Who provides the best traffic? Digg, Reddit or StumbleUpon?

Mikey 19 comments
Who provides the best traffic? Digg, Reddit or StumbleUpon?

I am penning this article to share with our readers Rusty Lime's experience with user retention. That is to say, how significant traffic from three popular social networking sites , Reddit and StumbleUpon has affected our stats and how many people from each respective site has been converted into a regular visitor.

Before I begin, let me be clear on something. The information provided in this article is based purely on the experiences associated with this web site as are any generalisations I make. I do not imply that it necessarily applies to other web sites. But it may serve as food for thought for other bloggers out there trying to make sense of the social networking response.


Arguably the biggest of the lot, I have mixed feelings about Digg. If you judge success by the number of front page exposures, then we have had very low success with Digg. But when we did have success (tens of thousands or over a hundred thousand visits in a few hours - thanks mrbabyman!) it was great for that day only, with the stats slowly returning to normal over the following day. Looking at the stats, Digg seldom turns a new visitor into a returning visitor. I consider a returning visitor one who can back several times during the same month.

There are many reasons why this might happen. Maybe our content isn't what they are into, or maybe, and this is the theory I lean more towards, 'Diggers' are only in it for the quick fix. As a former Digger myself I can understand this. My lunch hour would usually entail jumping from one popular submission to the next, while rarely bothering to see if the site I have been directed to has anything else interesting to offer. It's just a time issue, nothing more.

One thing positive though is Diggers like to comment, but they will pick up on any technical inaccuracy (be it true or not) because they are technically minded people. My kind of people.


The vision in my mind of a typical 'Redditor' is one who hits a link, arrives at your site, glances at the content, goes back to Reddit, repeat for another link at a pace and schedule you could set your watch to. When talking about frequency, we do get significantly more traffic from Reddit than Digg on a day to day basis. But one front page story on Digg will in just a few hours easily surpass 2 weeks worth of Reddit traffic, to which our battered server can testify.

Redditors however rarely comment, if at all.


StumbleUpon was one of those sites I deliberately avoided early on. Submitting our own articles on StumbleUpon has returned some good results, but our submissions pale in comparison to one getting picked up by a high profile user. When this happens, we easily get more traffic spread out over a week than we get from Digg. As an example, one particular article had 115,000 visitors from Digg over about 6 hours, but the same article which got picked up on StumbleUpon over 2 weeks later saw 55,000 visitors spread out over a week.

Stumblers love to comment, and they love to let you know where they came from: "I stumbled in!" is a typical start to a comment. And they love to look around. They are a unique breed of web surfer who are on a mission to find anything and everything interesting to share with others. Not only that, Stumblers keep coming back and many subscribe to our newsletter and RSS feeds. In fact while composing this article we got 2 more newsletter subscribers who say they came in from StumbleUpon.

Who do we like more?

For us, StumbleUpon wins every time. Although they usually offer lower numbers than Digg, they also offer greater return visitors and loyal subscribers. As far as Digg and Reddit are concerned, we are happy to have their traffic and the spike afforded by the sudden influx of traffic always looks good on the stats, but Stumblers have been the most kind and have proven to be long term beneficial. Essentially you could say StumbleUpon provides quality traffic.

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Thursday 25th September 2008 | 02:54 PM

Dude, why is your site novelty size? I thought I must have accidently put 300% zoom on for a second.

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Thursday 25th September 2008 | 03:06 PM

...in response to this comment by Redditor. LOL, probably because we don't all have 640x480 screens any more but other sites haven't been game enough to aim at a higher res audience?

I remember designing sites with tiny fonts so I could squeeze all the content into the viewing area... nowdays those sites look all empty and take up 1/4 of the screen.

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Thursday 25th September 2008 | 03:17 PM

...in response to this comment by Redditor. This site looks fantastic on my res of 1680 x 1050. Don't change anything.

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Thursday 25th September 2008 | 03:25 PM

I found your site through Digg. The site design is actually one reason I started subscribing to your RSS. When I get home from work I tend to kick back and browse my RSS feeds and all the top Digg submissions from the day. Your site was quite refreshing to see. I don't like to run the zoom higher than the default because most sites can't handle it.

The other reason being that I tend to agree with quite a bit of what's posted here.

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Thursday 25th September 2008 | 03:27 PM

...in response to this comment by Bales. That's great feedback thanks Bale.

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Thursday 25th September 2008 | 03:30 PM

...in response to this comment by Redditor. I thought it was a little big too but they have a tool in the top right that lets you switch between big and small.

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Thursday 25th September 2008 | 07:40 PM

I would agree with most of that except we get more daily from digg than from reddit. Mixx also bring in a fair share for us. Thanks for the info all the same.

