Defined: Pings, Trackbacks, Pingbacks & Backlinks

Sometimes blogging lingo can be a little confusing. 

Take all those “link” related words, for example: trackback, pingback, backlink… do you understand the difference?

More importantly, do you know how to…

  • automatically tell search engines and others that there’s new content on your blog?
  • protect your blog from being penalized in the search engines by trackbacks & pingbacks?
  • tell what’s “spam” and what’s legit?
  • install the right plugins to help make your job easier?
  • leverage the links you’re getting to build relationships?
  • use trackbacks or pingbacks to get more traffic to your own blog?

After you read this post, you will!  So stick around and keep reading.

Let’s start with some basic definitions

What are Pings?

A ping is when your blog automatically sends  out a little message that there’s new content published.  You can ping any site that accepts ping notifications.  By default, WordPress blogs are already set to ping Ping-o-Matic.

What do you need to know about Pings?

It’s worth enabling them on your blog.  Why not let your blog automatically help promote your new content?  If you’re not on WordPress, check into how your blog works for pings.  You can use a service like FeedBurner’s PingShot.

You can learn more about pings here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Update_Services

What are Trackbacks?

TrackBack was designed to provide a method of notification between websites: it is a method of person A saying to person B, “This is something you may be interested in.” To do that, person A sends a TrackBack ping to person B.
— Definition quoted from http://codex.wordpress.org/Introduction_to_Blogging#Trackbacks

What do you need to know about Trackbacks?

They work like this: You write an awesome blog post.  I decide that not only do I like it, but that I’ve got more to say that will fit in your comments so I write a whole blog post about it and I link back your original post.  Your blog gets a notification that I linked to you and it includes the title of my post, it’s URL, and an excerpt of what I said.  You can then edit the excerpt if you want (just like a comment) and approve it.  Or you can ignore it and delete it.

You also need to know that trackbacks can be faked.  Don’t approve them unless you’ve clicked through to the website and it’s a real and appropriate link back to your website.

What are Pingbacks?

Pingbacks are pretty much like trackbacks.  You write a post, I like it and linked to it, your blog gets notified… and it shows up like a comment.

What do you need to know about Pingbacks?

The important difference is that a pingback is *verified* by the linked blog.  When your blog gets that notice from mine, yours checks the URL to see if I really linked to you.  Pingbacks don’t include any content (no excerpt), just the link and title.

More information about Pingbacks: http://codex.wordpress.org/Introduction_to_Blogging#Pingbacks

So Why Two Terms (Trackback and Pingback)?

They’re basically the same thing.  Many bloggers use them interchangeably because they’re hard to tell apart!  The biggest difference is actually that each one uses a different type of technology in the way it sends notification to communicate.

Here are some examples:

What are Backlinks?

A backlink is a link from somewhere else (any other website) back to your website.

What do you need to know about Backlinks?

They’re awesome and you want lots of them from legitimate websites.  They’ll help you get more traffic, rank better in the search engines, and build your credibility and reputation.  They’ll also help you with rankings like PageRank, Alexa, Technorati, etc.

Many backlinks will show up on your blog as trackbacks or pingbacks, since both of those are types of backlinks.

There are some cool tools you can use to see who’s linking to you.

What’s Your Next Step?

Most of this is just helpful information to be familiar with, because it’s easier to blog when you understand the blogging lingo.  But here are some solid actions you can take to use this information:

Protect Yourself

You won’t get in trouble with the search engines if a few spammy sites link you — you can’t control that.  But you can hurt yourself if you link back to them.  So don’t approve those trackbacks if the site that linked to you is spammy, no matter how much you want a link in your comments.  Also know that you want to check those links because today it might be a legit site but a year from now it may be owned by a spammer.

Use these tools:

Acknowledge Legit Links to You & Build Relationships

When someone posts about you or your blog, it’s a great opportunity to stop by their blog and say thank you.  You might also want to share that post on your social media profiles and help drive traffic to the blogger — they’ll appreciate it.

Drive Traffic to Your Site

By linking to other bloggers in your own posts, you can get trackbacks listed on other websites which can help drive traffic back to your own website.

Bonus Tip: If you enjoy tweaking your theme coding and are somewhat familiar with php, you can use the code here to add a filter so you can see your pings in your comments easily.

Thanks to Lisa from Davinci Dilemma for suggesting this blog post topic on my Facebook fan page.

Photo Credit: Ancroft/Stockfresh

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23 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this post. I’ve always wondered what the differences were btn. trackbacks and pingbacks. Thank you! I so appreciate these type of articles because I’m not a techie with my blog stuff. I just write, do tags, share on social media, etc. Thanks for giving me some food for thought!
    Lisa recently posted… My Top 5 Methods of Self-CareMy Profile

    1. Yeah, I think it’s a popular question. The good news is though that it’s something our blogs do automatically for us. :) One less thing for our lists!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Defined: Pings, Trackbacks, Pingbacks & BacklinksMy Profile

  2. Nicely done. I’m a little new to some of the geeky stuff on WordPress and this is one of those things I always wondered about.

