Links, Backlinks, Pingbacks and Trackbacks – What Exactly Are They?

[This is a guest authored post By RT Cunningham of Untwisted Vortex. I do not think RT needs any introduction in the blogging world, that is because from May 2006 till today, he has written 769 articles that have been viewed for over 500,000 times! Look in his Top Posts. RT’s topics range from Blogging Tips to Celebrities to Marketing and Promotion and he even has posts on Philippines Government since he has been living in Philippines for some time now. As a matter of fact, I believe just about everyone who goes to his site will end up spending hours and come away completely entertained as well learning something new. I am glad I found RT’s site and if you haven’t yet visited his site, please do. You’ll be glad you did. Thanks so much for agreeing to write for this blog RT. This post will be submitted to Darren’s month long project for building a better blog].

RT Conningham

It surprises me to read items on social networks where it’s obvious the writers don’t know what “links”, “backlinks”, “pingbacks” and “trackbacks” are. I can understand it coming from non-website owners, but from people who write on blogs everyday? While researching this topic, the only thing I could come up with is that the information surrounding these terms just isn’t publicized enough. We need to change that. I’ll help with the change by explaining what they are and the “how and why” of increasing the ones that count. Below is an example of what linking and interlinking amongst various sites will look like. Weblinks

Links, also called hyperlinks, are links to other blogs. Simple enough, right? Generally, links refer only to outbound links. Links from your blog to another. There’s another term for inbound links, which are different from outbound links. Links can produce pingbacks if they’re used properly.

Backlinks refer to inbound links. Some writers call them “linkbacks” but that’s incorrect. The search engines call them backlinks and so should we. If a backlink comes from another blog, chances are it will have pinged your blog. If the ping pointed to a specific article, your blog will normally have produced a pingback in the comment section.

A pingback is probably the most confusing term of all. When you post an article and there’s even one link in that article, the software will ping that link (provided you have your software properly set up). If that link happens to point to a specific page on a blog, and the blog is set up to accept pings (some aren’t), a pingback will appear in the comments section of that blog. If the link doesn’t point to a specific page, no pingback can occur. You can still see if the ping went through to the blog by looking at the “blog reactions” on Technorati. If you want to track this information for your own blog, I suggest you to become a member of Technorati and claim your blog there, if you haven’t already done so.

A trackback is almost the same as a pingback. The difference is that your blog doesn’t have to link to the other blog in the article itself. There’s usually a separate spot in the software designed specifically for sending pings to trackback URLs. If the ping goes to a specific page on the other blog, a trackback will appear in the comments section of that block.

The WordPress blog software is set up to do all these things the right way, in its default configuration. Other software and hosted blog services may not be set up properly and will require customization steps. Andy Beard has some excellent articles on how to send a trackback with Blogger.

I notice a lot of blog writers are hesitant about including links in their articles. The contrary should be true. You can’t increase pingbacks without linking out to other blogs. When you link out to other blogs, whether the links produce pingbacks or not, it gets the attention of the owners of the other blogs (and their readers if there happens to be a pingback there). The owners and the readers will sometimes pay a visit to your blog. In my experience, they visit more often than not, just to see what you’re up to. Do not use trackbacks if you can help it. While they can do some good for your blog, they do nothing for the blogs you send them to.

In case you haven’t heard of it, there is a growing movement on the Internet that includes bloggers who want to give credit to other blogs via the comments section of their blogs. They have installed special plugins to remove the “rel=nofollow” tag from comment author URLs, pingbacks and trackbacks. Once again, Andy Beard wrote a great article on the dofollow movement.

This is why linking to other blogs is important. If you link to an article (also called deep linking) on a blog that has the nofollow tag disabled, the pingback becomes a backlinks for you! Now, I’m not saying that you should target only those blogs. You should target any blog where the link is relevant to your article. However, you can create “speed link” articles to make all the links in those articles relevant. Take a look at one of my infamous blog drive-bys for an example of how it can be done. As a matter of fact, this article will produce three pingbacks as backlinks!

The purpose behind all of the terms I just went over is to increase traffic. Linking produces traffic. Linking produces backlinks and that’s how our blogs are found by non-bloggers (and even some bloggers). Linking is important!

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52 Responses to “ Links, Backlinks, Pingbacks and Trackbacks – What Exactly Are They? ”

  1. Backlinks are key to increasing your search engine popularity LinkPartnerExpress is the best on the web…I have 6500 links, all quality!!

  2. Thanks for such a detailed article. But its more than a year old.
    Has anything changes since then !!

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