Trackbacks vs Pingbacks Explained: Why You Should Definitely Read This Post

Trackbacks vs Pingbacks Explained: Why You Should Definitely Read This Post

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***Find the updated version of this post at this link:

trackbacks vs pingbacksSome 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).

legitimate trackback image

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.

trackback with 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.

approved pingback image

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).

spam trackbacks image

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).

spam blog image

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:

spam trackback my blog

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.

So….

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.

BIG mistake!

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.

traffic generation cafe trackbacks vs pingbacks

traffic generation cafe comment below

Google+ Comments

138 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Hello Ana,
    I just wanted to thank for an outstanding explanation of ping backs and track backs. At this time i am blocking all track backs on my blog. I notice i have some that go back to a real blog…should i approve those is that link to a post only? Thanks for all you do!

    James

  2. OK. Last questions. I promise. (Well, for now.)
    The Simple Trackback Validation plug-in shows a warning it hasn’t been updated in more than 2 years. Is it still good to go?
    Both plug-ins are only for self-hosted WP, right? Is there anything a WP.com user can do?
    One more time, thanks so much!

    • Ana Hoffman

      I’ll start charging you after this one, Stephan. LOL

      Yes, it’s fine; I’ve used it for quite a while and had no trouble.

      • Thanks! I appreciate all your answers.

        Any ideas on how to control the spammy ones on wp.com?

        Wait – I’ll owe you for that one. Maybe we can work out an in-kind deal. LOL

  3. When I read (and re-read) your post, what I took away was, basically, trackbacks/pingbacks are a good thing when they are from legitimate sources. So, check each one for legitimacy; if so, thank them, then approve it; if not, disapprove it.
    Then I read the comments and I got a different message: check each one for legitimacy; if so, thank them. Then delete the tb/pb. (Of course, deleting all non-legit ones.) And, the thank-you is really just a courtesy if you have the time to do so. Install those two plug-ins and that should filter out most of the junk for you, enabling you to have the time to check out the legit ones, thank them, and create more connections/relationships.
    Am I getting the right message from the comments?
    If so, then going back to my original question about why the course instructor disabled the options in WP.com: if you would never approve any, why allow them in the first place? (I’m guessing simply to be aware of them and to spark up a conversation/connection with that other author.)
    Thanks again!

    • Ana Hoffman

      That’s true, Stephan – I only use pingback notifications to go back to the originating blog to thank them for the mention (a courtesy, as well as a good networking step). Once I do that, I delete the pingback and never publish it on my blog.

      The logic behind it:

      When someone links to you, it’s great for SEO.

      If you publish the pingback for that link, it’s as if you are linking right back to them.

      That takes away any SEO benefit.

  4. Wow! Great explanation, Ana. I’m just starting to set things up and was using a Lynda.com course to get a quick tutorial on WP.com, but the instructor pretty much skipped over this part and I thought it was probably important. I’m glad I found this post!
    In the tutorial, he unchecked the option to even allow pingbacks and trackbacks. Perhaps it was just because he was using the post for the tutorial, but I cannot imagine why one would wish to turn off that valuable feature. Am I missing something there?
    Thanks again.

    • Ana Hoffman

      I wouldn’t completely turn it off, Stephan; you still want to be notified when another solid blog links to you. Once you know how to control the spammy ones, there’s no need to turn them off.

  5. Just thought of a question. If I write a post and within that post link to another post on my site I get a message in my comments section that there is a ping back for approval. Is this the correct way to link to other post within your own blog? And should I approve the ping back? What happens if you don’t approve a ping back?

    • Ana Hoffman

      There’s no reason to approve self-pings, Rodney.

      Hard to explain why without turning this comment into a post; just trust me.

  6. I’m simply echoing the sentiments already expressed…thank you for clearing this up. I use a self hosted version of WordPress and I just click the spam button in the comments approval section. I’ve gotten a few legit comments (emphasis on few). Question: What do you think about Akismit as a spam blocker? I’ve been considering getting a paid subscription. Thanks again.

