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What, Why, and How-To’s of Trackbacks and Pingbacks in WordPress

Recently a user asked us about trackbacks and pingbacks in WordPress. They also wanted to know how these two features can be used more effectively.

Trackbacks and pingbacks are modes of communication between WordPress blogs. They have been around since the early days of blogging, but very few users know about these features.

In this article, we’ll explain trackbacks and pingbacks in WordPress. We’ll talk about their difference, how they work, and how to use them.

What, Why, and How to's of WordPress Pingbacks and Trackbacks

What is a Trackback?

Trackbacks give bloggers the ability to communicate between websites. Its almost like one person saying to another “This is something you may be interested in”.

Here is how trackbacks work in WordPress:

  • We write a post on our blog.
  • You want to comment on our post, but you want your own readers to see what you have to say and able to comment on it.
  • You’ll then write a post on your own blog and send a trackback to our blog post. (By default, WordPress does not allow you to send manual trackbacks while writing a blog post).
  • We’ll receive your trackback, and choose to display it as a comment or not. The comment display will be a title, excerpt and a link to your blog post.

What is a Pingback?

Pingbacks give blogs the ability to communicate through an automated system. It is almost like remote comments.

Here is how pingbacks work in WordPress.:

  • We write a post on our blog.
  • After that you write a post on your blog mentioning/linking to our article.
  • Your blogging software will automatically send our blog platform a pingback.
  • Our blogging software will receive the pingback. It will then automatically go to your blog to confirm that the pingback originates there, and the link is present.
  • After that, we will have the ability to display your pingback as a comment. This will solely be a link to your site.

Pingbacks also work within your site. This means that if you link to one of your own articles on the same site, then WordPress would automatically send a pingback to itself.

This is called a self-ping, and once you start blogging regularly you may find them annoying. Don’t worry, they can be easily turned off as we’ll show you later in this article.

What is the difference between Trackbacks and Pingbacks?

Not much really. They both do the same thing but take a slightly different approach.

The first difference is that the trackbacks are manual whereas pingbacks are automatic (different communication technology).

Secondly, pingbacks do not send any content while trackbacks are accompanied by an excerpt of the content.

How to Send Trackbacks and Pingbacks in WordPress

Since WordPress 5.0, the ability to manually send a trackback to other blogs has been removed from the post edit screen.

The feature was not used that much and WordPress already has automatic pingbacks enabled by default.

However, the functionality is still there and available with the old classic editor. Simply edit a post in the classic editor, and you’ll find the option to send trackbacks below the edit area.

Send trackbacks in classic editor

If you cannot find the trackbacks metabox in the classic editor, then click on the Screen Options button at the top right corner of the screen. Check the box next to ‘Send trackbacks’ option and WordPress will start showing send trackbacks box below the edit area.

Show send trackbacks box

How to Moderate Pingbacks and Trackbacks in WordPress?

The moderation is fairly simple. Both trackbacks and pingbacks show up under the comment moderation area. From here, you can approve, delete, or mark them as spam.

Moderate pingbacks and trackbacks

From our experience, 99% of all trackbacks and pingbacks are spam. This is the easiest way for spammers to get a backlink from your site.

In our case, often we see pingbacks from content scrappers (content thieves) who copy our entire articles word-by-word including all the links.

Due to those links, their blogging software automatically send pingbacks to our articles.

The few times when we found trackbacks/pingbacks to be helpful when legit bloggers linked to us, they actually helped us find that we were featured in Mashable and NYTimes.

In short, we have found 99% of all trackbacks/pingbacks to be spam. This is the reason why we have disabled them entirely. It is not worth the time to moderate a ton of spam.

There are other ways to find out who linked to your articles. The easiest one is to use Google Analytics to find who links to your site.

How to Disable Trackbacks, Pingbacks, and Self Pings

If you are tired of getting spammy trackbacks and pingbacks, then there is an option for you to disable them entirely.

Simply go to the Settings » Discussion page and uncheck “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)” option.

Disable incoming trackbacks and pingbacks in WordPress

Unchecking that box will only disable trackbacks and pingbacks for future posts (not existing posts).

To disable trackbacks on existing posts, you must follow our tutorial on how to disable trackbacks and pingbacks on existing WordPress posts.

If you are tired of your blog self-pinging itself, then you can simply install and activate the No Self Pings plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, the plugin will disable self pings on your WordPress site.

We hope this article helped you learn about WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks, you may also want to see our list of the must have WordPress plugins and the best email marketing services for small businesses.

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Reader Interactions

124 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Helpful post indeed. Thank you.
    On a personal level though, I stopped using it for quite some time now.

  2. I’m curious is it weird to approve self-pings? Internal linking is still a good thing but would there be any cons//would it just look weird? Thanks!

    • It’s a bit of a personal preference question. It adds more admin tasks for you to do with the links to approve and you already have an internal link to cause the pingback so most do not find value in allowing self pings.

      Admin

  3. I am so glad I discovered this website because it make everything so crystal clear especially if you are a beginner (I guess that’s why it’s named appropiately). I love it.

  4. What about the real blogger who don’t spam. Don’t you accept their trackback/pingback then , even though they are legit ?

  5. Are there any advantages to approving a trackback. I just got one and I don’t know if I should or shouldn’t approve it. If someone clicks it, I risk losing a visitor, don’t I?

  6. Thank you for explaining TrackBacks.

    I got two but the commenters name etc looked false and immediately raized the alarm.

    So, if they do copy your article word for word, no one should panick, because Google will not give that copied post good ranking and they will hurt their website rankings! Or, am I missing something more important here?

