One of my blogging friends Donna asked last week if I would talk about pingbacks and trackbacks. I’m always happy to receive post ideas from you guys, so of course!
Pingbacks and trackbacks are pretty much used interchangeably these days. Think of them as a little way for blogs to communicate with each other. WordPress has this feature built in, so we may notice these more than those bloggers on other platforms. If I link to a post on your WP blog from my WP blog, a little message (or ping) is sent to you letting you know I may be talking about you. That pingback will likely show up under your comments, and you have the option to approve or trash it just like any other comment.
Like so many things in our blogging world, pingbacks started out as a fabulous networking tool…and turned into something that less savory bloggers started abusing. These can be a great way to solicit traffic.
Here’s an example of how it ideally would work:
- You are talking about a hot topic in your blog post.
- I have my own spin, so I piggyback on that for my own readers while linking up to you.
- You receive and approve that pingback.
- There is now a little link back to my blog post in your comments.
- Your readers may hop over to see what I have to say on the topic.
- I’ve just introduced myself to your readers.
Sounds like a great idea, right? It sure does to a lot of sploggers. They want to get in on your traffic.
I don’t approve a pingback without checking it out first. The majority of the time, they are coming from a splog (spam blog). They may have an automated “related posts” tool installed on their blogs that gathers up links from around the web. Your post topics may not be related in any way.
I also receive them when someone tweets my posts. I don’t feel it is necessary to provide you with “social proof” that I am a cool blogger. You are either going to find a post useful, or you are not. I am not going to try to convince you otherwise by showing that Jane, Susie, Mary and Kelly all thought this was a great post and shared it with their friends, so you probably should too. (C’mon! Cave into that peer pressure. Everyone is doing it.)
Another thing about the “tweetbacks” as I call them, from the reader standpoint it is rather messy. If you are talking about a controversial or confusing topic, I am going to read through your comments to see what your readers had to say. Maybe I have a question that I want to see if another reader already asked and you answered. Rather than your comments being easy to follow, I now see this:
- “Great post!”
- Jill tweeted this.
- Mary tweeted this.
- Bill tweeted this.
- “Can you elaborate on x further, it doesn’t work that way for me?”
- Sue tweeted this.
- Jim tweeted this.
- Molly tweeted this.
- “I totally disagree with your analysis. This is what I find…”
- Trisha tweeted this.
- So on and so forth.
We are all running on limited time around here. I’ve just wasted a lot of it by being forced to read who is retweeting your post. Imagine how much time it would have saved me if I could have had those three relevant comments handed up in one easy-to-read stream. No junk! Chances are pretty good that I left before I had my question answered or could leave my own comment.
You are free to do as you like on your own blog. This is how I run things. If it is a extension of our conversation here, I’ll approve it. If it is junk, I won’t. You guys are telling me on a fairly regular basis that you are strapped for time. I want you to have the best experience you can in the limited amount of time you have here. I also don’t care to promote a splog. You may not only be sending your readers to their less than informative blog, you may also be linking to a blog the search engines have categorized negatively. Check them out before you approve. They aren’t just linking to you if you approve them, you are now linking to them. You can’t control incoming links, the search engines accept that. However, you can control what sites you are linking to.