang of it.

  2. Natalie

    I like the new SU and have noticed the same as you, that spikes no longer happen but what I am getting is consistent traffic. Also worth noting is that my bounce rate is higher with traffic from Google than it is with traffic from SU. Is SU more tuned into their users than the number one search engine?

    1. debndave Post author

      Hey Natalie, that is an interesting thing to hear indeed. It goes to show that you are definitely getting some quality traffic from StumbleUpon. It could be that they are more in tune. It makes sense since you really are in charge of what you want to see when stumbling. Hmmm, something to think about.

  3. Laura

    You are making a great point there with unfollowing the inactive users. There’s no point in following people who don’t use Stumbleupon anymore. I can’t claim I cracked SU yet. Actually, I had better days with SU than I’m having now… But I recognize the great traffic driver that it can be and hope for the best, reading articles like yours :)

    1. debndave Post author

      Hi Laura, if you go to your profile, click on connections and then your following, you will see the most recent stumblers listed first. When you click on their profile, you will see when they last stumbled. The people on the last pages should be those who haven’t stumbled for the longest. When we went to the last page of who we were following, we saw that some of them hadn’t been on StumbleUpon for over a year. Hope this helps.

  4. Gillian @OneGiantStep

    Thanks guys. I was just chatting with some folks about this yesterday. It’s time to get back on the SU horse and use it for what it’s meant for – finding great new content! See you there!

    1. debndave Post author

      Excellent point Gillian. That’s what it’s meant for and it’s still a great way to find new and exciting articles, photos and videos.

  5. Leigh

    This article has been helpful. I’ve been slow to embrace their changes but it’s time I did. SU has been a big supplier of hits in the past.

    1. debndave Post author

      Hey Lane, Spike and Go is good too! You’ll eventually notice that your numbers will stay up higher and even out at a nice amount of views each day. As more people discover you, more people stick around to see more.

  6. Anne McKinnell

    Thanks for the article! This is very helpful for me as I just started using StumbleUpon about a week ago. I love how I am finding so many new and interesting things. I’m not sure why people aren’t following me back, but I’ll give it some time. Maybe I have to be around for awhile! I am not using it to stumble my own posts as I’m not sure if that is frowned upon. For now I’m just finding great stuff, giving it the thumbs up, and sharing it on other social networks.

    1. debndave Post author

      Hi Anne. A lot of times we don’t see who is following us, It doesn’t hurt to send people a message on StumbleUpon and let them know you are following them. If you let them know you love their stuff, maybe they’ll take notice of your account. Giving reviews is a great way to interact as well.

  7. Steve Juba

    Great article guys! Thanks for all the helpful info as I stay dedicated to stumbleupon and try to understand the reasons behind all these changes..

  8. Flashpacking

    Thanks for the stumble upon insights. We’ve just started our own long term travel journey with a travel blog. Stumble has provided us with some traffic and new followers, but I love it as I get to see travelogues and photography I wouldn’t ordinarily discover. We follow you guys on twitter etc and I’ll now be adding you on stumble.

    1. debndave Post author

      Thanks Flashpacking, We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for your Stumbles. You are so right, we find some amazing photography stumbling through StumbleUpon.

  9. Pete Heck

    I think SU is a wonderful tool and I’ve always been a big fan. Despite from the advantages it has to bring us traffic, I mindlessly stumble at least 30-40 new sites a day and find some real interesting stuff. Great work with the summary of all the new changes. I think the new SU interface is much better and once they work the bugs out, it’s just going to be all the more better for its dedicated users. Cheers!

  10. Trans-Americas Journey

    I was wondering what happened to those ego boosting spikes. I like the tip about sorting connections by recent activity. I just dumped a bunch of people who haven’t used SU in a year.

    1. debndave Post author

      We’ll be sure to share with you. We don’t share too often as we never seem to have the time, but we get one out every couple of weeks. I’ll make sure to look for you! I know that we receive your shares so we are definitely following one another. We do always go through our shares though even if it takes us a couple of weeks.

  11. Simon

    Excellent article, I really enjoyed the read.

    Of course, I like it when I see a spike in traffic, but the reason why I stumble a lot is because I get to discover awesome new content which would have most probably remained unknown to me without SU.

    As for the shares, I admit that I recently stopped them all. There were too many people sharing a huge amount of content. and what was worse sometimes 3 or even 4 times the same page and it had become excessively time consuming. I plan however to resume shares (I love sharing, that’s what social media are for… And that’s part of what I am), but with a limited of fellow stumblers keeping what I consider a ‘good balance’.

    1. Trans-Americas Journey

      I too was overwhelmed by shares. I spent some time reviewing those that reciprocated and shared my posts and I deleted those who were sending shares but not paying attention to my shares. Now I have a manageable group of about 200 bloggers whose content I like, I like and usually tweet their shares and they like most of mine. It did take a bit of time, but at least my share bar is manageable and functional.

      1. debndave Post author

        200 sounds like a nice and reasonable number. It takes a bit of time to sort out who you want to share with, but once you have it down, I find the sharing tool one of the most useful elements of StumbleUpon

    2. debndave Post author

      Excellent point Simon. We should have made the point of stating that it is a great way to discover different content. We find that on Twitter and facebook we tend to get stuck interacting with the same people a lot. With StumbleUpon, we find ourselves completely stepping out of our usual social media circles. I agree with you about blocking the people that share too much. Sometimes our inbox was cluttered with way too many links from the same person. There comes a time when you have to put a stop to it or you end up not getting through your shares and end up not being able to discover new content.

