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What are WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks?

Published: August 2014

If you have recently launched a new website using WordPress, you may have received emails notifying you of trackbacks and/or pingbacks on your site. If so, you might have the following questions running through your head:

What is a trackback/pingback?
Are they a good thing?
Should I approve it? If so, should it be a nofollow approval?
What is a nofollow approval?

If the above questions seem familiar, fear not; you’re not alone. Trackbacks and pingbacks possibly cause more questions from our clients after a site launch than any other area. Below is a guide to what trackbacks and pingbacks are.

What is a trackback?

Trackbacks are a WordPress-generated tool which give bloggers/website administrators the ability to communicate and link between websites. Its almost like one person saying to another, “Check out this link, I think you’ll like it!”. So, for example:

– We write a new blog post for our website.
– You want to comment on our post, but you want visitors to your own site to see what you have to say and able to comment on it.
– You will then write a new blog post on your website and send a trackback to our post.
– We will receive your trackback, and choose to display it as a comment or not. The comment display will be a title, excerpt and a link to your blog post.

So, if you receive an email asking you to approve a trackback, it basically means you have the option of displaying the other person’s trackback as a comment or not. If you choose to display it as a ‘nofollow’, this means that the link will be displayed on your site but Google and other search engines will be advised to ignore it (whether they do or not is up to them).

What is a pingback?

Pingbacks give blogging softwares the ability communicate between websites. So:

– We write a post on our site.
– You write a post on your site mentioning/linking to our article.
– Your blogging software (if you have any) will automatically send us a pingback.
– Then we will have the ability to display your pingback as our comment. This will solely be a link to your site.

In our experience, 99% of pingbacks are spam. Spam robots find the comments section of your site and send you a pingback in the hope of you approving their link to appear on your site, which is good from a search engine optimisation point of view.

Disabling trackbacks and pingbacks

There is an option for you to disable trackbacks and pingbacks entirely. First, go to Settings » Discussion. Uncheck “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)” See below:

Disabling trackbacks and pingbacks

Disabling trackbacks and pingbacks

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