Blogging – How to use Trackbacks and Pingbacks Effectively?

Most of you have heard the terms trackbacks and pingbacks. They’re part of the blogging community. But, what exactly are they and how are they used?

Pingbacks and trackbacks have very similar functions, but they use different protocols. Their purpose is to make a referenced website aware that it’s been referenced to by another blog or website, and allow that site to link back. Both the pingback and trackback go to the referenced website’s pending comments, awaiting approval or rejection.

In an article from Traffic Generation, Ana Hoffman discussed these terms and noted that most bloggers use them incorrectly.

How to Use Trackbacks and Pingbacks

To use a pingback or trackback, you basically write a post and within that post you reference a post on another site, obviously one that is pertinent to your post’s topic. You then hyperlink that reference to the other site’s post. You can use keywords, or possibly the site’s title, or the post title to hyperlink. That’s it. 

The key here is to link directly to a permalink on the other site, in other words link to an article, not the homepage.

There are two examples of ‘possible’ pingbacks/trackbacks in action within this article. Both hyperlinks use the websites’ titles. For example I hyperlinked the words Traffic Generation, but I used the post’s URL as the link. So the link goes to the actual post – it doesn’t go to the site’s homepage. gives a helpful example also:

Assume you're Peter and just read a post on Mary's blog about her little lamb. Say that post has the URL

Peter now goes and writes a new story, linking to Mary's post. Something like:

I just read that Mary <a href="">has a little lamb</a>. Hope she posts some pictures soon!

You can see that Geeklog hyperlinked “has a little lamb.”

Differences between the two protocols Include:

1. With a pingback the referenced site typically only sees a link back to your site, whereas a trackback provides the link, a title, and possibly an excerpt.

2. You can only trackback one link within your post, with a pingback they are all potential pingbacks.

3. Pingbacks are completely automatic, which makes them much easier and quicker.

Which Protocol is Better to Use?

Since both protocols work to bring a linked site’s awareness to your reference, it’s a toss-up. If you want all the links ‘working’ then go with pingbacks. If you’d rather use one specific link with more information the trackback is the way to go.

Another aspect to take into account is the pingback automation. If you don’t want to add more work to your already overbooked marketing efforts, pingbacks is your tool.

Other Noteworthy tidbits:

1. Pingbacks are a function used primarily with WordPress. Blogger does not provide this service, at least not to my knowledge.
2. Hyperlinking doesn’t cause pingbacks on its own. Your website needs to have pingback capability with pingbacks enabled and the site you’re referencing to needs to have the same.
3. A number of sites have mentioned that most pingbacks are spam and shouldn’t be accepted, so be sure to check them.

Hopefully, this article gives you a better understanding of these tools and how to use them as part of your online marketing strategy.


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