How to Set Up a Domino Effect of Traffic

dominoesDo you think your blog doesn’t have enough traffic to become popular with major social media sites like Digg, StumbleUpon and I don’t normally have a huge amount of traffic either, but I’ll show you how I was able to get over 34,000 unique visitors in two days without submitting the page to any of the sites mentioned above. And best of all, I think it is a strategy that many of you can duplicate.

With dominoes, before the fun begins you have to strategically set up the pieces. You set them up to flow from one to the next, and to multiply from one into two. As the dominoes spread, those small multiplications add up and suddenly you’ve got a whole mess of them knocked over.

With website traffic, if you’re lucky, the domino effect can happen on its own. But to have the best chance of success you’ll need to strategically put the pieces in place and push the first one to get things started.

With the right strategy even small blogs can maximize social media marketing and create more traffic than ever before. After somewhat accidentally coming across this concept, I’ve attempted the strategy three times, and twice it has resulted in new traffic highs.

How Does it Work?

Social media marketing is used by most bloggers, because if successful it can bring thousands of visitors, new links, and new subscribers in a very short period of time. Contrary to the opinion of some bloggers, having success with major social media sites does not require you to already have a popular, highly-trafficked blog (although that certainly doesn’t hurt).

Many social media sites share users. For example, a user may come across a blog post and submit it to StumbleUpon. Likewise, another user may come across that blog post on StumbleUpon and submit it to Digg. This is one of the keys to the domino effect.

Some social media sites, like StumbleUpon, are easier to have success with, and others are more likely to require a large list of “friends”, like Digg. With StumbleUpon, one person submitting your blog post can lead to thousands of visitors. With Digg, the post is very unlikely to generate much traffic unless it is submitted by a user with a lot of friends (or more accurately, a user who has been be-friended by a lot of other users).

The Importance of 2nd – Tier Social Media Sites

If you’ve done much reading on social media marketing, these statements are probably not new to you. But what many people overlook is the power of 2nd – tier social media sites. There are a number of smaller social media sites that send a significant number of visitors and are easier to have success with than the major sites. Many of these sites focus on specific niches, which can bring even higher quality traffic than say Digg or StumbleUpon.

These 2nd-Tier social media sites are essential to the strategy that I have used to produce the domino effect of traffic. As mentioned earlier, many of these sites share users, and 2nd – tier sites are no exception.

In order to set off the domino effect, I’ve been able to have blog posts become popular with 2nd – tier sites and then have the traffic that is generated from that popularity carry over and result in popularity with major social media sites.

To best explain this, I’ll lay out the strategy that I used (and how it played out) with last week’s post, 77 Resources to Simplify Your Life as a Web Designer. Back in July I started using a 2nd – tier social media site, Dzone, which is a niche site for web designers and software developers. If your post gets to the front page of Dzone it can send about 300 – 600 visitors in a day. (Note: Dzone very strictly enforces that content be on topic. Anything off topic will get nowhere and will probably be deleted. Trust me, I found this out on my own.)

In July I had two posts that became popular on Dzone (83 Webmaster Resources and Find the Perfect Colors for your Website) that also immediately began to rack up a lot of bookmarks, and wound up on the front page of It didn’t take a genius to realize that a large percentage of Dzone users are also users.

While Dzone sends a few hundred visitors in a day, sends a few thousand visitors in the same amount of time. The numbers are obviously higher, but for me the traffic from Dzone was essential and it actually provided a springboard to the traffic from Without the popularity on Dzone, the popularity on would have never occurred.

After I realized the connection between the users of the two sites I started to think of how I could maximize this traffic. To start with, I needed to have a post become popular on Dzone. After using Dzone for a little while I’ve realized certain types of blog posts that are likely to have success. So creating the right kind of content is obviously important.

Setting Up the Domino Effect

In order to benefit from the connection between Dzone and I decided that I needed to optimize my blog posts for users. I did this by adding a large link at the bottom of each post that says “bookmark this on”, and it also shows the number of people who have bookmarked the page (you can see how to use this tool in my post 10 Tips for Making Your Blog Posts More My experience is that this tool is very effective. As Dzone sends a few hundred visitors in a short period of time those visitors will be seeing increasing numbers in terms of how many people are bookmarking with As the number grows, it of course looks more tempting for them to bookmark it as well.

