Are Trackbaks and Pingbacks Still Useful?

By Daniel Scocco

questions and answersThis post is part of the Friday Q&A section. If you want to ask a question just send it via the contact form.

Michelle asks:

Should I approve trackbacks and pingbacks? Do allowing trackbacks and pingbacks help SEO or add value to my blog/website?

Trackbacks and pingbacks were very popular some years ago, but lately fewer and fewer blogs are using them, so I suspect some of our readers don’t even know what those terms mean. They are pretty much interchangeable, and refer to a network ping that your blogging platform (e.g., WordPress or Blogger) will send to other blogs whenever you link to them. Once the other blog receives the ping it will create a link to your post on the comment section (or on a special “Trackbaks” section).

The purpose of having trackbacks and pingbacks is to foster conversations among bloggers. By inter-linking the posts that are referencing each other it becomes easier to follow the different opinions and takes on specific issues.

Initially it worked fine, and I had listed trackbacks on this blog for a long time. A couple of years ago, however, content scrapers and spammers discovered that trackbacks could be used to build backlinks. That is, they would write a post linking to hundreds of other posts around the blogosphere, and would receive a backlink from the trackback generated on each of those blogs (most links were nofollowed, but this didn’t seem to act as a deterrent).

The result was a lot of spam coming via trackbacks, and moderating it became a pain. That is why I decided to remove them from all my blogs, and most people did the same. You can still find some sites with trackbaks (sometimes called “Who’s linking here”), but they are definitely the minority.

Answering the original question now: I think having trackbacks and pingbacks does add value to your visitors, but most of that value is lost if most of your trackbacks are coming from spam and scraper sites. Given that this is probably what’s going to happen today, I would simply turn them off.



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19 Responses to “Are Trackbaks and Pingbacks Still Useful?”

  • Garious

    Well, I guess spammers did it again! They always to “twist” some good-intended functionality to fit their own sick needs! But the good news is: anti-spamming tools are created everyday and blogs are no exception in that regard.
    We still use trackbacks for garious blog and will try out the “Topsy Blocker” plugin that James recommended. Thanks James :).

  • Eunus Hosen

    I turned on this feature and I don’t receive too many trackbacks as my blog is not so popular.

  • Keith Davis

    Looks as though I will be turning them off then.

    Shame that the spammers spoil it for everyone.

  • Thewebcitizen

    It depends on your life cycle of your blog, for those who are new in the game, trackbacks do add some value but for those who have an existing and well known brand, trackbacks are not much of a value added practice.

    Elias

  • CypherHackz

    I still prefer to have Trackbacks enabled on my blogs. Btw bro, you misspell the title here, trackbak.

  • Web Marketing Tips

    if you are doing link building than pingbacks those links still useful.

    • Rison Simon

      Hi, please stop spamming the comment section with your links. You are not Daniel to answer all comments. Thank you.

  • Ari

    I am still using it. It is still a good backlink I think and I don’t have so many blog so I can check the spam trackback.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      If you are getting quality trackbacks than I am sure you are adding quality and useful posts.

  • Michelle Minch, Moving Mountains Design

    Thanks for answering my question :o) Almost every trackback I get is spammy so I’ll turn them off.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      yes many blogs run on auto so its quite obvious those trackbacks look spammy.

  • DailyPhotographyTips

    I never used this feature. I always find it suspicious.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      through this you can understand who is talking about yoir posts and your blog.

  • David

    So what you’re really saying is that if a system could be devised to only provide proper trackbacks (rather than spam) they would be great but at the moment the platforms aren’t good enough to make it work.

    I wonder if a system could be devised so that the number of tackbacks from a given post is counted and if it exceeds a certain number (maybe dependent on the word count) the trackback is blocked.

  • slimhunter

    By using Akismet you should solve all of your problems in terms of spam…looks like it’s working fine on many WordPress blogs; mine doesn’t count because it’s not popular, but I see many other, very well-known blogs that don’t have a line of spam in the comments section…

  • Anastasia

    Trackbacks are ugly. I turn them off too.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      what about pingbacks ?

  • James

    Oddly enough I still use them and I run on wordpress. I was receiving mass amounts of spam via trackbacks but I simply downloaded a plugin titled “Simple Trackback Validation with Topsy Blocker” and I haven’t had an issue since. However since very few actually use the trackbacks anymore I don’t receive many at all in return. Its just a matter of allowing those who do use them to kindly send links back and forth.

  • Angie

    Thanks for answering this. I was wondering the same thing myself last week. I have never approved them as it is rather obvious what the linkup is for, especially when the other blog’s post has nothing to do with what they are linking to from my site.

    I have also seen some blogs that allow pingbacks to show up in the comments, and from the “visitor perspective” is not very attractive.

Comments are closed.