Web Development

Are Pingback Services a Good Idea for Your Website?

For many beginner Webmasters, Pingbacks always just seems to be there. They don’t appear to be hurting anyone, but at the same time it doesn’t seem like they’re doing much to help your website. Nevertheless, pingbacks do serve a purpose and it’s up to you to decide whether or not they are something that you want associated with your website.

How Pingbacks Work

Pingbacks are the most popular type of linkback, or a method that gives Webmasters notifications when other websites are linking to one of their articles or pages. Below is an example of a Pingback, which will show up as a type of comment that will show up in the comment section of your blog:

WordPress actually supports automatic pingbacks where all of the links that are in an article can be pinged when the article is published. This happens if your make your blog visible to everyone as opposed to having a private blog. This is most likely the reason why, if you have a WordPress site, you might be getting Pingback notifications without even realizing what they are or why they matter. It’s up to you to disable the feature (more on this later). More advanced systems such as Joomla support pingbacks through extensions or plugins.

All you have to do to create a pingback comment is link to another WordPress blog post where pingbacks are enabled. The blog owner will then see a pingback in their comment section where they can approve or disapprove (more on this in the next section). WordPress explained the process like this:

  • 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 the pingback service will automatically go to Person B’s post to confirm that the pingback did, in fact, originate there.

Expanding on that, Pingbacks always check to make sure there is a hyperlink going from the site that mentioned your article and only then will you be alerted. In general, this cuts down on the amount of spam associated with the feature.

Is a trackback different?

You may have heard the term “trackback” in the past and considered it the same thing as a pingback. However a trackback is actually something that you manually send to a blogger. You can send a trackback to any site that offers a trackback URL in its post, which will usually be somewhere in the comment section that says “leave a trackback.” You can learn more about trackbacks here.

In fact, it’s probably also worth mentioning that there are two more types of linkbacks available, making the number four total. The other options are called Refbacks and Webmention.

The Benefits of Allowing Pingbacks on Your Website

While the majority of Webmasters like pingbacks, some find them annoying or unnecessary and either disapproving them every time one pops up in the comments or disabling them by going to the Discussion module on your Add New post page and unchecking “Allow trackbacks and pingbacks.”

The good aspects include the idea that if a Webmaster is alerted every time someone links back to their website, they can stay more organized and potentially connect with those linking back or get involved in the conversation. In an age where connections and linking is so important and hard to manage, pingbacks can help make it easy.

On the negative side, sometimes pingbacks can overtake your comment section and become overwhelming. Pingbacks have also been a target for many spammers. In March 2014, pingbacks were said to be targeting vulnerable WordPress websites and were the “in” to becoming a part of a DDoS attack, which you can learn more about here. The attack has been resolved since March, but many are still worried about the security and a possible attack in the future. If you have extra security pingbacks you should be completely safe, and pingbacks are technically less susceptible to spamming than other types of linkbacks, but it’s true that there are no guarantees.

Top Pingback Service Choices

As discussed above, WordPress does offer pingbacks automatically, but there are other services to choose from if you don’t have a WordPress site and want to include pingbacks. The two most popular are Pingler and Ping-O-Matic.

If you have any opinions about pingbacks or any personal experiences, let us know in the comment section below.

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