One of the best ways to deliver more value to your readers is by linking out to high-authority resources from your articles. It allows you to direct your readers to quality blog posts that cover topics that are out of your article’s scope in more detail. What you might not know is that whenever you link other blog posts, WordPress automatically sends them pingbacks.
Pingbacks notify the original blog post’s author that you’ve linked to their post from your website. In this post, we’ll explore pingbacks in detail by explaining what they are and listing the advantages and disadvantages of using them. We’ll also show you how you can manage pingbacks on your WordPress website by offering step by step instructions.
Sound good? Let’s get started!
What Are Pingbacks in WordPress?
Pingbacks are simply special comments that are created when you link to another blog post that has pingbacks enabled. Pingbacks allow you to notify the author (in the form of a pingback) of the blog post you’re linking to that you’ve linked to their article.
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For example, say you wrote an article on your own blog about pingbacks and linked back to this piece. A pingback would be created on your end and sent to me. I would be notified that you linked to my post from your blog and I could display this information on this website. Of course, this scenario assumes that both of us have pingback-enabled blogs.
When you get a pingback, your comments section will be populated with an excerpt from the blog post where the pingback was originally created. Most WordPress themes (including the default themes) don’t display these pingback excerpts. However, if your theme supports them, they’ll appear as comments on the front-end.
Pingbacks are often confused with trackbacks. According to the WordPress Codex,
Trackback helps you to notify another author that you wrote something related to what he had written on his blog, even if you don’t have an explicit link to his article.
Pingbacks and trackbacks are similar in many respects. They’re both methods of notifying authors that you’ve linked to their blog post and they both send special comments, including an excerpt from your blog post. However, there is one sharp difference between the two: their underlying communication technologies.
Pingbacks are sent over XML-RPC, whereas trackbacks are sent via HTTP POST. This fundamental difference makes trackbacks victim to spam comments. Since pingbacks are automatically verified, they have a higher chance of being authentic, thus creating a verifiable link between two blog posts.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Pingbacks?
Now that you have a better understanding of what pingbacks are, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons they offer.
Advantages of Pingbacks
- Increase traffic. Pingbacks appear as comments on the blog post you’ve linked to and work as backlinks to your website. This means that whenever a reader browses the comments section on the original post, they’ll see a link to your blog post that can potentially increase the chances of them visiting your website.
- Build connections. Pingbacks work by notifying blog post authors that you’ve linked to their article from yours. It’s a great way to build connections with other authors and readers in your niche.
- Good for SEO. When implemented correctly (i.e. without a
no-followlink and without the intent of spamming) pingbacks can help with SEO by getting more backlinks to your website.
Disadvantages of Pingbacks
As is the case with most things related to SEO, spammers have found a way to leverage pingbacks to their advantage. Here’s how it can disadvantageous to you:
- Lots of spam. Since it’s incredibly easy for spammers to send pings, you could end up with a ton of spam in your comments section.
- Manual moderation. Lots of spam means a lot of pingbacks to moderate. Manually moderating pingbacks to separate the good ones from the spam takes time.
- Limited usage. Because spammers have, in a way, taken over pingbacks, most blog owners have disabled them entirely on their websites. This means that you can’t leverage pingbacks since they require both blogs to have them enabled.
How Do I Manage Pingbacks in WordPress?
Managing pingbacks in WordPress is fairly simple. In this section, we’ll show you how to enable, moderate, and disable pingbacks on your website.
To enable pingbacks in WordPress, login to your WordPress website’s admin panel (here’s an in-depth primer on how to use the dashboard) and navigate to Settings > Discussion. Check the box for the option Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles in the Default article settings section of the Discussion Settings screen.
Alternatively, if you’d like to enable pingbacks on selected posts only then you can follow these steps instead:
Start off by navigating to Posts > All Posts from your WordPress admin panel. Hover over the post you’d like to enable pingbacks on and click the Quick Edit link.
Check the box in front of the Allow Pings option and click the Update button to save changes.
When you receive a pingback on a blog post, you have the option to moderate it. If you’ve ever gotten a pingback then you probably already know that you get a notification that reads something like this: A new pingback on the post Blog Post Title is awaiting your approval. and you’re given the option to approve it, delete it, or mark it as spam.
Even with the degree of authenticity pingbacks offer, most of them will still be spam. This is mainly because it’s really easy for spammers to link to a blog post on your site from theirs and get a backlink. In some cases, sites that steal content end up sending pingbacks unintentionally because of internal linking within the stolen post.
That said, you can always enable pingbacks on your WordPress website following the steps outlined in the previous section and moderate them manually. However, if after testing them out you find that most of the pings are from spammers, then you can simply disable them throughout your website.
To disable pingbacks as a whole on your WordPress website, login to your WordPress website’s admin panel and navigate to Settings > Discussion. Uncheck the box for the option Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles in the Default article settings section of the Discussion Settings screen.
This option allows you to disable pingbacks on all future posts that you publish on your WordPress website. Here’s how you can disable pingbacks on all existing posts.
Login to your WordPress admin panel and head over to Posts > All Posts and find out how many posts you have published on your site. Click on the Screen Options button in the top-right corner of the Posts screen and enter that number (or a higher number) in the Number of items per page box. Click the Apply button to save changes and update the screen.
Now, select all of the posts at once by checking the box preceding the Title label. Click on the Bulk Actions drop-down menu, select the Edit options, and click the Apply button to continue.
You’ll see a Bulk Edit screen that looks something like this:
Using the drop-down menu for the Pings option, select Do not allow and click the Update button to save changes.
Once you’ve done that, pingbacks for all existing posts will be disabled throughout your WordPress website. If you’d like to disable pingbacks on selected posts only, then follow the same steps outlined above but only select the posts you’d like to disable pingbacks on.
When implemented correctly, pingbacks are a great way to build connections with other blog authors and readers within your niche by starting discussions on relevant topics. They also make it easier for you to communicate with blogs that don’t allow comments or have a
no-follow attribute on all backlinks.
And if you choose not to abuse pingbacks and only use them for delivering more value to your readers, you at least have a shot at connecting with the author. For these reasons, we encourage you to try them out on your own and see if they work for you.
Do you have any questions about managing pingbacks in WordPress? Let us know by commenting below!