  7. Great post Ana, trackbacks and pingbacks confused the hell out of me but I can now see the difference but I think the real good advice is simply not to approve any of them .. so that is now my policy… Keep up the good work, this is the blog I come back to regularly for traffic tips, advice and general guidance!!

  8. Jesse

    Thank you for this pingback and trackback info – I want to pretend that I understand,,,, but not yet – My blog gets hit so many times I need to be more savvy as to what to do….
    Jesse.

  9. Thanks for this article Ana. I get this question upon occasion from clients and to be entirely honest, I never was 100% clear on it myself. Despite having read the definition repeatedly. Thanks again!

  10. Thank you Ana for clearing up this very confusing topic of pingbacks and trackbacks. I have read several different posts about this topic and this one is by far the least confusing.

    I am always hesitant to approve pingbacks but I feel obligated if they are coming from a reputable source. Leaving a comment on their blog post and thanking them for the referral instead is a great way to avoid the obligation and having to link back to their site. Thanks.

  11. I thought I had understood your article until I read one of your answers to a comment. You say you would
    1. See if any of the pingbacks you get are legitimate links to your content. Go over to that blog, thank them for the mention, then come back to yours and DELETE the pingback.
    2. DELETE all other pingbacks.
    3. Don’t approve any of them.

    Do you mean that even for legit pingbacks, you thank the person at their site, and then come back to your own site and delete that pingback on your own site?

    Is that even possible? If you have made the hyperlink from your site to their site, that would show up as a pingback on their site. OK, but you wouldn’t have a pingback to delete on your own site would you? You would just have the hyperlink out from your site, not a pingback that you could delete?

    Or….do you automatically get a reciprocal pingback from them when their site automatically checks your site to make sure the link is there?

    I think the penny might have just dropped, but I’m still not sure.

    • Ana Hoffman

      So we are talking about THEM linking to YOUR site, Carol. That’s when you get a pingback notifying you that someone linked to your post.

      It appears just like a regular comment in your moderation queque, right? You can approve it, trash it, or send it into spam.

      If you were to approve it, then the link back to THEIR blos will show up in your comments. Essentially, it means that they linked to you and you, by publishing their pingback, will link right back to them. Makes sense?

      There’s no need for reciprocal linking like that. Might wipe out all the SEO benefits from them linking to you to begin with.

      That’s why I never approve any pingbacks.

      • I have an example that I’m thinking about to sort this out in my head:
        I sometimes get a pingback from someone using Related links software – the other person uses that software to scan the internet and it gives that person 10 related topics that that other person then publishes at the end of their article – but only when you/I/their readers mouse over the text in their post: ‘Related Links’.

        I usually check them out, (and discover that this is a Related Links pingback), and I don’t publish their pingback at my end.

        I believe that means they still have a link to my site via their related links, but nothing goes from me in the other direction, to the other person’s site. So, I MIGHT get some traffic from them, but I’m not ‘giving them’ anything back by way of endorsement from my site.

        If I think about this the other way round, for when it’s me that is linking out of my site TO someone else’s article:

        Suppose I give a rave review in my post to someone and add a hyperlink to their article from mine. They will get a pingback from me. Then they will come to my site to see if I’m legit (I am…mostly).

        That MIGHT be all that I get: one visit from one person. And THEY will get traffic from anyone at my site who clicks on the hyperlink I made in my article.

        IF they decide to approve my pingback, a link to my blog will appear below their Comments section. That might be worth something for increasing a few visitors to me, from them.

        If that pingback is a nofollow link, I won’t get any street cred for that pingback link to me, in the eyes of Google. So why is that different to an ordinary Comment I make at their site with it’s link back to me – which are usually nofollow, unless they are lovely commentluv people.

        And…..I still don’t have a pingback FROM them into my Dashboard Comments section, that I could choose to publish so it appears on my site, but according to you, I should delete.

