What are WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks and are they still relevant in 2015?
Becoming familiar with a CMS like WordPress takes time. Once you grasp the dashboard, install some plugins, and start posting, you’ll most likely start wondering about WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks.
Essentially trackbacks and pingbacks share the same qualities. They are designed to let bloggers know someone has linked to a post they have written, creating community. In today’s world it would be comparable to a Twitter mention (@facingweb). When someone links to you a trackback or pingback will show up in the comment section of the post referred to.
In order to send and receive WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks they need to be enabled on both blogs. You can enable them in the WordPress dashboard under Settings > Discussion > and check “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks).”
One way trackbacks are different than pingbacks is trackbacks usually show an excerpt of the post content with the link. Whereas, Pingbacks usually show just an URL. Special trackback URLs also have to be manually entered into a widget on the post edit panel. The trackback URL are commonly found near the bottom of a post you are linking to. Looks similar to: http://www.somewebsite.com/trackback/158745.
Trackbacks have been around since blogging first became popular but seem to be dying since they are easily faked because they are manually entered. Naturally, spammers exploit any means to boost search engine rankings and create time-sucking moderation issues in the receiving bloggers comment moderation panel. High-traffic blogs don’t bother with trackbacks because of spamming making them even more obsolete. Therefore, pingbacks were designed to tackle some of the problems found with trackbacks.
Automatically adding a link in the comment section of the post you linked to in your article, pingbacks don’t require you to find a special URL or do anything besides enable them in your settings. Contrary to what most people believe, pingbacks also send an excerpt, like trackbacks, but very few themes display the excerpt and commonly display a link only.
Since pingbacks are automatic they are not as easily faked because of the verification process they must go through before posting.
“The automatic verification process introduces a level of authenticity, making it harder to fake a pingback.” – WordPress Codex
However, pingbacks tend to slow down page loading because of the verification process and bloggers see a huge difference in load times. Therefore, most people don’t bother with pingbacks not only for load times but the same time-sucking moderation issue is still prevalent as with trackbacks.
Relevant? Yes, barely.
Designed for connecting bloggers and exchanging positive traffic and links, trackbacks and pingbacks can still give you an opportunity to make a connection you otherwise may have not been able to. However, if you send a trackback to a fellow blogger I wouldn’t expect much to come of it since their comments moderation panel may be full of spam. I would suggest leaving a meaningful comment on their post which would be engaging the author and readers. They may even reciprocate and you’ll have made a new friend.
Still trackback confused? This video gives a great explanation.
or check out this article from the Elegant Themes Blog I found very useful for considering relevancy for WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks in 2015.