Ping! Pingbacks: What They Are & What They Do

shutterstock_91967603It's possible you may occasionally get what looks like a comment on your site, but is structured like this:

[…] 95 Places to Submit and Promote your blog for Traffic and SEO […]

[…] can number into the dozens, and include all types of professionals – from photographers to attorneys to copywriters. Bloggers of that size may even hire people to do the hiring for them! However, […]

[…] To all my fellow bloggers, here are some really helpful tips to up your Facebook engagement. It’s a good one, scope […]

You may know that they appear like regular comments, but that they aren't just comments.  Sometimes they're from your own site, and other times they're incoming from another site.  So what are they?

These are pingbacks.  In short, they're a notification system that lets you know your content has been linked to by another site or in another post.

These are pingbacks (sometimes also called “trackbacks”).  In short, they're a notification system that lets you know your content has been linked to by another site or in another post.   This means someone shared your conent, and that system is letting you know it happened.

So… Are Pingbacks Good?

The WordPress Codex has a great description of pingbacks:

The best way to think about pingbacks is as remote comments:

  • Person A posts something on his blog.
  • Person B posts on her own blog, linking to Person A's post. This automatically sends a pingback to Person A when both have pingback enabled blogs.
  • Person A's blog receives the pingback, then automatically goes to Person B's post to confirm that the pingback did, in fact, originate there.

As a “comment” notification system, you can enable or disable pingbacks (just like you would comments).  Like comments, pingbacks have their pros and cons – they're neither “good” or “bad.”

So… should I keep them enabled?

Once upon a time, pingbacks were a useful way to remind those search engines “this content is still timely and valuable.  People are still using it.” Once spammers figured out how to insert their own links into pingbacks to manipulate SEO rankings, the search engines stopped paying attention to them.

Some blogging resources argue “They're not pretty to look at, and they don't help with SEO. Don't use them.”  On the other hand, since they show up in your comments section, it can be a great way for your audience to find responses and reactions to your posts.  With the rise of content-scrapers, they can also be a useful way of figuring out WHO is stealing your content (we find a lot of IFB scrapers that way)!

Ultimately, whether you keep them enabled is entirely up to you.  You can keep them enabled so you see who is linking to you, and delete the pingback “comments.”  You can have them show up on posts (because they don't actually HURT anything), or you can just disable them entirely.  It's entirely up to you and how much maintenance you want to do on your site.

Do you pay attention to your pingbacks at all? Is this an area of blog maintenance you shy away from…. how do you manage them, if at all?

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6 Responses

  1. Style Context

    I’ve had to disable pingbacks because spammers kept linking to me. I would advise manually approving pingbacks, which is what I do now. you don’t want spammers linking to your site, it’s bad for SEO.

  2. Monika Faulkner

    I’m a newbie blogger, so a lot of these terms are still unknown to me…thank you for this great explanation!! I have no idea if I have ping-backs enabled for my site, so this is definitely something I will be investigating!!

  3. Eva Tornado

    Well, this is not full info. Sometimes spam bots send “look-like-pingback” comments forcing you to visit their sources. And when you visit them, then you found that there is no link to your blog, but you (and thousands people like you) create traffic for them.

    Now I have more than 130 000 visits per month and very strong spam filters. But I had time when I received hundreds “look-like-pingback” comments per day and I was crazy about removing them!

  4. Ann Mailsi

    Thank you, I’ve been wondering what was up with these things. So that’s what these things are! I used to get a lot of these fake ping backs and removing them was a pain. Now have better filters. I wouldn’t want to disable the feature, though.

  5. CynthiaCM

    Because I use Disqus, my pingbacks actually don’t show. I’m considering disabling since it looks like I have a comment when I don’t!

  6. Amanda

    I’m not going to lie, ping backs are confusing. Do they stay or do they go? I’m just not sure anymore.