        Where/how do I get that pingback back FROM a legit person by sending them one.

        This is really hurting my brain! I think that’s probably a good thing.

        • The real think I don’t ‘get’ is where you say there is value to me in hyperlinking out to authority blogs in my articles:

          i.e where is the value to me of writing a post with 5-10 hyperlinks to other people – apart from getting their attention, and getting my name out there?

          Of course that is worth something, but it won’t have a direct boost on my traffic numbers back to me, or impress Google in any way, will it?

          If they follow your advice and delete all pingbacks anyway, my pingback (from me to them), won’t show up on their website at all, either.

          I really hope you don’t get fed up with me pestering you like this!

          • Ana Hoffman

            All great questions, Carol.

            You need to link out for several reasons, namely:

            1. You network with other bloggers. They notice you, come to your blog, like your content, and mention you next time they blog on the topic. =Traffic back to you.
            2. Google does care about outgoing links. All reputable sites link to other relevant sources. Spam sites don’t. They link within their own networks. So Google does perceive links out as an indicator that they are looking at a quality site.
            3. It’s good to give your readers additional resources.

        • Ana Hoffman

          You get a pingback ONLY when there’s a link in the post body, Carol. That’s one of the reasons those Related Links trackbacks are not real trackbacks, since they are not in-content links.

          If anyone links to you from a comment (like is the case when someone publishes your pingback TO them – it’s treated like a commet for all intents and purposes), you don’t get a pingback from them.

          In other words, you’ll never know that someone published your pingback unless you go to that blog and physically check it.

          • Thanks Ana,
            I have always found links/backlinks/trackbacks/pingbacks confusing, but I think I’ve finally ‘got it’. I’m putting this new info to use on my own blog.

            Carol

            • Ana Hoffman

              You are so welcome, Carol.

              Left a comment on your post; I am truly flattered! Hope it doesn’t land in your spam folder.

              • It did land in my Spam Folder!
                I’ve been trusting Akismet (mostly), but I’m going to have to check out what they get up to a bit more closely.

  12. Thanks Ana for your insight into these things which I still find slightly confusing :( This is because I have many trackbacks and pingbacks and don’t know what to do with them. Are you suggesting that I check out from which site they came and then approve or otherwise? And is a pingback safer than a trackback or the other way round? Please clarify this small dilemma I have!

    • Ana Hoffman

      I think I need to update this post a bit, Joseph – all good questions.

      I would:

      1. See if any of the pingbacks you get are legitimate links to your content. Go over to that blog, thank them for the mention, then come back to yours and DELETE the pingback.
      2. DELETE all other pingbacks.
      3. Don’t approve any of them.

  13. Ok this was really great advice. I never knew this information about trackbacks and pingbacks. I started a new blog about a month ago and really focusing on content for my niche.

    This is really great information and looking forward to learning from you.

    You mentioned something about linking going out. I use sources in my posts, they usually link to other blogs I read or books I own and read…so something like Amazon…is this ok…

    • Ana Hoffman

      Linking out is not only OK, but is to be expected for a reputable site, Phill; just make sure you link out to solid sites as well.

      When adding affiliate links, just make sure they open in a new window and are nofollow.

  14. I’ve been trying to decide about approving or deleting my own trackbacks from onsite linking. It doesn’t seem like there is any reason to do so. I’ve already made the linking happen so no reason to double it. Plus I think it takes up too much room and muddies up the comment section of posts. Am I thinking right…or is it just too early in the morning for me?! :)

  15. Hello Ana,
    My site is only about 5 months old, and just over the last few weeks I have started getting Track/Pingbacks arriving; at first 5 0r 6 a day, and now they are arriving in the hundreds every day, sometimes a thousand or so.
    Some of them are from .edu sites which surprised me.
    It’s possible some of them might be genuine but it would be impossible time-wise to go through them all, so I just delete them all in one go.
    Is there no way of controlling this problem?
    Regards,
    Michael

    • Ana Hoffman

      The only reason to go through pingbacks is to visit the legitimate originating sites and thank them for linking to you, Michael.

