As a WordPress developer for small businesses, I sometimes forget what this free tool was built for originally… blogging. Which means there are often functions + features that don’t get as much attention if they aren’t being used. In fact, some of these features — WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks — may be disappearing from the CRM as they shift away from being just for blogs. They haven’t gone away yet, so let’s chat about them.
The difference between WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks
Both of these features of WordPress are like alerts for other blogs that you have linked to them. You might do this if you find a blog post on another site that you want your readers to see while also sharing your spin on the topic. Both of these are treated as comments in the dashboard.
Trackbacks are created in WordPress manually. You would add a trackback to another WordPress blog post in your own content. This acknowledgement or reference would appear at the end of your post — assuming your theme has the right code in place.
Unlike trackbacks, pingbacks happen automatically. This happens when you add a link directly to your blog post (or page). Maybe you like how someone elaborated on a topic, or you hint at something + want to provide more information through someone else’s site.
When you link that content, that site will now have a pending pingback in their comments.
And yes… you can have a pingback on your own website. This happens when you add links to other posts or pages within your content. I recommend doing that to keep users moving around your content. If the pingback alerts are annoying, you can easily manage them, or remove the alert entirely.
Managing these alerts on your site
While it’s important to know what WordPress trackbacks + pingbacks are, most folks don’t actively use these. Where site owners start to wonder about them is when they go to manage comments on their site. That’s when I get emails like “what are trackbacks?” or “if I delete these, is it bad for my site traffic?”
In your dashboard, head to Comments to see all alerts. You can filter by “Pings” or “All comment types” to see just the trackbacks + pingbacks on their own. An easy way to spot them is by the […] that start + end the comment.
Just like comments, you can approve, mark as spam or trash. If something is spam, mark it as such. Moving it to the trash isn’t as helpful in reducing / limiting the amount of spam you get.
Unfortunately, the majority of these alerts are spam. And we all know spam is annoying AF + something most site owners simply don’t want to deal with. If that’s you, I’d suggest turning these alerts off completely.
How to disable WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks
If you’re like most WordPress site owners, one of the biggest headaches is the quantity of spam. To help kick some of it to the curb, follow these steps to disable trackbacks + pingbacks.
- Go to Settings > Discussion in your dashboard
- Uncheck the “Allow link notifications from other blogs…” checkbox
- Scroll to the bottom of the page + click Save Changes
While you’re here, you can also turn off the option to get an email whenever anyone posts a comment, close comments on posts older than # of days + require that commenters must fill out their info to comment. These settings can help mitigate some spam.