Sunday, October 25, 2009

What in the world is a pingback and how can I use it for my company?

So, you are taking better care of your online brand. You have an SEO website and you are maintaining your blog. Great! Now what?

The point of establishing an online presence is to attract web traffic, so let's take a look at some tools to help gain attention to your site.

First, let's examine the the world of linkbacks.

A linkback is a method for Web authors to obtain notifications when other authors link to one of their documents. This enables authors to keep track of who is linking to, or referring to their articles. The three methods (Refback, Trackback, and Pingback) differ in how they accomplish this task.

Any of the four terms -- Linkback, Trackback, Pingback, or (rarely) Refback -- might also refer colloquially to items within a section upon the linked page that display the received notifications, usually along with a reciprocal link; Trackback is used most often for this purpose. Also, the word Trackback is often used colloquially to mean any kind of Linkback.

Drost Designs explains that the pingback system is a way for your blog to be automatically notified when other Web sites link to it. It is entirely transparent to the linking author, requiring no user intervention to work, and operates on principles of automatic discovery of everything that it needs to know.

Pingbacks allows you to automatically ping all the RSS and blog feed directories every time you make a post. This is a very powerful feature if you want your blog to get a lot of web traffic immediately. You automatically gain backlinks to your blog.

Trackbacks are ways for one site to notify another about an update.

A trackback consists of a link and optionally a snippet of text. On many blogs you do not have to enable trackbacks and just like comments the trackbacks are moderated.

Chris G explains how it normally works.

1. Mary Blog writes an article on cheese
2. Joe Blogger writes about Mary Blogs new post saying it is really cool
3. Joes blog sends a trackback to Marys blog
4. Marys blog receives the trackback and Mary sees the trackback in her comments moderation

In most cases this is all automatic, you just link to a post and it is all handled for you, in others you have to send trackbacks manually. If you use the scribefire firefox plugin you can send manual trackbacks for example. This involves pasting the special URL displayed in the other blogs post.

Why bother?
Trackbacks are like a kind of commenting. You are saying “I have written about this post over on my blog”. The hope would be that the blogger would notice and also if the trackback gets published that people will click through to read what you have to say. Many trackback links are wrapped in “no-follow” condoms but in some cases you get a clean link.

So, what's the difference?
While all of this may be new to you, trackbacks are the old, manual way of doing this while pingbacks are the more modern and automatic way. The old trackback way includes:

1. Getting the trackback URL for the other person’s content
2. Putting that URL into your blogging software’s editing interface
3. Writing an excerpt for what you said about their content

Pingbacks are much easier. All you have to do with a pingback is:

1. Links to someone else’s content

Daniel Miessler further explains that since pingbacks are enabled (both incoming and outgoing) by default on most major blogging engines. Here are a few other differences:

* Trackbacks contain more content, i.e. the excerpt, where pingbacks just have the source and destination links
* Pingbacks are less prone to spam than trackbacks, as incoming software checks to see if the source link actually exists before it allows it to be posted
* Pingbacks use XML-RPC while trackbacks use a standard HTTP POST

Pinbacks are essentially the newer and less time-consuming way of doing trackbacks.

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