      In either case, you should never publish them. I’d spend your time doing something more productive – most likely they are all spam.

      Two things you should do:

      1. Install GASP plugin.
      2. Install Simple Trackback Validation.

      Those two should take care of your problem.

      • Many thanks Ana,
        I have to say I do enjoy your site, it’s like a breath of fresh air after most of the sites I have been on.
        It proves you can make even the most daunting and somewhat mundane subjects interesting.
        I look forward to getting acquainted with your site more intimately as time goes on.
        Michael

      • Hi Ana,
        After installing the ‘GASP’ plugin on your recommendation, the spam trackback/pingback barrage has finally ceased.
        Thanks for the advice; the number of trackback/pingbacks coming into my site had reached over 12,000 a week – a real nightmare!
        Please accept a cyber-hug from me.
        Regards,
        Michael

  16. Thanks for the quick guide. Your article ranks well for the search “what should you do with Pingbacks” – well done!

  17. Gayan

    I was wondering about legitimate pingbacks. Should I approve them? Because if we approve them, they become 2-way backlinks and it may affect to the link value.

    I’d love hear your opinion Ana!

    I just read about disallowing trackbacks at Yoast.

    Cheers,
    Gayan
    (could please spare a moment to send me an email once you reply to this comment)

  18. For a while there was a robot somewhere that was posting fake trackbacks. They looked like trackbacks but there wasn’t a link at their site. I haven’t seen any of those lately, but I’m sure they’ll be back around sometime soon. 8=(

    Thanks for the good explanation Ana!

    • Ana Hoffman

      There still is, Bill – Digi Auto Links. Good thing Andy Bailey built in a special detector for such trackbacks in the spam-blocking GASP part of CommentLuv Premium.

  19. Hi Peter

    When you write an article on your bog and link to an article on another blog that has pingback capabilities turned on, the process will happen automatically… provided you’ve got it turned on at your end.

    Many bloggers are turning off the ping mechanism since they are swamped with legitimate comments and pingbacks let alone the spam.

  20. Hi Ana and thanks for being such a star – might have known you’d have it all covered already!
    Do you ever worry about the day when you have absolutely nothing left to teach us, cos you said it all already?!
    Answered my question perfectly – I’ll stop bugging you now:)

    • Ana Hoffman

      lol, Mandy – I have so many ideas for post, I could publish a post a day and still have quite a supply!

  21. Hi Ana I have a question that maybe I missed in one of the post above. I use some article marketing to build links I know it is not as good as it once was but I do see some pages rank well. I receive alot of trackbacks from these sites. Should I approve them or just delete them. Most of them go back to my article but I don’t see any real value in having them on my blog in the comment section. What is your opinion

  22. Hi Ana,
    Is it useful to approve pingbacks that come through from your own blog. E.g. a pingback from a link from one of your own pages to another of your own pages bcz you provided a link in your own article? Does that make sense? Or am I just better to delete the “internal” pingbacks?

    Thanks, Eileen.

    • Ana Hoffman

      The only reason to approve your own pingbacks is for internal linking purposes, Eileen.

      However, if you are using a related posts plugin of sort or link to relevant posts within your content, then you don’t need them.

      I never publish them personally.

  23. Hey Ana,

    thanks for publishing this. I reckon I was about 80% of the way there with understanding trackbacks and pingbacks – as it happens I was doing the right thing as I always check out where they come from and if the site looks dodgy I don’t approve & trash it.

