How to Convert StumbleUpon Users to Regular Visitors


Stumble Upon users are notoriously impatient with users spending an average of 10-20 seconds on a site. Quite often, the decision to stay on your site is made before your page fully loads. Well, what can you do in 20 seconds? Here are a some tips to help you turn those casual stumblers to regular repeat visitors.

Design & Branding

If StumbleUpon and other social media websites are planned to be the main source of your traffic, then your website should be designed with this purpose in mind; directing your visitors to the information they want while being unique. Ok, this is easier said than done. We know that good web designers don’t come cheap, and good free templates appear frequently on everyone else’s site and blog.

If you are a on a tight budget, why not start small with colour schemes and a logo? You can select a free template and customise some of the colours. has a nifty tool to help you choose the colour scheme for your website branding. As for your logo, is a great place for quality free fonts.

As your traffic builds and money comes in, you can expand one step at a time. Don’t forget to make a favicon(your website icon that appears in the url bar). Once your visitors have bookmarked you for a return visit, the favicon will help them identify your website in a long list of bookmarks.


Advertising and affiliate schemes: Plastering your website with adverts is a sure-fire way to get an instant thumb’s down. Ads are designed to catch the eye and will distract your users. Don’t create obstacles for users who just want to read your content. A good idea is to have multiple layouts for your content which can be easily switched. For example, when you find out you have been picked up by StumbleUpon, you can change the page layout to accommodate SU users(Less ads, less selling, cleaner design, more headlines and images).

StumbleUpon users will stumble straight through a website if they believe it’s an attempt sell something. Keep the hard sell to a minimum on StumbleUpon landing pages.

Content Depth

Everything else aside, the most important thing is to produce great content. Create content that has depth which your visitors will come back to finish. A good tip is to create a series for content items

We can’t tell you how to create great content but the main question you should ask yourself is:

What value does your content provide to the community?

We have looked at types of content that become popular on StumbleUpon here that might give you a useful indication of the type of content that StumbleUpon users are generally interested in.

Remember – don’t spam your site or trade Stumbles with other people on forums. While it might bring you an initial burst of traffic, it is pretty pointless if those visitors never come back to your site because you didn’t take the time to create interesting content.

Visual Indicators

You should think about StumbleUpon as the casual reading of a magazine in a waiting room. The reader often starts flicking to the next page while they are scanning the current one. Images draw the eye more than text. When users arrive at your page, they will usually scan from the top left of the page down to the bottom right. It only takes a second for your visitors to categorise your website. The key here is to have a clear purpose for your website. For example if you have pictures of Wind turbines your visitors will correlate that with an environmental website. Choose your pictures wisely.

Images in your article introductions play an important role in drawing you visitors to continue clicking. If you’re looking for images for your website then you can use the following image sites:

  • Stock.xchnge
  • – 250,000 quality free stock photos by more than 25,000 photographers!

  • MorgueFile
  • A great collection of free stock photos.

  • StockVault
  • Over 8,000 quality images.

  • ImageAfter
  • A smaller collection of good free images and textures

The Fold

Although studies have shown that the fold of your website(the area visible on the screen before any scrolling occurs) has little bearing on how far down your visitors scroll, the StumbleUpon user must be thought of differently considering the average time they spend on your site.

You will need to put good interesting and relevant content above the fold. It is not necessarily the quantity but the quality that is important. Headlines and images are the most important things on your website. Put the best you’ve got above the fold, so when stumblers arrive at your site, they can see you site is packed with quality.

CrazyEgg is a great heat map tool to find out where your visitors are clicking and how to optimize content placement on your website. We would suggest signing up for a free account and setting up a test when your content is picked up by Stumbleupon.

Related and Popular Content

Get them on your site and keep ‘em there. Related content is a good way to keep your visitors on your site. Chances are, if they have made it to the end of your post, then they are interested in what they are reading. Give your visitors the option to read more of the same. The important thing here is to make sure you tag your posts properly and make sure your related content is accurate.

If there isn’t an option for a “Popular” or “Related” content plugin for your blogging platform or content management system then consider manually adding relevant links at the end of each article.

The Popular Content section is an important section to your website. Users are more likely to click these content items because it has been deemed worthy by many other users.