    I will disable trackbacks.

    Thanks.

  7. Thank you so much for Tweeting this article! I just last week received 6 Pingbacks and had no idea what to do about them.
    I had just moved from Blogger to WordPress.org earlier this year and I have been learning the platform and had never heard of Trackbacks and Pingbacks until last week.
    I watched Your talk with Micheal Hyatt and learned so much too. I’m so glad I subscribed to Platform University and heard about your site it has been so helpful. I’m implementing a lot of the things you talked about with Micheal Hyatt.
    Sherry

  8. Thanks for the explanation. I would instantly stop all trackbacks and pingbacks if I were more experienced. I’ve been blogging for 7 years but only just moved from Blogger to WP. THANK GOODNESS FOR YOUR WEBSITE. Without it, I do not know what I would do!

    I host two blog hops. I love meaningful comments from my guests at the parties as well as on other posts. Will disabling trackbacks or pingbacks interfere with my parties or real commentary? If it won’t, I’m disabling immediately. Another question… on existing spammy comments, is it better to mark them as spam or send them to the trash?

    • Hi Sinea,

      Thank you for kind words, we are glad that you find WPBeginner helpful. To answer your questions:

      1. No, disabling pingbacks and trackbacks will not affect comments on your website.
      2. It is better to mark spam comments as spam.

      Admin

  9. Thank you for addressing this! Honestly its a confusing topic. I recently had my post pinged back upon. (How on earth would one say that!?!)

    I noticed that when she pinged me her post (in wordpress) automatically used my featured image for the post I had written.

    I have pinged a different blogs post (not a wordpress blog) today and I don’t see if there is a way to include the image.

    Is it still pinging if it is not a wordpress blog? Could that be what is different?

    Thanks!

  10. Greetings

    I see there is an unanswered question in all this; If I do not approve a Pingback, will the link still work. I am afraid I am not as fawning as all the other people above. I run a recently launched blog; Network Bees and I have lots of links to your pages. All of them are genuine, ie, I read your articles and link to relevant, well written materials.

    It worries me therefore, that all that effort is for nought because you are labeling all my links as spam. I may be confused about the whole thing, however. I think one of the comments above asked the same issue. Does disabling pingbacks and trackbacks mean that people cant link to a page? Or do the links still work nevertheless?

    One of the things that I have discovered is that established bloggers tend to be a bit “detached” when it comes to interacting with new bloggers. There is this blog that allows guest posts but does not allow even a single link to the author’s blog! I mean, what would be the point? In any case, that’s a digression. My question is above….

    • Hi Tapiwa,

      When you link to another WordPress powered website, the link on your website will work just fine. If the site you are linking to has the pingbacks and trackbacks disabled, then they will not see the link in their moderation queue and will not be able to mark it as spam. You should keep working on your blog as you normally would.

      Admin

  11. Thanks for this article and your site!

    I got a rather generic comment with a link to a site in the UK that had content unrelated to my blog post (a garden photo post linked to a job seeking website). i approved the comment initially because I want people to read and respond to my posts. After reading this article, I went in and removed the links and left the comment by itself.

    Is this method ever used as a way to break into someone’s site to hack it? Or is it just a way to get someone from another site to click their link and go to their site? Thanks again for your help with this subject.

  12. Great post! Thank you for sharing. :)

    Personally, my confusion lies with moderation options. For example, if a legitimate blog links to my site, and I move it to “Trash”, is the link deactivated? i.e. It’s fine for them to link to me, but I don’t want the pingbacks displaying at the bottom of my post… so would this be the best selection?

    I’d just like to better understand the consequence of each moderation selection: Approve, Unapprove, Trash, Spam, and Trash. What actually happens when each of these are selected.

    Thanks a lot!!

  13. Perfect! Been wondering about this for a while. Thanks for the focused “Don’t waster your time” advice.

  14. Now I have good knowledge of Trackbacks and PingBacks, trackbacks are mannual with contents and pingbacks are automated / software based both will 99% spam.

    Your article is very good and clearly belongs to questions that I was trying to find.

    Good websites and information as well.

  15. This is very useful information for me too. Actually i was very confused before this. When i research on my website, that one trackback post show there.

    After read this knowledgeable article about trackback and pingback . my problem has been solve.

  16. Hi,

    Considering your title is what, how, why, you haven’t explained how to create a trackback. I am a complete noobie to blogging, so treat me like an idiot :)

  17. I was going to use track backs on our site. We tried them for a while and we were just inundated with spamming comment (of which this comment is not lol). In the end I decided that is was not worth using track back at all.

  18. Hi, If I disable pingbacks/trackbacks as you’ve suggested, will that also stop internal pinkbacks?

    Thanks

    • Internal pingbacks can be avoided by making sure that the url used only shows the extension of the full url. Look at the url for this post. To avoid self-pings you want the link to only read “/beginners-guide/what-why-and-how-tos-of-trackbacks-and-pingbacks-in-wordpress/”. This info is from the make.wordpress site. To do this add the link and check in text editor mode and delete the domain portion of the url

  19. Thanks for this article on trackbacks and pingbacks. I had been thinking of the advantages of allowing trackbacks from genuine bloggers but if your experience is that 99% comes from spam then I don’t think the 1% is worth it.

    I think I will place a prominent notice advising bloggers to use the Contact Me form to request a link up.

  20. Have been reading the release notes on 4.0.1, specifically the XSS vulnerability in comments which launches upon moderating comments.

    I don’t suppose any one would know if the trace ping backs could be exploited in the same way.

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