    Now I think I get it almost completely – and I’m off to read your related posts on the subject to make sure! ;-)

    Thanks again Ana,
    Alan

  24. Hi Ana!
    This post was the most valuable one I have read in regards to WordPress, as I am a wordpress ‘newbie’ blogger. So to speak. I did not know what trackback or pingbacks were and how they can be both damaging and valuable. Very glad i have subscribed to your email and site.
    Have a great day!
    crystal

    • Ana Hoffman

      Thanks for such enthusiastic thumbs up, Crystal!

      This is definitely great to know early on. I didn’t know this when I started and now paying for it!

  25. Great advice to link to posts and not to homepage, I should begin to use pingbacks too. As for me on my blog I use Lyvefire so there is pratically no spam but I’ll surely go to check any old tracback I received before using it. Anyway my way to deal with them was to check the link and if it was a splog throw it into the spam bin. Which happened 95 % of times.

    Let me ask a question pretty unrelated, have you ever written a review about SiteBuildIt? Honestly I’ll stick with WP and won’t change but I know a lot of people talk about it and I’d like to know, just for curiosity, if there is something else beside a good affiliate plan with it. Who better than you can write a honest review? And if you’ve already done it forget the question, I haven’t read all your articles. :)

    Thanks again for another great article.

    • Ana Hoffman

      I’ve never personally used it, Andrea, but I did have a client who wanted to improve his design and SEO and we ended up moving him to Thesis theme on WP.

      I’ll stick with WP. lol

      • I see Ana, but given that SBI is pushed a lot, for its affiliate program probably, in many places a honest review would keep things in balance. At least before buying it customers would have a chance to hear another version. Unbiased as you don’t earn a penny saying that WP is better and why.

        Anyway I understand what you mean. :)

        Have a great weekend!

        • Ana Hoffman

          Love the idea, but that would require me to build an SBI site, and that takes quite a bit of work. lol

  26. Yea, trackback spam is annoying as captchas dont block them. So you have to manually check the link(s), and report accordingly. Annoying at best.

  27. Thank you so much for this super post, Ana. I’ve already linked to it from my post about the dirty, rotten trackback spammers who are KILLING trackbacks. Their selfishness has ruined an effective tool for raising awareness as I explain in my post about trackback spam tools to avoid.

    Many legitimate bloggers are falling for these plugins that are being heavily promoted on places like Warrior Forum. They need to know they are ruining their reputation and will be blacklisted by many influential bloggers.

    Some of my favorite most popular blogs have already blocked all trackbacks because they (and GrowMap) are being simply flooded with spammy phony trackbacks. While link building IS necessary, doing it by spamming blogs is NOT the way to do it!

    I just wish pingbacks consistently worked. They don’t. The wisest bloggers who are blocking trackbacks are using alerts and setting up searches to let them know when other bloggers link to them so they can support their efforts and share the posts that include references or links to them.

    Maybe we should even tell each other to make sure? We could leave a comment in a post, or send a tweet or I could add a section for that to the new forum @VernessaTaylor and I are setting up for DoFollow CommentLuv bloggers. I encourage all of your readers who are DF CL bloggers to leave a comment in my blog so I can get them on my lists.

    • Ana Hoffman

      You are so right, Gail – it’s a catch 22 in many ways.

      We are tired of the spam trackbacks, but because we block them every way we can, we also end up blocking the legitimate ones.

      I started sending email/tweets to the people I mention in my posts. Lots of extra work, but it’s the only way that works for now.

      Thanks for coming by and the link!

  28. Hmmm. From now on I’ll try to always link to a specific post on your blog, Ana!

    Also Ana, there are a LOT of spammers on G+ – men and “women” from India – all marketing BS. I now delete all emails from G+ without even bothering to look at who is linking or circling me or whatever it is they do…

    I’m also compiling a list of bot blogs, so should anybody find one – find me and leave the link here:
    http://dave-lucas.blogspot.com/2012/02/blog-or-bot.html

    • Ana Hoffman

      I choose not to be notified about anything from G+ – it can definitely get too overwhelming too quickly.

      Thanks for the link and I’ll let you know if I see any bots crawling around.

