What is a Pingback? Is it Bad?

Cynthia Bartz • December 27, 2016

If you have been blogging on WordPress for any length of time, you have probably seen a pingback on your admin dashboard. And if you are any thing like me you asked: what the heck is a pingback? And what should I do with it? In this article I will explain what a pingback is and what you should do if you get one.

What is a Pingback?

Pingbacks are a way of letting you know when other WordPress bloggers have shared a link to your blog post.

For example: Let’s say that you have a blog. You read an article on my blog and want to share it with your audience. You write a blog article with commentary on my article, and share a link where they can read my full article. If you are also a WordPress user, I will get a pingback letting me know that you have linked to my article on your website. If I approve the pingback, your article link will show up as a comment underneath my article.

Pingbacks happen automatically. I like to think of them as an extension of comments, since most of the time a pingback is coming from an article with extended commentary.

At the core, a pingback is letting you know that another WordPress user has shared your article. Approved pingbacks show up as a link in the comments for your article.

Only for Posts

Pingbacks only work for blog posts. You will not receive a pingbacks if someone shares a link to your home

Pingback vs Trackback

Pingbacks are WordPress specific. So, if your article is shared on tumblr or on a Squarespace website, you will never get a pingback.

Another term you might hear in connection to pingbacks is trackbacks. In essence a trackback and a pingback are the same, but a trackback is manual and trackbacks are not specific to WordPress. I put trackbacks in the category of things you don’t need to worry about.

Should I have Pingbacks Enabled?

If you are receiving a pingback, it is because you have it enabled in your WordPress Admin. I generally recommend that every WordPress website have them enabled. Here are the two reasons I recommend having pingbacks enabled: social connection and copyright infringement.

Social Connection

If other WordPress users are linking to your content that is a good thing. An amazing thing! It means you are writing things worth reading and worth sharing. If you receive a pingback you can return the favor of having your content shared by approving the pingback. It also gives you the ability to give a shout out to the person who shared your content, by calling them out on social media.

If you have pingbacks disabled then you will never know that your article was shared.

Copyright Infringement

The internet is the internet. People steal all the time. And sometimes they are stupid enough to link to your article from their plagiarized article. If you have pingbacks enabled you can call them out on it and request that they take the article down or removed the plagiarized content. Again, if you don’t have pingbacks enabled you will never get that chance.

Read more about copyright: Avoid a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

How to Enable or Disable Pingbacks

Enabling or Disabling pingbacks is a single checkbox in your settings. So, if you turned them off and this article has changed your mind, or if you are still annoyed and want to disable them, it is really easy.

Enable/Disable Pingbacks:

  • You will login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • Go to Settings > Discussion.
  • Check the second box to enable (Titled: Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles)
    -OR-
    Uncheck the second box to disable

pingback settings are located in settings > discussion
enable pingback in settings with second checkbox

NOTE: You must be an administrator role to make this change.

What if I don’t have comments?

As I mentioned at the top of the article, an approved pingback shows up as a comment on your articles. So, doesn’t that mean pingbacks are useless if you have comments disabled? The short answer is no, for the reasons listed above. You still get benefits by enabling pingbacks. Even if you have comments disabled, I would allow pingbacks.

I also want to point out that disabling comments doesn’t not block the functionality of pingbacks. Pingbacks will still work, the only difference is that approved pingbacks will not show up as comments, because you don’t have comments.

I Keep Getting Pingbacks from My Own Posts

One of the most annoying things about enabling pingbacks is that you will get pingbacks from your own articles. It is good practice to link to other articles you have written (as you see throughout this post). When you link to an old article you will get a pingback on your own article. How obnoxious.

Approving your own pingback will add links to your other articles in the comments section, just like a pingback from another website. If you don’t want to add links to your comments you can just trash the pingback.

If you disabled pingbacks because of internal pingbacks, there is another answer. You can install a plugin called No Self Pings. This plugin disables pings from within your own website.

View Plugin: No Self Pings

Summary

A pingback is letting you know that another WordPress user has linked to your website from a blog article they have written. An approved pingback shows up as a link in your comments underneath your post. Pingbacks can be beneficial, even if you do not have comments enabled, by making it easier to connect with people who are sharing your content, and catch people who are stealing your content.

Not sure if you should approve a pingback? Sign up for my newsletter and make sure you don’t miss next week’s article, where I walk through which pingbacks you should approve and which you should trash.

Sign Up: cbgraphics.net/newsletter

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