Is Stumble Upon the next Google?

Bold Statement of the Day: Stumble Upon‘s traffic will be displacing the power of Boing Boing in a year. Possibly even less.

The amount of posts I have seen in the past week talking about the power of Stumble Upon is shocking. Last year, I talked about how Stumble Upon was sending traffic to my site like crazy. Now, everyone is realizing how the power of a crowd of bored internet users can send your site unbelievable amounts of traffic.

Why does this matter? Because the power of moderation is slipping. Like Google, a mathematical algorithm with no one at the helm, displaced Yahoo’s human edited directory, StumbleUpon’s algorithms are now taking control, and are able to more regularly send you, the user, to a site you enjoy– it no longer depends upon the high-ups in blogging, bless their heart.

If I were you, I would start considering how you can participate in a community that is realizing this. It means you no longer depend upon your friends to send you a link of the day by email, or upon those with an ear to the ground like Scoble or whomever– and you know, I really do like those dudes. But no one can compete with the power of a million robots, cooperating with a million web users.

If I were you, I would be looking out for it, and planning. It’ll put you in a great position when the time comes– whether you’re a blogger, podcaster, or just a casual user. But it is coming.

Brief update: The irony of this all is that Stumble Upon has made this my most popular post, ever, in less than 24 hours. Stumblers, if you liked this, please consider subscribing to my blog.





45 responses to “Is Stumble Upon the next Google?”

  1. Christopher Penn, Financial Aid Podcast Avatar

    StumbleUpon’s formula is also trickier to game than Google’s, as it’s not only a function of pages you submit, but also the number of friends that you have on the service, and how influential they are. Do the research on SU and build carefully, and you’ll see HUGE traffic gains on your web properties. Plus, SU is very much long tail. While BoingBoing and Digg can give you traffic, it’s transient. SU keeps on delivering weeks after you submit.

  2. hugh Avatar

    stumbleupon is librivox’s #2 referrer after google. the long tail issue is an important one.

    question: does stumbleupon send you to sites with preference for places that people in your network like?

  3. Patrick Avatar

    Interesting. I have no referrers from SU at all and I haven’t heard about it in any of my feeds for a while. A few months back yes, now nothing.

  4. Christopher Penn, Financial Aid Podcast Avatar

    Hugh: Yes, as far as I know. It sends you to places that are rated well. But don’t quote me on it.

  5. Julien Avatar

    Hugh: Yeah, it does do that… that’s kind of the intention. Like Google, it gets better and better at figuring out what it is you’re looking for and like, and what surprises you.

  6. invent Avatar

    Stumbleupon is already big, and its getting even bigger. It still shocks me that people don’t even know about stumbleupon. I love stumble, its a happening place and don’t forget we have forums too 🙂

    Im addicted for life 🙂 Discover new sites all the times as well as other ones i would of never even thought to look for.

    I just hope that if anyone ever buys stumble its google 🙂

  7. George Avatar

    I really enjoy coming across paranoids on the internet.
    Like me I presume that everyone has click off buttons and also can wipe Stumble Upon or Google out of your PCs if you so wish, well what is the problem?
    As for friends sending you stuff you do not want. There are phrases in any language which say “Stick where the sun don’t shine” or perhaps something more polite.
    Then be more careful how you choose your friends!

  8. Razan Avatar

    I actually got to this website using SU! And it is great!

  9. Martin P Avatar
    Martin P

    Just stumbled on this… It does send you places that are rated well, but there must also be a pint where it sends you to places recently added – otherwise you would not end up there is wont be rated much yet! – probably how I ended up here…..

    I have started using stumble upon rather than google, as you can stumble for keywords as well. Very powerful, takes you to good sites containing your keywords.

    It also shows ratings to sites when you use google (up to five stars beisde the site in google) – unfortunately you google wont let you sort them by stumble ratings – hopefully that may be added, I am sure it would benefit google to let you do that especially when people start stumbling instead of googling like I have.

  10. hugh Avatar

    “Like Google, it gets better and better at figuring out what it is you’re looking for and like, and what surprises you.”

    So it’s like watching me? Yeah, that’s why I unplugged stumbleupon (that and I figured the web is addictive enough without having a crackdealer like that beckoning in my toolbar).

  11. Yianni Avatar

    I got here using SU… isn’t it awesome!? It’s has definitely changed the way I spend my time online and my useful firefox bookmarks have grown exponentially since I installed it.

  12. Orfie Avatar

    I’ve been using StumbleUpon for over four years. It is, simply put, an amazing tool for finding the choicest sites on the internet. Just pick your interests, add some friends, and voila!

  13. Julien Avatar

    hugh: Dude, it’s an algorithm. and in space, no one can hear you scream… oh wait, that’s something else. 🙂

  14. Blissfulpain Avatar

    I use Google for searching for things when I already know what I want. I use StumbleUpon when searching for things I don’t know I want yet 😀

    Stuff like current events, articles, pictures, programs I think might exist (use a keyword) is all done through SU.

    But stuff like research, searching for things i’ve looked at before, finding things that may have changed names, or even finding an article on a piece of news I want to know more about… that’s really Google’s territory.