  29. Gustav

    Hi Ana,
    I was one of the ones mentioned at the beginning of this post that “thought I knew all about trackbacks”. I had read several explanations regarding it and it seemed okay to accept. I also heard about Digi Links and had no idea it was a spammer plugin. I bought the CommentLuv plugin from you some time ago, but haven’t got it installed on all of my sites..been awful busy and a bit lazy too I’m afraid. Thanks again for very useful information and helping to avoid penalties for bad linking.

    • Ana Hoffman

      Glad I could shed some light on the issue, Gustav.

      Now onto more serious matters: I do appreciate your purchase, but now I have to give you a virtual kick in the you-know-where.

      You haven’t take advantage of CL Premium yet???

      DO IT!

  30. sharon akinoluwa

    Hi Ana, I believe in one word, LinkBacks (Trackbacks and Pingbacks ) allow you to notify another site that you wrote something related to what is written on a specific page…. but it is unfortunate how human beings can take good ideas and abuse it.

  31. Kevin Martin

    Thanks for writing this about trackbacks and pingbacks, Ana. Before reading this post, I was mostly ignorant about trackbacks and pingbacks. Now I have a much better idea about how they work. Once again, thanks.

  32. Ana,
    After I read this report I realized I really know the difference. My bad!!
    At least I don’t feel lonely, you have a few people that were confused.
    :) Have a good one.
    kathy

    • Ana Hoffman

      I was confused until I researched the topic, Kathy – most of these things are not intuitive at all!

  33. evening Ana,

    I’m so sick of spam on my site that I’ve turned comments, pingbacks etc off. Tonight while posting an article that I’d written and was recently published, I debated about turning ping/trackbacks on because the content of the article is important to a non profit org that needs some notice right now. In my mini debate I did a search on the topic and found your post. This is a great help! Thanks for taking the time to illustrate the ping/track thing.
    all the best to you,
    Cindy O’Neil

    • Glad I could help, Cindy.

      I’d highly recommend you install a free anti-spam plugin called GASP – it’s great at controlling both spam bots and trackbacks.

      • wow, you’re fast. at some point i certainly will check out your recommendation. to be honest, i’m putting every bit of energy i have into a donation event for the World Parrot Refuge. there’s just so much to learn and figure out with technology evolving at warp speed. wouldn’t it be great if compassion developed that fast too :) all the best to you Ana.
        Cindy

  34. Ana, this article is so informative. I became intrigued by all the trackbacks that were being “moderated” by G.A.S.P., the plugin that also blocks robospam comments. Was GASP being too conservative and blocking good trackbacks? I checked out a couple. They were splogs! I didn’t know the name before I read your article, but even then I could see that they were bogus. So I don’t question GASP any more. It’s protecting my blog. BTW GASP comes “bundled” with the CommentLuv Premium plugin.

  35. Thanks for making this distinction, Ana. I’m still a little confused why sometimes I get the pingback from other WordPress blogs and sometimes I do not.

    In the past week, I had 5 links included in posts on WordPress blogs but haven’t received a pingback from them. I would not even know about these posts had it not been for Twitter. What gives? I would gladly approve these pingbacks.

    I’ve had the same issues when I link to my other blogs. Sometimes these pingbacks appear, and sometimes they do not. It makes me wonder how many times I’m linking out to someone and they don’t know about it.

    Any suggestions?

    • Brad, you could check the settings on the Settings->Discussion admin page. The first 2 options are related to pingbacks.

      The first will determine if your blog will attempt a pingback when you link to someone else’s blog.

      The 2nd will determine if your blog will accept them. If you have this turned on, then the problem may be that the other bloggers have turned off the first one (provided they’re using WordPress).

      It is also possible that there is something not working in the pingback mechanism due to the way your site is configured, but the first thing to check would be the settings on this page.

  36. Enjoying your posts Ana. Nice to see you talk about both inbound and outbound links, which form a site’s overall link neighborhood. Most people miss this. Quality over quantity always required – on both sides. Keep up the great work!

