Trackbacks and Pingbacks

I’ve been looking at Trackbacks and Pingbacks lately to get a better handle on what they are and how to use them. There seem to be a number of explanations around defining the difference between them, but frankly for all practical purposes I can’t see that understanding the difference means much. So this post will use both terms interchangeably (apologies to the technical purists who may be reading).

OK that said, what are trackbacks and pingbacks about? And how do you use them?

In a earlier post I talked about injecting new life into your previous posts by referencing them, where appropriate, in your current posts and providing a link for readers to easily go to the reference source if they so choose. This gives greater depth to your current post and also creates more traffic for your older posts. Obviously you need to do this in a meaningful way, and not send your readers on an irrelevant wild goose chase.

So now I’m going to talk about linking to other people’s posts.

“Why would I want to send my readers to someone else’s blog?” you may ask. Well consider this:

  • If people know you are linking them into your posts they are more likely to come and read your blog.
  • It’s a good way to build relationships, and that’s what blogging is all about, isn’t it? I certainly value the blogging relationships that have grown over this year since I became more aware of this.
  • When you start cross-linking with other blogs it provides a richer reading experience for your readers.
  • It’s a blog courtesy to provide a link when you refer to another blog in your post.

My recent Scrapbook Challenge – scrapbook layout of you was an exercise with a couple of objectives. Firstly I thought it would be fun to bring together people from a number of different scrapbooking communities to meet each other and see each other’s work. But I also wanted to see how this trackback/pingback thing worked from a practical perspective.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. You need to have your trackback and pingback capability turned on in your blog set up. I didn’t get a ping (notification) when one of the challenge participants linked to my blog. When we investigated it turned out that her approval to accept and send trackbacks and pingbacks had inadvertently been unchecked. I have also noticed that a number of the folk who use Blogger have this setting turned off too. So they won’t have received a ping from me when this post got published.
  2. If you blog with WordPress and I believe also with Typepad you get notified automatically when someone links to your blog in their posts. This makes the whole process so much easier but it means you have to remember that for other blogging platforms they may not get automatic notification.
  3. If you are linking to someone who blogs with with Blogger or one of the private site hosted blog platforms it’s a lot trickier to ping them to notify them that you have linked to their blog in your post. It requires the poster to use a special Trackback URL in the relevant field when constructing the post (see below).
  4. If you have too many links in a ping/trackback the blog security forces are likely move in and toss it in the Spam dungeon. I discovered that with my previous post, Congratulations to all who took up the challenge.
  5. None of this applies to sidebar links. There are no pings/notifications for those links.

Using the Trackback URL (not required when linking to WordPress and Typepad blogs)

  • If the blog is set up to accept trackbacks there will be a Trackback URL (link) usually located at the bottom of the post you are trying to link to (provided the blog owner has this facility turned on).
  • You need to paste the normal post/blog location link into your text like always.
  • But then you need to click on the Trackback URL of the post you’re linking to, and copy it.
  • You then paste it into the special Trackback field (text box) in your own post template.
  • Finally you collapse in a chair with the beverage of your choice and wait until your stress levels have normalised.

You could, of course, skip all this and just send them an email letting them know you’ve linked to them but doing it this way will leave an automatic comment on their blog referring to your own post.

So my view is:

  • Cross-linking to other blogs is a good thing for both bloggers and readers.
  • Trackback/pingback notification is automatic for blogs on the WordPress or Typepad platforms but requires a bit of fiddling around to notify people on other blogging platforms (or you could just use email).
  • You should have your blog setting checked to accept trackbacks/pingbacks if you want to let people know you are writing about them in your posts or have them let you know they are writing about you.

What’s your opinion on all this? Or do you even care?

Other related posts:

Blogging 101
Link up your blog
Blog post titles – make them meaningful

blog profits blueprint

11 Responses to Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Hannah June 4, 2007 at 10:36 am #

    It is certainly all very interesting! Thanks for posting this.
    I have to say I don’t really think much about this sort of thing. Wherever possible I link to other people’s blogs in my posts, but beyond that I don’t worry much! :-)

  2. ~ AM ~ June 4, 2007 at 12:53 pm #

    Wow! Thanks for that Karen. I haven’t been able to figure all that stuff out before! :)

  3. Tink June 11, 2007 at 12:22 am #

    I’m still confused, but maybe it is just too early in the morning with lack of sleep that is doing it :)

  4. Kayla June 12, 2007 at 8:51 am #

    I am still learning on all this – your post was great in helping clarify why my blogger pings get lost in the shuffle – thanks for the info. :)

  5. Karooch June 12, 2007 at 9:39 pm #

    Well it was an interesting exercise.trying to work out how it all fits together. I must say that you would only go to the trouble of doing the trackback thing if you had a particular need to communicate with a blog owner that way. I guess we’re fairly spoilt on WordPress because it all happens automatically without us needing to do anything.

  6. Martha~aka~Krash June 14, 2007 at 12:43 pm #

    hmmm…I’m just now getting over here trying to catch up with all I missed:) as for the pings and things? Well I have to admit I’ve not thought much about that part either. lol~in fact whenever I’ve linked in my own blog to another post I’ve done I always was confused by the e-mail I received from WordPress about the “ping”! lol Thanks for the explaining though Karen! So I don’t have to check my settings? Seems the only notification I ever get is if I reference myself:D

  7. pit37 September 4, 2013 at 2:45 am #

    Hey there would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with?

    I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time
    deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.

    The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most
    blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Apologies for
    getting off-topic but I had to ask!|

    • karooch September 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

      Hi Alisha

      I use the WordPress platform which I think is the best as it is stable and gives you the most freedom of design. The Scraps of Mind site is designed by my daughter Seona who is a web designer. If you want to get in touch with her about designing a web site for you just let me know.

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