Your RSS feed is one of the most important tools in your artillery. Make your feed icons pretty and prominently visible above the fold and give your visitors the option to subscribe by email. You should also include the RSS links at the end of your posts.

Many people have developed their variations of the classic orange feed icon, but we would suggest that the original orange icon is the most effective on StumbleUpon landing pages. This is due to the fact that in the short time that your stumblers visit your page, images are more effective than text, and the orange RSS feed icons are universally understood for what they are.

If you have a few design bones in you, you should download the RSS feed developer pack at and have a go at customising it to suit the design of your website.

Speed of website

speed.gifAs mentioned previously, stumblers often decide whether they stay on your page or skip it before you page even loads. You need to allow for stumblers to stay on your site long enough to decide whether they want to come back! So how do you design a website that looks good while is loading I hear you ask? Well, you can’t, but you can make sure your site loads as quickly as possible. There are two ways to do this.

Get a good fast webhost. We use Liquid Web here. They provide incredible support as well as great value dedicated servers. We regularly get stories to the front page of Digg as well as the other news and bookmarking sites, and have yet to have any problems. We can’t recommend Liquid Web enough for a serious website.

Optimize your template. There are many reasons why your website can be slow. Webpage Analyzer is a great tool to check your site for errors and optimize your images and links. If you can fix all the items in red, you will be going as fast as your servers will allow.


A good way to keep your visitors is to make them feel welcome. There are plugins for various blogging platforms and content management systems which show a small welcome box to new users to your website(they use cookies). You can add brief couple of lines which welcome your new users and tell them what your site is about. You can offer RSS feeds and email contacts for your site. Keep this friendly and brief. There is a fine line between welcoming and pestering.

Can you think of anything else that works for you in converting your stumblers to regulars? Why not share it with us in the comments section?

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23 Readers have left their thoughts

  1. sil-chan

    The title of this post was a good way to keep me here^.^

  2. Interesting post. I agree with all of your points, but I would also add networking with SU users. Although that is not an on-site factor like the information you covered it’s really valuable for turning those SU “friends” into regular visitors.

  3. techrn

    Excellent list of resources and ideas. Thanks!

  4. Don’t forget Flickr for images! You can use the advanced search to find thousands of images that you can use for your website – all legally with the Creative Commons ( ) license. For an example – there’s my photos ( ), most of which are freely available for people to use for commercial purposes. And on Flickr a lot of photos are higher quality and varied than stock photo websites.

  5. Hi

    Sil-Chan: Thanks for sticking around.

    Steven Snell: Very true.

    Andrew: Flick is great. We get a lot of photos from there, though not all photos on there are CC.

    Techrn: Thanks for stopping by!


  6. always a great source of traffic from me. Although this article is old, but still very useful.

  7. Nice article you have here..

    I will start to use it a lot recently..

    Can you teach me how to make you ‘bookmark and share this rtory’ box.. I thank you very much..

  8. Great post…with images, always make sure they are royalty free, as for some pics on Stock.xchnge you might need to get in touch with the photographer to ask for permission…

  9. I’ve found that if you have a prominent RSS feed icon, you’ll pick up alot of subscribers from StumbleUpon, as well as other social media sites, and they will continue to come back, as long as the content is worthy.

    Content is king.

  10. Thanks for these ideas. I definitely agree with Jeff, a prominent RSS button on the top of your page really helps. The way you have it is perfect, it’s large and at the top. I’ve seen many sites where the RSS icon is in the footer, I bet those rarely get clicked on.

  11. Great advice. I have been using for about a year and have been quite satisfied with it. MorgueFile is new to me though and it looks like a good resource for images. Thanks. -Ben

  12. I’ve used dafont also. it’s pretty good but not my only choice for font searching. i agree with jeff about the rss icon being prominent, and i’ve seen a lot of people say that feedburner is a good service for rss.

  13. Grate insight, I have been submitting articles to stumbleupon, i am getting good response. The issues you have raised good points. Thanks

  14. I never seen this site with fonts before. I will certainly try it. Thanks for post.

  1. impatient - Jan 3rd, 2008
  2. stumblers - Jan 14th, 2008