    There are lists out there for other sites you can add to your dashboard settings (for pinging)…do you have a list you’d share?
    Tea Silvestre recently posted… Must-Have Kitchen Tool: The (Sales) FunnelMy Profile

    1. Hi Tea, http://pingomatic.com/ is the default one in WordPress because it pings the other major ones. There’s also http://pingoat.com/ and http://pingler.com/ but I haven’t used those personally.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Brand Your Blog’s CommentersMy Profile

  3. Hi Michelle,
    Trackbacks and pingbacks seem like an advanced blogger thing – unless you network with a lot of “in the know” bloggers I suspect your not going to get them much. Also to save the hastle of approving track backs and setting up yet more plugins do you think it is just worth disabling trackbacks?
    Danny recently posted… Passionate Blogger: David Cain From RaptitudeMy Profile

    1. I’ve left my trackbacks turned on because I like to know when they happen and someone links to me. :) But if you’re using something else to monitor your brand/website/etc like Google Alerts, it would probably find those mentions of you for you.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… The #1 Way to Keep Hackers Out of Your BlogMy Profile

  4. Hi Michelle,
    Your post came at the perfect time for me as I am a beginning blogger and I see those trackback and ping comments and never knew what they were! And you explained it in language that I can understand, so I thank you for some great information!
    ~Suerae
    Suerae Stein recently posted… LostNMissing Inc.My Profile

    1. You’re welcome, Suerae. Thanks for commenting. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Weekend Inspiration: Listen & RelaxMy Profile

  5. Hi Michelle!

    Thanks for inviting me back to your Blog…from The Blogging
    Mastermind Comment Tribe’s page. :)

    Another excellent article & I have 1 question for you. Every time
    I write new content, I always include a link to another article
    within my Blog.

    So, after I publish the NEW content, I usually receive a ‘pingback’
    in my comments. Does it matter if I delete those or should I approve
    them every time??

    Have a highly inspired day…your tribal friend Steven Suchar
    Steven Suchar recently posted… Approach Social Media As 1 Giant Conversation!!My Profile

    1. Hey Steven, as far as I’m aware it wouldn’t hurt anything to delete them, unless you hit spam and you’re using a service like Akismet or something that watches and might think your URL is spammy. As long as that’s not the situation it should be just fine. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Brand Your Blog’s CommentersMy Profile

  6. I am very new to internet marketing and have recently had some confusion regarding several issues but one being trackbacks. After reading you post I am much more informed. I have been reading many of you posts and have found them to be a very valuable source of information. Thank you so much for the service that you provide.
    Best regards.
    Jeremiah
    jeremiah johnson recently posted… Samsonite Xspace SpinnerMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Jeremiah. I appreciate that and am glad you’ve found the posts helpful. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Peek Into an Internet Marketer’s Little Black BookMy Profile

  7. Thanks for this, its useful, I think that one thing that has confused me for so long is the use of the word “ping” by people who dont understand it:

    Ping a network, ping an email, ping a blog – confusing!
    danika recently posted… Is your phone been spied on?My Profile

    1. Yep. It’s kind of a catch all term anymore. Doesn’t help with the confusion when people use it in that many different contexts.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How to Link Your Facebook Fan Page to Your Twitter ProfileMy Profile

  8. Most of my pingbacks come from my article writing with the Unique Article Wizard. Although legit sites with my article on there….I just haven’t felt it necessary to approve it.

    1. It’s nice that we can easily pick and choose. I’m likely to approve mine if they’re legit, but once in a while I’ll skip it. Just depends on the site.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Peek Into an Internet Marketer’s Little Black BookMy Profile

  9. As a new blogger this proved very helpful. So far my pingbacks appear spammy, but hopefully some good ones start coming through. Thanks again for the article

    1. You’re welcome, Eric. And yes, I get lots of those spammy ones, too. *delete* *delete* :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… What Do Squidoo, EZOG, and More Twitter Followers Have in Common?My Profile

  10. So, If I confirm the pingbacks my website’s value on search engines will reduce, right?

    1. It depends, but not necessarily. Just avoid approving the spammy ones and you should be fine. :)

  11. It was good to understand the blogging lingo from your article. I was confused recently, as I was receiving a lot of ping backs from another reputable high authority site. I had left a comment with my website on that site. The article above explains most of the thing clearly. May be I should comment more often on high authority sites. Thank you for the article. Cheers, Ramkumar

  12. That was really helpful. Thanks. I’ve had a lot of spammy trackbacks and pingbacks but a recent legitimate trackback got me wondering.
    Swapnil recently posted… 7 Best No Crop Apps for Instagram & Whatsapp (Android and iOS Users)My Profile

  13. Very nicely explained Trackback links thanks for sharing.

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