***Find the updated version of this post at this link:
Some of you might know what trackbacks and pingbacks are, some of you might THINK you know, but all of you might wonder why is this so important for me to write a whole post about.
And I will get to that… later.
For now, let me quickly tell you what trackbacks and pingbacks are.
Essentially, they both are ways for blogs to communicate with each other.
Because of the kind of technology trackbacks use, they are much more prone to spam than pingbacks.
What Are Trackbacks And Pingbacks?
Let me show you an example of a legitimate pingback.
1. This is what it looks like in my pending comments (click to enlarge).
2. When I click on it, it goes to Tia's BizChicksBlog post, where I see that she linked to one of my posts via a hyperlink.
3. This is what the pingback looks like after I approve it – it will show up in the comment section all the way at the bottom.
Now here's the important part of using pingbacks: you don't have to do a thing to use them.
WordPress does all the work for you (assuming you are on WordPress platform, of course).
If you link to other WordPress sites in any blog post, they’ll be notified automatically using pingbacks, no other action necessary.
Your blog will tell their blog that you hyperlinked to their post. Their blog in turn will come back to your blog – automatically of course – and VERIFY that such a hyperlink indeed exists.
That verification process is what makes pingbacks a much better option over trackbacks and that's what WordPress automatically uses.
Now, let's take a look at the other side of the coin: spam trackbacks.
1. This is what they look like in my pending comments (click to enlarge).
2. This is what one of those sites looks like when I click on the trackback link (their link to my blog is highlighted in yellow – click to enlarge).
This is what is referred to as a spam blog or splog.
What makes a splog a splog?
- they provide no content and no value
- their sole purpose is to earn money via AdSense, etc. or build links for a primary site of sorts
- non-existent traffic, comments, or any other evidence of user engagement – after all, that's not what they are for.
3. If I were to approve this spammy trackback, I would end up with this kind of link as part of my comment section:
You can see right away that it doesn't make much sense, unlike the previous example with the legitimate pingback.
What's the point?
So far I've given you a bunch of education on pingbacks and trackbacks. It might or might not make much sense to you and I understand that. To be quite honest, I am not completely in the clear on the issue myself.
And that's OK.
As a blogger, the ONLY THING you need to learn out of this is what a splog is, what it looks like, and the fact that you should NEVER-EVER approve such trackbacks.
What's the Big Problem with Spam Trackbacks?
Once approved, trackbacks and pingbacks provide links FROM your blog TO their blog.
Whether you know much about link building or not, you need to know at least this: you will never be penalized for the kind of links that are coming to your site (you just won't rank well), but you MIGHT be penalized by Google for the outgoing links from your site, since they are completely under your control.
If you are hungry for comments as social proof, you might be tempted to approve a spam trackback or two or even a whole bunch of them just to get rid of the dead silence on your blog – “Hey, look at that, somebody actually links to me – they must really like me!”
Really bad idea.
So learn what splogs look like and stay away from them altogether.
Learn more about link building:
How To Use Trackbacks for Traffic Generation
Now on to the fun part.
There are ways you can use legitimate trackbacks to your advantage (notice, I use the words “trackback” and “pingback” interchangeably here – because as long as they are legit, who cares what they are called!)
Notice how I linked to Tia's blog above?
When she sees my trackback in her pending comments queue, she will most likely come back to this post and maybe even leave me a comment (won't you, Tia? 🙂 ).
Once she approves the trackback, her readers will see it as well and might come back and check out my blog.
TRACKBACKS = TRAFFIC
Now imagine you write a post with 5 trackbacks to 5 different blogs? Or 10? You see my point.
This is a great way to spark an interest among bloggers who might otherwise never have a reason to come to your blog.
Learn about more ways to generate traffic:
Trackback Traffic Generation Tip You Must Use
I noticed that many bloggers use trackbacks incorrectly.
Many of you mention other blogs and bloggers on your sites, but when you link to them, you link to THEIR HOME PAGE.
Home page doesn't have comments, so those trackbacks have no way of showing up in their comment queue. That basically means they will most likely never know you linked to them.
Solution: ALWAYS link to a post. Any post.