    I don’t know that Google and SU are direct competition… I think they could however complement each other’s strength if Google were to add SU rating to PageRank in some way… but that’s just my humble opinion.

  15. […] Julien at wrote a post discussing how Stumble Upon is driving more traffic to sites than Google, and therefore may be replacing it’s power. While StumbleUpon can drive a lot of traffic to particularly interesting pages or posts, such as the post I just referenced (which I Stumbled Upon). However, it will never replace Google because they are not the same thing. I was bored, and clicked the button. I didn’t WANT to find a post about Stumble Upon and Google. It may have been interesting, and I voted it thumbs up, but I couldn’t easily use Stumble to find the same page if I hadn’t already Stumbled it. […]

  16. lerryn Avatar

    Stumbleupon is probably the greatest thing to hit the internet since google! It will change the way you surf, be careful it may also take over your life!

  17. Nick Busey Avatar

    I found this post with SU as well, and gave you a thumbs up ;). I also replied to your post on my blog, here.

  18. Jim Avatar

    Stumbleupon isn’t really a search engine – though it can be used as one. Google and stumbleupon address different needs; if I’m looking for something specific I go to google; I use stumbleupon more like a TV – entertainment/education – only much better. So yes, stumbleupon is the new TV (and just as addictive).

    More than that it is something new entirely – none of the ingredients is new, but they way they are put together is, well, neat.

  19. anji bee Avatar

    i joined stumble upon back in early-mid 2005 but the concept didn’t really interest me much. i don’t “surf” the internet, rather i tend to return to specific sites. i saw it as yet another message board system that i didn’t have time and patience for. i mean, every social network wants you to spend copious amounts of time reading and posting blogs, reviews, comments… honestly, who can keep up with all of them?

    still, i’m willing to listen to how su can send me shitloads of traffic – particularly if i don’t have to waste half of my week trolling around through the groups to spam them about myself.

  20. Christopher Penn, Financial Aid Podcast Avatar

    Anji: That’s what MySpace is for, my friend. SU can deliver random traffic, but MySpace can deliver you intensely focused, targeted traffic. A good 60% of my audience is from MySpace.

  21. anji bee Avatar

    oh i’m on myspace alright, chris.

    you know, i hate to admit it, but i have *no idea* where my traffic comes from. it just comes, and for that i am thankful.

    maybe julien’s right about female podcasters automatically getting “massive audiences”???

  22. Christopher Penn, Financial Aid Podcast Avatar

    No, I doubt it, Anji. Being female alone, female and attractive, female and $VARIABLE, isn’t enough. There’s too much competition. For finding out more, I definitely recommend free services like Google Analytics to determine where traffic is coming from. After all, even though web promotion can be done on a low budget, the most valuable, non-renewable resource we all need is free time, and focusing marketing efforts on what REALLY works is vital to freeing up time.

    Here’s a trick I particularly enjoy and use a lot, a free exclusive to Julien’s fabulous site.

    I use Google to find MySpace blogs that mention very specific terms that are unlikely to turn up in regular conversation, then send a friend request to people blogging about it. It’s a great way to touch base. Same for Technorati, too, except you have to view source for Technorati because they embed the MySpace URLs in the code rather than on the page.

  23. Erik Kalviainen Avatar

    I’m a casual stumbler and but have been following stumbleupon for a couple of years now, and I remember a similar meme of stumble taking on Google going around back in 2005. I was skeptical then, but I’m far more likely to agree with you now. It’s funny, I’ve been evangelizing stumbleupon as a digg killer for the last few days when I came across this post (via stumbleupon of course). Why is stumbleupon better than digg? 1) less politics (digg this, don’t digg that, don’t submit that, etc.) 2) better results (my stumbles are way better than what’s on digg’s front page), 3) great for stories that are more than 24hrs old, 4) I can watch stumble video all night!

  24. terryjroo Avatar

    I don’t have much to add – I just had my 3 year anniversary on SU. I’m not as active as I once was, but still sign on every day and find things I’d never find otherwise due to having choice friends with similar interests. To experience it’s magnificence is a wonderful feeling.

  25. M. Ömer Gölgeli Avatar

    Seen many posts like this recently, and all of’em is via StumbleUpon..

  26. Stringo Avatar

    The power of Stumbleupon is to allow you to decide the make-up of the referral peers. This makes for a much better “surf”, while not usurping the power of Google’s search. It means that the internet can be serendipitous all over again.

  27. wiggy Avatar

    I gave up on Google ages ago(is it any good?) and, being a prolific Stumbleupon user,I have long come to realize that success of Stumbleupon is the sum aggregate of all its members plus the toolbar facility.It has a spontaneity and unexpected about it which surpasses the boredom of Google but SU is not a search engine per se and,to that end,performs an entirely different function.Whatever,VIVA THE REVOLUTION and “thumbs up” for giving we SUers a plug.

  28. Penguin Pete Avatar

    Your post is true for now, but there is a shark in the future and Stumble will jump it. I’ve been using it almost since it came out, and it is only recently (since it was ported to IE) that I’ve been getting some spammy sites, cheap knock-off junk, old joke sites that were stale back in 1997, and other offal. Like any other social site, it can and will be gamed by bots creating hundreds of fake IDs to rig recommends.

