WordPress Trackback Tutorial

When used properly, trackbacks and pingbacks are an excellent way to build links and traffic to your blog, as well as building relationships with other bloggers.

What Is Trackback?

In layman’s terms, trackback is a way to notify a website when you publish an entry that references it.

When you send it a trackback, a link with a short excerpt of your entry will appear on the referenced website.

How To Locate The Trackback Link

When you want to trackback, you will need to use a special link provided on the blog you want to reference.

Most trackback links appear just after the blog post content and before the comments.

Sometimes the link will appear as a plain text link:

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.typepad.com/t/tackback/3895728

Other times it will be a hyperlink: or trackback from your own site

If the trackback URL is hyperlinked, you’ll need to right click on it and select “Copy link location…” (or your browser’s equivalent), otherwise, you can highlight and copy the link.

If you plan to reference more than one blog entry, each trackback URL will need to be copied individually.

(Please note: Not all blogs display their trackback URL in plain view, some blogs even turn off their trackback. When in doubt, contact the blog author.)

Sending A Trackback

Before you publish your blog entry, you’ll need to tell WordPress to send your trackback notices.

Paste the trackback URLs into the box next to “Send Trackbacks To.”

In WordPress 1.5, the box appears in the Advanced section below the post content box. Note: you’ll need to be in Advanced Editing mode to see the Advanced options box.

In WordPress 2.0, it’s just below the Upload box. If the Trackback box itself isn’t revealed, click on the ‘+’ sign.

Once you’ve added all the URLs you want to trackback, the moment you hit the Publish button, the blog(s) will be notified.

WordPress’ Built In Ping Feature

WordPress takes trackback to a new level by allowing pingbacks.

Pingbacks allow you to notify a weblog of your entry just by posting its permalink directly in the content of your blog entry. No special trackback link necessary.

To enable pinging URLs in the blog entry, make sure there is a check mark next to “Attempt to notify any Weblogs linked to from the article (slows down posting.)” in the “Options->Discussion” section of the WordPress admin panel.

Checking Whether A Website Supports Pingbacks

You can generally assume that most WordPress blogs will support the pingback feature, however, it can be disabled or moderated based by the blog owner.

If you want to be certain pingbacks are supported, you need only look in the HTML coding for a line similar to:
<link rel="pingback" href="..." />

If the site has pings enabled, a link with a brief sampling of the text around it will appear on their blog.

Checking If Your Trackback or Pingback Was Successful

Successful trackbacks and pingbacks usually appear within moments of publishing your blog entry, but remember that trackbacks and pingbacks can be moderated or disabled by the blog owners.

You can also verify that the trackback and pingback were sent successfully by clicking on Edit next to the blog entry you published and scrolling down below the Custom Fields. WordPress will display all the URLs that were notified about your blog entry.

Sometimes a blog may be having technical difficulties with the trackback or pingback system. If you believe that is the case, you can politely send the blog owner a message outlining the potential problem, being sure to include all necessary and relevant information for them to troubleshoot.

Using Trackback and Pingback Wisely

When sending a trackback, be mindful of sending a pingback. If the site you’re linking to has pingbacks enabled, be sure not to trackback. You may end up inadvertently posting two links to their site and this may annoy some webmasters, or may even be construed as attempted spamming.

Avoid sending a trackback unless you actually reference or link to the site you’re sending the trackback to, otherwise, it can be considered spam.

If your trackback or pingback doesn’t show up on the website, don’t try to force it by continually using trackback or pingback. Instead, head over to the actual blog entry and leave a note with a link to your blog entry manually. If the blog owner thinks it’s relevant enough, he will approve it.

Allowing Trackbacks/Pingbacks on Your Blog

WordPress allows you to set your default ping status in the Options menu. If you know that the majority of your posts will have trackback/pingback enabled, setting it to accept them could make your blogging life a little easier.

From your admin panel, click on Options->Discussion and place a check mark next to “Allow link notifications from other Weblogs (pingbacks and trackbacks.)” and remember to click on Update Options when you’re finished.

Post by Post basis

You can also handle your trackbacks/pingbacks on a per post basis — this will also override the setting in your options panel. From the Write->Post screen, make sure there is a check next to “Allow Pings” in the Discussion box.

If there is no check mark in that box, then the post will not accept trackbacks or pingbacks.

Final Note

You are welcome to use this blog entry to test your trackback/pingback functionality, however, please do not spam it. Your trackback/pingback will not show up right away and may not show up at all if you didn’t actually link to this post or the URL on your blog returns a 404 error (yes, I check). However, whenever possible, I will pass by your blog and personally tell you whether the ping was successful if it isn’t approved here.

19 thoughts on “WordPress Trackback Tutorial

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