All Website Traffic is Not Equal

“Quality versus Quantity” is an ongoing debate online. Whether it’s followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook, the numbers seem to matter to some. When it comes to website traffic though, I think most would agree with me that quality traffic is far superior to volume anytime.

Focussed Content for Improved Engagement

Keeping focussed on your blog topics, Twitter updates or Facebook statuses will lead to website traffic that is interested in the subject you focus on. In turn that traffic should have more chance of engaging with your site, leading to higher conversion rates.

Therefore, the announcement that StumbleUpon is referring more website traffic in the US than Facebook is quite meaningless, as I will show.

They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy…*

Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors that come to your website and leave without visiting another page. Real data, below, from this site shows the bounce rate for traffic from StumbleUpon compared with Facebook.

Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate

As you can see most of the StumbleUpon traffic leaves almost immediately, never engaging with the site. The reason for this is that StumbleUpon traffic is forced. On the other hand much more of the Facebook traffic stays to engage with the content further.

Nature of the Beast

The very nature of how StumbleUpon works means that most of the resulting traffic is low quality. You tell StumbleUpon your areas of interest, and it attempts to deliver relevant content at a click of a button, to your screen. User engagement is low as there is a tendency to scan the loaded page, then click again for the next “Stumble”.

I see spikes in traffic from StumbleUpon every month or so, as a blog post is picked up by their system and forced in front of users. Other than bumping up my visitor rate, there is no further value.

Am I missing something, or is everyones experience of StumbleUpon referrals similar to mine?

*Lyrics from Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too

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  • Hard to tell. The initial bounce rate might be high but it depends what the Stumbleupon user does when they’re on the site. If they’re glancing at the page and leaving, that’s low-value. But if they’re taking a look, deciding they like what they see and then either bookmark an article or subscribe to the RSS feed in order to come back again later then it might have deferred value.

    It’s tricky, because I’m not sure how well Analytics tracks things like RSS-subscribe options, but I guess you could try to spot a Stumbleupon spike and then cross-reference with Feedburner to see if you had a corresponding increase in subscribers, something like that?

  • Darren,

    Good point you could cross reference quite easily as StumbleUpon traffic does tend to come in spikes, for me at least.

    Time on Site is another reference point, typically StumbleUpon traffic has very low Time on Site, suggesting low levels of engagement.

  • Interesting post and good question for the technically minded about the value of StumbleUpon referrals – personalised referrals always have more value for me, I suspect that explains the lower bounce rate for facebook (if you visit a site/shop/town because a friend recommends it you are more likely to explore).

  • Traffic Motion

    I’ve had the exact same experience with Stumbleupon. After about 6 months of using it and tracking the results, it’s hard to tell if there’s been any benefit to it or not.

    Am I really going to miss those 5-6 visitors a day who spend 0-2 seconds on the site and have a >90% bounce rate? I think my marketing resources might be better spent on other social sharing sites.