With WordPress, what is a pingback? Should I approve them?

Speech Bubble

This week, I was asked a question by someone who uses WordPress for their blog. Sheryl asked me “What is a pingback? And should I approve them?”

So I’m going to describe what a pingback is using as little technical language as possible.

Let’s start with Comments

When you publish a blog article, you’ve probably noticed that visitors can leave comments on your articles. Healthy discussion about your articles can be great for your blog. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get any. You tend to only get comments on certain types of blog posts anyway.

Now, most comments are spammy, so you’ll want to mark those comment as spam. However, a few of them will be genuine and interesting.

Pingbacks

Pingbacks (also known as trackbacks) are a form of automated comment for a page or post, created when another WordPress blog links to that page or post.

When you publish a new blog post, WordPress attempts to ‘ping‘ all the sites that were linked to in your post. i.e. Your WordPress website is informing other websites that you’ve linked to them.

When you receive pingpacks, then it means someone else has linked to one of your posts or pages.

Pingbacks – The Benefit?

You know when someone has linked to you. That’s the only benefit.

Should you approve pingbacks?

No, as there’s no benefit to you whatsoever. If you do approve them, a link is created back to the linking website, but it’s a worthless link from the perspective of the search engines.

Additionally, pingback comments offer nothing for your readers. Approved pingback comments look terrible. Another reason to delete them.

Pingback Spam

Once upon a time, when pingback links did offer value in terms of the search engines, there was a surge in software designed to create fake pingbacks just to get links. (Fake in that there was no real website linking to you). This goes on a little bit these days, but has mostly gone away.

In Summary

Pingbacks offer no value if they are approved, just delete them. They are useful for knowing if someone links to you, but that’s it.

I hope that helps!

Your First Name * Your Email Address *

Written by Dan Harrison

Dan Harrison is the lead developer and director of WP Doctors Ltd, a web development agency specialising in writing bespoke tools for WordPress-based websites that save time, hassle and money. You can follow Dan on Twitter here: @DanJHarrison and WP Doctors here: @wpdoctors.

30 Comments

Leave a comment
  1. Christo May 16, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Hi Dan,

    I searched a lot of places to finally get the answers which you have given! Specifically, should I approve them and do they offer any value… No and no! Thank you. Love your style and thank you for the answers.

    Best regards,
    Christo

  2. Brian June 29, 2013 at 1:04 am #

    Thanks, Dan, for this straightforward explanation of pingbacks. I now understand and will therefore not approve them! Nicely done.

  3. Barbara Taylor July 7, 2013 at 2:25 am #

    Thank you so much for the information. I was wondering what I should do with a pingback and now I know. I did have a question, though. What if your pingback is your own? For example, if you reference a previous post. In those cases, do you still delete them? Thank you so much for your article. :)

    • Dan Harrison July 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      Hi Barbara

      Yes. Your own pingbacks serve no purpose whatsoever :)

      Dan

  4. Deaunna July 9, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    Just wanted to say thanks for a clear and concise answer! Sometimes the information is just not enough. As a non-techie person, I mostly want answers like, “Yes! Do this!” or “No! Don’t do that!” so I can get on with my work and life. Thank you!

  5. Whisper July 18, 2013 at 2:00 am #

    Hi Dan,

    I’ve been searching for clarity on the pingback issue for quite some time as I’m always getting pingback emails. Thank you for your great content on this issue – very helpful.

  6. Boris Dzhingarov July 29, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    Hello Dan,

    I was just wondering if I need to approve my own pingbacks when i insert internal link in new post. I am happy that I found answer of my question so quick .

    Thanks

    • Dan Harrison August 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      No Boris, you can just delete your own pingbacks. They aren’t useful at all.

  7. Emily | emilymeetsworld.com August 6, 2013 at 10:00 am #

    Thanks for this I just got my first pingback but all I could see was someone had managed to slip in a link to them on my website – how rude! Wanted to investigate further but after reading this I will definitely be removing. Would you recommend disabling the setting altogether? Why do they even exist?!

