How to increase traffic on a WordPress blog? Explaining pingbacks and trackbacks.

Do you know what the connection between a wolf and a blog might be?

The wolf is a herd animal that functions worse on its own than in a herd. It is similar in the case of a blog – left alone, it will gain reputation slower than it would do with someone else – that is, with another blog. The correlation of two or more blogs gives a possibility of the effective increase of the ranking in search results and even finding new business contacts. Partial connection of blogs is possible due to pingbacks. If you are interested in what it is about, I encourage you to read the article.

What is pingback?

Pingback is a WordPress comment which is created when someone posts a link to your post on an external website. The notification shows up in the administration panel (Entries tab) in the comment section as a piece of text – the one on which the link points on someone’s website. Like comments, pingbacks are one blogger’s way to connect your blog with another blog. One can say that they handle a network between bloggers. 

Many companies make use of this application – a good example is our company which pings articles from to and the other way round. 

The scheme of pingbacks operation can be simply described in four steps:

  1. Blog A publishes the article.
  2. Blog B creates its entry and links it to an article in blog A
  3. WordPress automatically creates and sends a ping to an article of blog A and informs its author about it. 
  4. Then, a comment is displayed in article A which is connected with article B (after its acceptance). As a result, Pingback is displayed next to the comments at the bottom of the article.     
woman sitting in fornt of the laptop with a notebook in her hand

What is trackback?

Trackback is an older version of pingback which is also responsible for notifying bloggers about their connection. If you want to send a trackback in the content of the article you don’t have to refer to it and it should be created manually. Pingbacks, on the other hand, don’t send any content (only a link that is visible on the website when published). Trackbacks are not automatically verified, they transfer more information than pingbacks and they use the HTTP protocol.

In addition, using trackbacks had its cons, e.g.:

  • no actual verification on the upcoming trackback,  
  • the blogger receiving trackback could edit its content on his server,
  • there was a chance of falsifying them.

Why use pingbacks?  

Pingbacks are mostly used to improve SEO, that is, positioning. This process is about carrying out activities aimed at improving the ranking of a website in free (organic) search results. Since pingbacks are created by having external links on a blog of another person, they are strictly connected with SEO. A lot of pingbacks mean the increase of the number of backlinks leading to a blog, and these can in turn positively influence the position of the website in the search results. 

Using pingbacks may be useful if you want for example: 

  • improve cooperation with other partner blogs,
  • promote your websites, 
  • establish new business contacts.

Are there any disadvantages of using pingbacks? 

Unfortunately, unskillful use of pingbacks can cause problems Firstly, you need to know that pingbacks can steal your website’s traffic. Let’s assume that someone has read your article, scrolled to the comments section, and found a link leading to another (other than yours) website. Thus, the blog reader may never come back to your website again.

Another downside is the fact that some pingbacks may cause a threat to the ranking of your website. It’s mainly about connecting with websites with low trust and authority. By agreeing to that, you risk being rated by the search engines as untrustworthy. Such practices are often being used by spammers or owners of new websites who send out a lot of pingbacks in hope that some websites will accept them. Accepted pingbacks will mean a free backlink to your site.

 Therefore, it is recommended to configure notifications for pingbacks. Thanks to that, you will be able to accept or reject each request. What is more, it is worth monitoring all new pingbacks.

Configuration of pingbacks in WordPress

Based on the previous description, one can say that the application of pingbacks is quite a useful idea, right? However, before that, each one of them must be accepted – similar to a comment. Also, for a two-way “ping exchange”, the blogs must be set at accepting them. In relation to that, two obligations must be met: 

  1. When publishing a post, make sure that in the “Discussion” field, the option “allow for trackbacks and pingbacks” is selected. The file is located in the side tab “Entry”. 
  2.  In WordPress settings, in the tab “Discussion”, you have to allow other blogs to notify you about placing a link to newly added entries. 

How to check whether the blog we are referring to allows pingbacks?

You may think now: “Ok, I have accepted both options but how can I check if the other side did it too?”. You can easily do it. To do so, go to the article and open the page source preview. It can be done by clicking the right mouse button and selecting “Investigate” (For Chrome). Then search for (CTRL + F) “pingback”. If you find a record similar to the one on the below screen, it means that your blog accepts notifications about pingbacks.

However, you must be aware that accepting pingbacks is not equal to its acceptance by the author. 

Switching off your pingbacks in WordPress.

Pingbacks can also work within your website. If one of your articles includes a link to another article, your WordPress will send “its pings”. Referring to your own articles is a good solution from an SEO perspective. However, a significant amount of pingbacks may be irritating and result in less readable comments. 

In WordPress there are two effective ways to turn off own pingbacks:

  • The first one is using     plugin. Its advantage is simplicity – it works automatically after installation and you don’t have to configure it. Additionally, the plugin allows you to exclude pingbacks for individual ULR addresses.
  • The second, more advanced way is to manually paste a special code to the functions.php file, which should be in the folder of the WordPress theme you use. CAUTION: Before taking action and implementing any changes to the server, we recommend making backup copies of files. 

The code which has to be entered looks as follow: 

function no_self_ping( &$links ) {

    $home = get_option( ‘home’ );

    foreach ( $links as $l => $link )

        if ( 0 === strpos( $link, $home ) )



add_action( ‘pre_ping’, ‘no_self_ping’ );

woman working on a laptop with a phone in her hand

How to check the pingbacks you received?

You can check the received pingbacks in the blog administration panel in two ways:

  1. For a single article – by moving to all entries and by clicking the comment section next to the title of the entry. Then expand the “all types of comments” field and select “Pings” and accept by clicking the “Filter” button.
  2. For all articles – move to the main comments tab and follow the instruction above. If you have a plugin responsible for comments and sorting, search in its settings.

Pingbacks are not visible – cause

It may happen that pingbacks are not visible on your website. It is then worth starting by reviewing the settings in accordance with the above paragraph “Configuration of pingbacks in WordPress”. If the options are configured properly, another common cause is blocking pingbacks by an implemented plugin responsible for the comments section, e.g. Disqus. In such cases we recommend switching it off or finding another, alternative plugin – if you care about an additional functionality or adding a code to the plug-in which will “force” pingbacks. 


Pingbacks may turn out to be an effective way to improve SEO and help you to make and strengthen the relationship between bloggers. It is also a good way to promote your websites, which use such a solution. Thanks to our pingbacks, you will be able to build more backlinks. However, each time when you accept them, make sure it is not spam or other new, low-quality websites. Such websites could be disadvantageous and lower your ranking in search results. In addition, pingbacks may steal traffic from your website. 

As you can see, pingbacks may have both pros and cons. It all depends on the skillful management of them.

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