  12. Laurence

    Great article guys – I’ve noticed that SU is delivering more consistent quality traffic these days, which is better than those giant spikes that seemed to do nothing other than set my pulse racing ;)

  13. Jeremy Branham

    I’ve never been a huge stumble upon fan but I do see the increase in quality traffic now making it much more appealing than it was before. I used to just get hits that would spike way up. Yet the bounce rate was atrocious and the amount of time on the page was horrible. I like these changes and will probably focus a little more on using SU in the future.

    1. debndave Post author

      Hi Jeremy, it’s true, at first you definitely get spikes in Stumbleupon but we found that it eventually levels out. Hopefully you have some good luck with it in the future.

  14. Andrew

    There is a balance it seems of getting too many shares that you can’t keep up with the discovers and random stumbling. I like it for finding new random things. That is, using it as an interested user of the service, not as a self serving stumbler of my own stuff to drive traffic. I love when my stuff gets stumbled, but I’m not going out of my way to drive that.

    Thanks for a good overview of the changes.

    1. debndave Post author

      Great point Andrew. The whole idea of StumbleUpon is to find new content. You have to keep a balance of stumbling between shares and random stumbles.

  15. Matt Gibson

    Very nice. I am working hard to incorporate SU with my daily social media chores. this was super helpful. Thanks for the excellent info guys! Nice to see you guys out there giving us Canucks a good name ;)

    1. debndave Post author

      Thanks Matt. I take it you are Canadian as well eh! Cheers. Stumbleupon is an excellent form of social media and I hope that you are enjoying finding the time to give it a try.

  16. Cole @ Four Jandals

    We still get the spikes and love the new SU. Since the new design came out we have not changed how we use it and have just seen consistent traffic as always. No gripes or complaints from us :) But thanks for sharing D’s.

  17. Mica

    After the change to SU I admit I totally gave up on it since everyone seemed to be in an uproar over the new format. I still get traffic from it though, and now that I’ve read this I’m convinced it’s worth another try. I’m getting back on the SU horse.
    Thanks again guys for a very informative article!

  18. JoAnna

    The thing I find most awkward is that you have to click on every single person you want to share a post with. Is that a true statement, or is there a “select all” and I’m just not seeing it?

    1. debndave Post author

      You are right JoAnna, that is how you have to share. We asked them about this feature and it is to prevent spamming. Just like the cap at following 500 people is a rule to prevent spamming. StumbleUpon wants you to share only content you feel is relevant and with the people that are interested in your niche. We find it frustrating too, but then again, it keeps us from sending off too many shares to others and from having our inbox filled with constant shares from the same people.

  19. Katrina

    I enjoyed following people without accepting their shares. I think taking away that option was a huge mistake on SU’s part. Users want control of their experience on a site, not a design that forces a certain type of interaction. I utterly dislike seeing big orange numbers on a bar. I have so many other things to do online that I will stumble and like things as I have time, not when some obnoxious toolbar tells me to do so. The fact that there is no mass “mark as read” function makes it all the more maddening.

    Before the switch, I manually disabled accepting shares from everyone I follow because I knew they were mucking with this. I hoped they’d straighten it out, but it appears they are taking a page from the Zuckerberg playbook. Changes like this have alienated and frustrated a number of my friends who no longer use the site because of it.

    StumbleUpon solicited peoples’ opinions about the changes on Facebook and Get Satisfaction, but appeared to have ignored anything that wasn’t “hey, it’s great!” Not impressed.

  20. Africanlegend

    To tell you the truth I loved the traffic spike. You got quick exposure and if your content and the look of your site was good you had a chance to retain a higher % of that spike. Even with the traffic spikes each article that was stumbled still had small consistent stream. So looking at my analytics I see that all that has changed is that now there are no traffic spikes.

    SU traffic was never “low quality” they are just a different breed often interested in specific kinds of thing. I started off with very high bounce rates from SU but redesigned my website and only submitted materials SU users tend to like (pictures, videos, short articles). After that I got a pretty low bounce rate, even lower than some organic traffic.

    1. debndave Post author

      Great advice African Legend and well put. You are right, we found that eventually the spikes kept people around. At first it was a spike and then it tapered off, but over time people started to stick around more and more and our website maintained that higher traffic. Great point!

    1. debndave Post author

      All you have to do is go to home, click on profile and you can follow back your followers from there, you can also click on “follow” to find people, cheers and best of luck.

  21. Alec Bright

    The old stumbleupon was brilliant. It was a real social whirl, everybody almost pimped their profiles of great websites that appealled to them, which attracted followers of people with similar interests and conversations with people all over the world would start up. I know you can do it with other things now, but nothing hit on the same formula, since changing from the blue & green logo to the orange, (I can't think of a date) it has just become a trigger to get to the next page. Such a shame. I always wondered why this has happened as it is such a negative effect.

    1. debndave Post author

      I think it has even changed again since our writing of this post. I’m not a fan of the orange icon on Chrome myself. Stumbleupon seems to be failing a bit in my opinion recently too. I hope they get back on track. I’m finding it difficult to go through my shares and browse my interest. there’s a lot of sponsored content now too.

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