Trackbacks & Pingbacks: Are They Still Useful?
One of the first things I always did when I set up a new blog was install a mile-long list of sites I wanted to ping. Next, I enabled trackbacks. But with all the recent changes in the Google algorithms, these two steps may now be harmful to your blog. Let’s take a look at how you should be handling pingbacks and trackbacks now.
The New, Shorter Pinging List
Every time you hit the publish button on your WordPress blog it automatically sends a “Ping” to let the search engines know you’ve added new content so they’ll send out their bots and add it to their index.
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In the past, it was important to notify as many search engines as possible. Bloggers started by pinging a service called
Pingomatic.com, which would, in turn, send a ping to dozens of other search engines and networks. But to cover all the bases, bloggers also started adding other pinging sites and other search engines to the list, eventually sending out multiple pings to hundreds of sites for placement on every search engine imaginable.
However, if you remember back to when we talked about XML sitemaps, all of this pinging is no longer necessary. Most of the search engines, especially Google, have refined their crawlers to the point where they automatically detect new content. Unless you’re doing something to block those bots, either intentionally or unintentionally, they’re going to find your new blog post, and in most cases they’ll do so very quickly.
Now if you’re sending all those pings you just look like a spammer. Especially when you consider the fact that your blog automatically pings every single time you hit “publish” – even after each edit. These days, if you want positive attention from Google, you need to stop all that pinging.
Go to your WP dashboard right now and go to Settings ? Writing, and scroll to the bottom of the page. Where it says “Update Services” paste only these three pinging services:
http://rpc.pingomatic.com http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2 http://ping.myblog.jp
And to stop multiple pings associated with edits, install the WordPress Ping Optimizer Plug-in.
Follow Those Trackbacks
A trackback is a notification you receive through your WP dashboard that lets you know another blog or website has linked to your content. Many bloggers choose to enable trackbacks and allow them to be automatically published beneath the comments on their blog as kind of a badge of honor. It’s like waving a flag that says, “Hey! Look who’s linking to my blog!”
Personally, I find this public display a little distracting and annoying and now those visible trackbacks may actually hurt your blog. Every link on your blog need to lead to valuable, relevant content or you risk the wrath of Google, and not all of those trackbacks are coming from valuable, relevant blogs.
That said, trackbacks are still valuable. If they’re coming from an authoritative, reliable source then you may still want to display them. But they have one other important use.
Follow those trackbacks back to their source to see who’s linking to you and why. If possible, leave a nice comment on that specific blog post, thanking the blogger for linking out to you and adding something of value to the conversation. Now, you’ve taken the first step at building a relationship with another blogger.
While you’re there, look to see why that blogger linked out to you – in what context. You can use this information for content ideas for your own blog. You can also use it to give you an idea for a great guest blog post and since that blogger has already linked out to you, chances are he’ll welcome your contribution to his blog.