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Thursday 25th September 2008 | 08:52 PM

Hi Mike,

So, as a contributor, I am hoping you can outline an easy way for us to get the best out of submitting our posts to Stumble, and others. It would appear to me that when you personally put one of your posts on Stumble, that you re format them somehow.

I am not as savvy as you and many of our readers when it comes to the internet. For me, I need specifics. You know, step 1,2,3 etc. Perhaps a tutorial in our "help" section, on how to get the best out of submitting our articles to these types of sites you are talking about.

So there you have it: definitive confusion.


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Thursday 25th September 2008 | 09:20 PM

...in response to this comment by Bales. I absolutely love the site design, especially the "Novelty Size" factor.
It would be a shame if it's all lost in the redesign ...*hint* *hint*

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Friday 26th September 2008 | 05:28 AM

...in response to this comment by Friendo. Hey mate,

There's nothing really here to tell. You know how to add stuff to social networking sites. There's no way of controlling how your submissions look or anything like that, although Stumble allows you to edit the HTML but that doesn't make any difference anyway.

I do put the occasional post on StumbleUpon but that's proven near pointless because I don't have a large following. The massive traffic that has come to Rusty Lime has always been generated by a 3rd party making the submission.

Sorry, no secrets to tell or anything like that :-/

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Friday 26th September 2008 | 07:33 AM

Mikey, really interesting stuff mate! I'm in the habit of submitting articles to all of those as soon as I post it, then on facebook to all of my gazillions of friends and then on the facebook rustylime page.

I don't know if it brings anymore traffic than if I were to do nothing more than just posting, but it is interesting to see where people find what they like to read.

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Saturday 27th September 2008 | 11:36 AM


This is interesting, but could you expand on why it's important to have a lot of traffic? I mean, does that mean something monetarily, like, Myspace w/all the adverts? Not that I have anything against that, but just wondering.....

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Man Overboard

Saturday 27th September 2008 | 12:08 PM

Interesting post.

The Babelers have been split on how exactly to treat social bookmarking sites and how to go about attracting traffic.

We did have some early success with SU (although certainly not the type of traffic you describe). I have found that the harder we try to promote our site via these tools, the more distracted we become with results. The quality as well as the quantity of our content suffers as a result.

You guys seem to have a good balance over here and clearly enjoy plenty of success. Care to offer up any words of wisdom?

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The Movie Whore

Saturday 27th September 2008 | 01:22 PM

Write it and they will come.

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Sunday 28th September 2008 | 07:05 AM

...in response to this comment by Man Overboard. Hi Man Overboard,

I wish I had something more to offer on the subject. I know it takes time to submit every article to all the major sites, so I personally only submit certain articles to where I expect they would have the best chance. Funny and interesting stuff usually does better as StumbleUpon as that sort of thing seems to dominate their user pages. Whereas technical/political etc has a better chance at Digg and Reddit. Some of our writers also submit to Facebook which has had moderate success.

But one thing we know is that we all need to keep doing it :-)

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Man Overboard

Monday 29th September 2008 | 10:32 AM

Somehow I knew you would say that. The Babelers have been working as fast as they can...

"Perhaps I can find new ways to MOTIVATE them"

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bobby sandhu

Monday 29th September 2008 | 01:38 PM

Nice read. Being on all of these 3 platforms i agree with everything you have said and i can easily categorize myself as a digger... its always a time issue. Stumble Upon provides really good results based on one's choice, but mostly i see them repeating the same pages again and again.

However wherever you go, its always about the power politics. Once you have that settled in, the big guys of number and figures can sink and raise your pages. Been a victim many times. Its a microcosm of the world politics.



Friday 4th September 2009 | 05:06 PM
1 total kudos | 1 for this comment

Hey Mike,

Came in from google as was specifically looking for posts on using these sites effectively. Great post!

You're spot on about Reddit. Decided to give it a go last night and posted a link... i got a thousand visits from it in a space of 3 hours. As you say, looks great on the visit stats, but really bad bounce rate and although I got comments on reddit, none on the actual post.

I definitely see a big difference in quality from Stumble Upon.

Been trying to get my head round digg and stumbleupon. I know it's really successful if you manage to get your stuff voted up by a power user, but how do you get to that? I mean, the likes of MrBabyMan probably gets spammed constantly by people hoping for a digg.

Stumbled btw!

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Monday 7th September 2009 | 06:00 AM
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...in response to this comment by EvenFlowDave. It's a bit of blind luck mostly. We got picked up by Mrbabyman once and it bought the server to it's knees. Digg traffic as expected is only temporary without much retention. I've been inactive on most social bookmarking sites for a while but people continue to keep coming which is great.

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