    But it was nice while it lasted. The search feature is actually something I use as often as Google now, since it at least cuts out *some* of the irrelevant spam sites.

  29. Jason Avatar

    This is the stupidist question I’ve ever read online!!!111!!1111oneoneeleven

  30. Voice Guy Avatar

    Speaking of ironic, I happened to “Stumble Upon” your website this evening, only to read the headline with the question “Is Stumble Upon the Next Google”?

    From my experience, you just may be right!

  31. […] StumbleUpon rocks! I played around with it a little last year but now, thanks to this post from Julien Smith, I’m really starting to see its value as a social networking tool. […]

  32. […] Now I have been a Stumbler for awhile now but I never thought of the service as possibly being the next Google; at least not like Julien over at In Over Your Head has. In an article posted today he says: Bold Statement of the Day: Stumble Upon’s traffic will be displacing the power of Boing Boing in a year. Possibly even less. […]

  33. Gary Allen Avatar
    Gary Allen

    SU reopened my interests in surfin’ again. someone liked the site you get.I can’t believe how cool the sites I found w/su are! A 5 star engine in my book !

  34. Paul Sanchez Avatar

    SU has a great community too. The people there are extremely courteous and very helpful unlike some more popular social media sites. I hope the community stays the same as they grow. I love there video page too. What would be great if they made the video page just automatically play the next video so that you could just sit back and watch random videos. Well I’m heading over to SU right now.


  35. Shrikant Joshi Avatar


    Since we are on the issue of gaming ang long-tail here, here’s a small question.

    Can’t I game a site by using a false long tail? All I have to do is create a large number of false Stumbler identities, link them as friends to each other and rate a site high. Seems like a tough job, but a few lines of code might just do it, wot?

    Don’t get me wrong I absolutely live off StumbleUpon and I would hate to see it gamed. But I’d love a sincere answer. How many times do you actually click the red-thumbs-down-i-dislike-it button during your stumbles?

    I rarely do that. Never for stumblers. Maybe I should do it more often, eh?

  36. Meredith Avatar

    I stumbled in here, too. I do want to take issue with your comment about “Yahoo’s human edited directory” – as you acknowledged, it is no longer a dominant presence when looking for things on the web, but it was never particularly “human edited” – it was more like “oligarchy edited.” A truly human edited directory would be something like the Open Directory Project at – where anyone can edit.

  37. zaibatsu Avatar


    Why do I say that, well the don’t have a Kevin Rose of Digg or Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google. Plus have you seen how much cash in the bank Google has…

    nuff said

  38. Edd The Duck Avatar
    Edd The Duck

    Google = Index

    Stumble Upon = Entertainment

    I use the two for different things, if I am researching how to do something I use google, nobody is going to give a thum’s up on how to fix my graphics card, and the probability of finding it by chance is slim to none.

    If I am bored or interested in a particular area I use stumble upon, to browse it or entertain myself.

    The interesting area is the cross over where stumble interacts with google. This has dramatically changed my surfing habits. Now if search for something rather than picking the page which ranks highest in googles algorithms, I can cherry pick the ones people found most useful.

  39. Will Avatar

    StumbleUpon is great! The algorithm behind SU is really good as well. There slightly large range of topics you select which SU randomly searches through is very innovative. However, I wish there was a larger range of more detailed topics.

  40. […] StumbleUpon is a useful tool that you can use to build up traffic to your blog. In fact, I find that StumbleUpon is much more powerful for me to get more visitors to use than social bookmarking sites like Digg. I guess bored Internet users are more inclined to go from site to site. And if your blog is delivering the information that they are looking for, then there’s a high chance that your blog will receive the better votes and continue on getting more hits. After all, if you don’t like a site, you can always click on the thumbs down button and you can rest assured StumbleUpon will not let you stumble upon that site again (No pun intended! :p). […]

  41. Fan Fan Hulmaida Avatar
    Fan Fan Hulmaida

    If many SU users thumb down a site (a practice that does need to be encouraged among SU users), does Google then count that site as more highly linked, and so as more search-result worthy? That is, could SU make Google rank poor sites higher than it otherwise would? Or does the googlemachine recognize the thumbs down as a vote of no confidence?

  42. Stupid Videos Avatar

    I’ve seen huge jumps in my traffic from SU. The thing is that most of the traffic doesn’t convert to clicks. That is ok though because what SU does do is get my pages “out there” for others to see. The more people that see and like my pages the more that link to them.
    SU is also fun and addictive.

  43. […] resource that explains what StumbleUpon is from a REGULAR WEB USER perspective, rather than a blogger or webmaster perspective, which there are lots of. And oh, you can buy traffic from StumbleUpon […]

  44. […] blogs, with Stumbleupon, with Digg, we keep the power. With structures that ask us our preferences, we can keep our human […]

  45. […] as possibly being the next Google; at least not like Julien over at In Over Your Head has. In an article posted today he says: Bold Statement of the Day: Stumble Upon’s traffic will be displacing the power of Boing […]

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