    • These are simple steps that make a difference, George – it’s all about knowing what to look for.

      Thanks for coming by!

  37. Dan

    Ana – simply LOVE IT. I see these comments on my blogs, and just never wanted to take the time to figure out what they really were – Thanks for doing the work and clearing this up.

    As usual, another content rich post from my favorite Traffic Generation guru! :)

    Dan

    • Hi, Deepak:

      Do you autoapprove comments on your blog?

      If so, it should take care of pingbacks as well. If not, then I don’t think there is a way to do it.

      By the way, pingbacks can still be spammy.

      I get on average about 10 spam pingbacks on my blog, so I wouldn’t recommend autoapproving them for that simple reason.

      Ana

      • Ana,

        Thanks for your advice. Later on last night, I went to my gmail account and marked certain criteria to make the pingbacks already read messages. Now I can just approve or dissapprove all at one time every few days – efficiency!

        Deepak

  38. Ana, thanks for explaining what trackbacks and pings mean. There are a lot of people out there that don’t understand this.

    As for linking to a individual post instead of a post, never thought of doing it for trackbacks. I normally do it because an article is worth mentioned or is part of my article. In the future, I will keep this in mind when mentioning a website. I will try and search their site for a related topic and see how well it works.

    • Most definitely.

      If you are linking to someone’s blog, might as well get a link back and possibly even some traffic, huh?

      Good for them and good for you.

      Plus, I hate finding out that someone wrote an article about me and I had no clue simply they linked to my home page.

      Ana

  39. Hi Ana.

    This is the best explanation of trackbacks vs pingbacks that I have come across. I was not totally clear on the two in functionality before, but fully understand now thanks to you. :-)

    I will rummage through my archives and seek out any undesirables.

    Good stuff!

  40. Hey Ana, appreciate the clarification on the trackbacks. It has always been one of those things you see but it never takes priority when it comes to researching what they really are. Thanks for taking the time to lay it out in a simple way.

    • You are exactly right, Rob – it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that should take a priority.

      However, now that I’ve done all the research, there should be no excuses to not know the ill effects that can have on your blog. :)

      Have a great Sunday.

  41. Karen Cruz

    Hi Anna. I now know what a splog is. I was getting trackbacks in my comments and when I followed it I had an entire poem I had written on one of these sites. I commented to get it removed and it was never approved so I went to their web host and complained. They do come in very handy to find out who’s scraping your content.

    • Hi Karen,

      I can imagine how frustrating that incident was and how you need to waste your time just to get rid of it and solve the problem. At least now you can be more careful with it.

      Carry on,

      Ana

  42. John

    You’re right. WordPress makes the pingback procedure effortless since it is completed automated. I didn’t really have a clue to what trackbacks were but I have seen them numerous times around the web. T

    hank you for the in-depth information on what trackbacks really are and how to use them properly. I have never used them before, but see how effective they could be.

  43. Darrin Kuykendall - Converting Non-Believers

    At one point, I was getting consistent spam from 1 specific IP adddress. I was so fed up I contacted my hosting company, Midphase, and told them directly to block & put up a firewall from that IP. It was some Russian based server & Russian base site with the same spammy links.
    I actually just installed the Growmap plugin myself. But I still do use Akismet as well.
    The one thing I wonder however, is choosing between a good and the right, or most efficient commenting system. I see a lot of bloggers using Disqus, but there are also IntenseDebate. I think Auttomatic needs to start taking commenting on their system more seriously though.

    • You know, Darrin – I do get a lot of spam links from certain IP addresses; one of these days, I’ll get mad enough to call my hosting company!

      One thing about Disqus – it’s a nofollow comment system, and I have a dofollow blog. So that doesn’t work too well. I am not sure about Intense Debate.

      Also, if you use the defaul tWP comment system, your comments can actually rank on Google as any other page on your blog would; not any other comment system though.

