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WordPress Trackbacks and Pingbacks: Advantage and Harm

Have you ever heard of WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks but wondered what they are? As one of the most widely-used content management systems (CMS) globally, WordPress offers numerous features, with the above among the lesser-known. This article explains these terms and the potential pitfalls to be aware of.

The current article is "5.9. Trackbacks/Pingbacks" of our Complete SEO Guide Box.
Previous Article: 5.8. WP Reading Settings. Next Article: 5.10. Discussion Settings

Trackbacks in WordPress: A Brief Overview

Trackbacks in WordPress were created to facilitate communication between different blogs. They serve as a notification system; when you mention or reference another blog in your post, a trackback sends a brief excerpt of your content to that blog. The other blog’s owner and readers can then see a summary of your content in their comments section, giving them insight into your mention. Trackbacks offer a way to say, “Look, I’ve referenced you in my post.”

Pingbacks: The Evolution of Trackbacks

Much like WordPress trackbacks, pingbacks aim to notify other blogs when they’ve been mentioned in a post. However, pingbacks represent a more advanced version of trackbacks. While trackbacks require manual intervention, pingbacks are fully automated and only alert the referenced blog about the mention without sending an excerpt of the content.

Pingbacks facilitate these notifications using WordPress XML-RPC, a remote procedure call protocol. Additionally, pingbacks can operate reciprocally; if both blogs are pingback-enabled, any mutual linking will result in respective pingback notifications.

How WordPress Trackbacks and Pingbacks Benefit Your Site

At first glance, WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks may seem like simple notification tools. However, their true potential lies in their ability to foster interaction and engagement on your website. They can build a network of references among blogs, allowing others to discover your site, potentially leading to increased website traffic.

Furthermore, these features encourage acknowledgment and conversation among bloggers, promoting interaction and fostering an engaged community. Also, WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks can be a practical SEO tool, aiding your link-building strategy and potentially improving your website’s search engine rankings.

Potential Pitfalls of Trackbacks and Pingbacks

However, WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks can be exploited and misused like any tool. They are often subject to spamming, as unscrupulous entities might send unsolicited pingbacks to gain backlinks. This misuse has led many website owners to turn off these features entirely.

Moreover, not all trackbacks and pingbacks positively affect your SEO. If a low-quality website sends a trackback or pingback, it might negatively impact your website’s reputation with search engines.

Self-Pingbacks: An Unintended Consequence

Self-pingbacks are another aspect of the WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks system. Essentially, a self-pingback occurs when you link to your posts within your blog. WordPress treats these internal links as pingbacks and, thus, notifies you about them.

While this feature can be beneficial for keeping track of interlinked content within your blog, it can also lead to an over-cluttered comments section. Many bloggers find self-pingbacks unnecessary and confusing, leading some to turn off pingbacks altogether to avoid this particular issue.

As with all aspects of trackbacks and pingbacks, it’s essential to understand and manage these settings according to your website’s needs.

Read More

You can read more about Trackbacks and Pingbacks in the WordPress Docs.


In conclusion, WordPress trackbacks and pingbacks can help your website grow by fostering community and aiding SEO efforts. However, they carry more potential risks that can harm your website’s reputation than advantages. This is why we recommend disabling them in WordPress discussion settings. In addition, with the Clearfy Cache plugin, you can disable XML-RPC altogether to minimize the risks of spam and potential adversary attacks.

The current article is "5.9. Trackbacks/Pingbacks" of our Complete SEO Guide Box.
Previous Article: 5.8. WP Reading Settings. Next Article: 5.10. Discussion Settings


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