    Emily

    • Dan Harrison August 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      Hi Emily

      I keep them enabled to see when I’m mentioned on other blogs, but I always delete them. So it’s useful as a mini-spy tool to see what’s going on. :)

      Dan

      • Mary December 17, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

        My question is related to that, Dan. I want to know who and how people are referring to my site. I’m having trouble finding who created the pingback. What am I missing?

        • Dan Harrison December 31, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

          Hi Mary

          With pingbacks, in WP-Admin in the comment moderation section, you should be able to see what website created the link. Some links may be dangerous, so be careful of links that look wrong (i.e. don’t click on them). However, with the links that look fine, you can just click on them to see the source website.

          Dan

  8. Jason August 14, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    Thanks for writing this article. I use to approve pingbacks thinking that it would boost my rankings in search engines somehow:-) But now I know better! lol

    Thanks a lot. Take care!

  9. Brian September 8, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

    Dan, great little piece on trackbacks and pingbacks. I just started building a new site and noticed these comments. Was not sure how to handle them, do I approve or just leave them. Thanks.

  10. miguel shands September 20, 2013 at 1:12 am #

    thanks man i thought i was actually getting something out of pingbacks, good to know i dont have to waste my time with them anymore!

  11. Nancy September 20, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    Thanks so much for the article, I was just wondering if the Pingbacks where useful (I had just deleted 7 on my blog) so I decided to search for an answer…and here it is. Thanks so much I have always wondered about this subject and you gave a very understandable explanation.

  12. Erin Sizer September 22, 2013 at 3:16 am #

    Hi Dan,

    That was extremely helpful. Thank you!

  13. Louise Bibby December 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    Thanks Dan. I was looking for a simple answer to exactly the question you were asked – and you provided that simple answer! If only every question I had about online business had such simple, clearly explained blog posts about them it’d be heaven :-). Thank you so much. I really appreciate your help.

    Cheers

    Louise Bibby
    Ballarat, Australia

    • Bex December 29, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

      That’s so true Louise. I am so glad I’ve found Dan’s site. I’ve bookmarked it and intend to refer to it a lot now. Too many people get all technical and it frustrates me as I end up feeling stupid for not understanding them.

  14. Andy Enriquez December 21, 2013 at 6:18 am #

    Hey Dan,

    I’m new to WordPress and blogging in general. I’ve noticed pingbacks but never knew what they were for. I was always sure that they weren’t anything I should be too worried about. I finally looked around to see what they really are and found your wonderful article. Thanks for the info! I’ll be sure to come back for more.

    Andy E.

  15. Bex December 29, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    Thanks Dan. I recently created my site and every time I link a post of my own into a new blogpost (of my own), I keep getting pingbacks too.

    You’ve helped me understand what a Pingback is now, how useful it is and also whether I should delete or not. Cheers.

  16. Lucas Duxbury January 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    thanks for the info Dan. I also wanted to add that when you put an internal link in you blog posts that ALSO creates a ping back. So ping backs are not always someone else linking to your content…it could just be your internal links.

    • Dan Harrison January 31, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      Hi Lucas

      Yep, you’re completely correct!

      Dan

  17. Shawn sum January 4, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    Thanks Dan, it was my first time to encounter a pingback. Decided to check around before approving them, lucky to have chance upon your site. Thanks again

  18. sharona Kaufman January 9, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    finally an answer that makes sence!
    Thank you!

  19. Steve Brock January 10, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    Thank you Dan for this informative pingback article!
    I am fairly new to WP and always have wondered whether or not to approve pingbacks. Now I know!

  20. Simon Ellinas January 14, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    This is the best explanation of pingbacks I have found. Thank you. I tend to get up to ten pingbacks every time I post a new item and wondered what was going on. I run two websites whih are, obviously, linked and wonder if they ping back to each other, especially as I leave links to other pages at the end of each post.

  21. Hazuwan Hamdan January 16, 2014 at 1:36 am #

    Thanks a lot Dan. Your answer has definitely cleared my confusion. Hope to hear more from you.

    P.S I subscribe to your newsletter.

  22. Kenneth January 26, 2014 at 6:13 am #

    Thank you :) I was looking for the answer and you nailed it :) Take care!

  23. Lauri D Goldenhersh January 26, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

    Thanks, Dan — You get right to the point, and it’s much appreciated. Keep up the great work!
    Lauri