      Ana

      • Darrin Kuykendall - Converting Non-Believers

        Yeah, that’s a great point about Disqus being no-follow. I didn’t even think about that.
        One feature I do kinda miss is from Seesmic — when they had the ability to video comments. I’m not sure if the plugin is still around anymore or has been updated to the latest versions. Video commenting may have not picked up that much in the past, but, the way things are moving towards more active engagement & focus on getting quality comments, it might be a something bigger int he future.

  44. Wow, you did it again, Ana!

    I’ll have to go through my blog and see what splog I’ve approved unknowingly. Thanks for the tip (and for adding ONE MORE thing to my to-do list!) LOL

    Also thanks for all the visuals. They really helped me to understand!

    Thanks!
    Heather

  45. Ana, thanks so much. Didn’t have the foggiest what the difference was… and to be honest will have to re-read it again just to let it sink in but you have done a great job explaining.

  46. Hi Ana,

    Great to have had the semantics sorted here. To be honest I have always discerned these by those that are useful which I like and those that have nothing at all to do with value for my blog. I have a tad more insight now after your explanation. Thank you.

    ~Marcus

    • Hi, Marcus-

      That’s what it comes down to – the value.

      Whatever you call them, if they are generated from good blog and good discussions, they are always welcome.

      It’s the other type I want readers to be aware of.

      Good to see you!

  47. Pulkit Gera

    I would recommend linking to a post on their blog that has some relevance, at least, to the post your are linking from. And if I have to leave a good impression, I would make sure the link is never nofollowed.

    • Good suggestion, Pulkit.

      In cases, I can’t find/don’t have time to find a relevant post, I simply trackback to the latest post.

      Anything is better that the home page.

      Ana

  48. Thanks Ana for an easy to understand explanation of this topic. I am learning so much by visiting experienced bloggers sites like yours. So far are all my trackbacks have been genuine but now I will know if any are not. Thanks so much for sharing this Ana. Much appreciated.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • You are welcome, Particia.

      As your blog grows, you will start getting more and more of spam trackbacks.

      I used to get up to a thousand plus of them per day!

      Now I am officially spam-free. :)

  49. Ana,
    You must be bored of seeing me here today lol! But it’s not my fault you whip out good and useful content that keeps me coming back for more :).

    This is an exceptional explanation. Thank you for making it so easy to read and idiot proof :) – and for including so many examples. Like you said, sometimes we think we know what they are. It seems I had a lot more to learn on the topic.

    I have a Question for you if you don’t mind.

    How do you get your pingbacks to look all nice and neat like that? I mean with just the title and without all the added html and so forth. Mine don’t look very pretty :(. Do I need to install something or just tweak the settings somewhere?

    Thanks again for this very efficient and helpful tutorial.

    PS – Seeing the kind of super blogger gal that Tia is, I’m sure she’ll be here in no time lol :)

    Cheers

    • I took a look at your trackbacks, Ingrid, and my educated guess is it’s because you are using Disqus comment system.

      I used to use it on my blog as well, but dropped it after a while; mostly because it’s a nofollow system and I wanted to keep my blog dofollow, but also because of the looks. :)

      Love seeing you here; are you kidding me?

      Ana

      • Ana,

        Thanks so much for taking the time to check that out for me. I absolutely want to be a DoFollow blog. I’m embarrassed to say that I actually thought it already was :(!

        As for Disqus – although I switched to it from IntenseDebate several months ago and I seemed to like it – I think I will be switching again very soon (I mean now) to CommentLuv. I think readers can also benefit from this much more and I love the engaging community.

        I think Patricia from Lavenderuses will also be happy to hear that lol :).

        Now all I need to do is not screw up and lose all my comments in the transfer process! Cause I lost a couple here and there when switching the second time.

        PS – Love the fact that you love seeing me here :). Cause you know I’ll be back!

        Cheers