About a month ago I also discovered another site that seemed to have a similar audience to Dzone. CSS Globe (web design related) is a little bit different from most social media sites. There is no voting up or down, but members are able to share their links with subscribers. Adding your link will easily bring 100 – 200 visitors in a day. The audience of CSS Globe also seems to include a high percentage of users.

Now that I feel like it is very possible to get a few hundred visitors from Dzone and 100 – 200 visitors from CSS Globe, I wanted to make sure that the content of the blog post was attractive to those users who also keep their bookmarks with If you spend time on you’ll notice that lists are very popular and draw more bookmarks than the average article. Using numbers in titles also tends to help.

With that in mind, I created a list post that I felt was unique and would appeal to the audience of CSS Globe, Dzone and This part of the plan worked extremely well as 77 Resources to Simplify Your Life as a Web Designer was published late Monday September, 10 and I immediately submitted it to Dzone and CSS Globe (it’s important to get the traffic all at the same time because sites like Digg and factor in how quickly people and digging or bookmarking the page).

It reached the front page of Dzone on Tuesday September, 11. That day Dzone sent 577 visitors to the page and CSS Globe sent 280 visitors. Many of these visitors bookmarked the page with, as I had hoped, and it quickly appeared on the front page of

A decent percentage of visitors who come to the page through all of the sites listed above are also StumbleUpon users, so part of my strategy is to also include a reminder on blog posts for readers to Stumble the page. This is easily done with a button at the end of the post. I’ve chosen to only include links for users to and StumbleUpon because I feel that providing too many links, buttons, and widgets causes all of them to loose effectiveness. and StumbleUpon are the best fit for my audience and I don’t want other buttons to take away from these two.

I knew that if I was able to create a rush of traffic from Dzone, CSS Globe and, someone was bound to submit the page to StumbleUpon and the domino effect would spread again. This also happened like I had hoped, and StumbleUpon sent 9,228 visitors to the page that day.

The final piece of the strategy involved Digg. I use Digg a little bit, but I’m far from a “power user”, so I chose the highly complex strategy to do nothing and hope that someone with a better profile and more friends would submit the post to Digg. If I submitted the post myself there is no way it would have gone anywhere, but fortunately for me someone else with a lot of friends submitted it (thanks Lyndoman, if you’re reading). Digg sent 13,997 visitors that day.

The last part of the domino effect involves what happens after popularity on these sites. Yahoo Site Explorer is currently showing 2,656 links to this page (Technorati is showing 82 links). Some of the links have also brought significant traffic, and many of the sites are not even in English (which I think is an advantage of a list post rather than a long article, although this traffic is probably not the most targeted). PresseCitron has sent 1,346 visitors to date. PopURLs has sent 1,243. Many others have sent smaller amounts.

The Results

In total, the post has had 69,000 pageviews in about 5 days, 25,000 visitors from Digg, 19,000 from StumbleUpon, 4,000 from, 990 from Dzone, and 436 from CSS Globe.


  • My blog doesn’t normally draw enough traffic to have success with major social media sites, and I don’t have enough friends on Digg.
  • Instead of going directly to these sources in hope of thousands of visitors I used smaller, targeted social media sites to quickly send a few hundred visitors.
  • I choose those sites strategically and optimized my blog post to have success with and StumbleUpon.
  • I got lucky with Digg.
  • Lots of other links came as a result of the exposure to this post, and those links together sent a substantial amount of traffic.

I’ve tried this strategy 3 times now in the past 4 or 5 weeks. The first time was with 31 Sources of Quality, Free Icons which became popular with Dzone and and also got a few thousand visitors from StumbleUpon (no love from Digg). That day was an all-time traffic high for me at the time. I tried the strategy again with 89 Community Sites for Webmasters with very little success. And then the third time was last week, which resulted in a new traffic high.

How Does this Affect You?

While Dzone and CSS Globe are not applicable to bloggers in other niches, there are likely some other sites that can accomplish the same thing. All you need to do is find sites in your niche that can send a quick rush of visitors, and try to direct them to submit your page to another, larger social media site. Have a strategy targeting specific sites and you’re more likely to have success.

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