What Are WordPress Pingbacks?

Hi Ashley! I was wondering if you could explain pingbacks. I’m not sure if they’re good, bad, spammy, etc. I’ve been getting several a week, and I see there’s a way to reject them. I just don’t know what to do! Reject? Keep? Ignore?

Hi Jana!

Pingbacks are totally cool and awesome. They’re actually one of my favourite WordPress features.

What is a pingback?

Pingbacks are kind of like notifications. Here’s an example:

Let’s say you, a WordPress blogger, write a blog post called, “How to get more traffic on your book blog”. Another WordPress blogger has a regular feature where they create a post linking up to their favourite blog posts from that week. A few days after you publish your post, they publish their weekly recap and link to your post. Their blog communicates with your blog to say, “Hey, I linked to your post!” Your blog verifies that, then sends you the notification about the pingback.

So as you can see, it’s kind of like a notification to you to inform you that someone linked to your post in their post.

Are pingbacks spam? – Not always!

Some pingbacks can be spam, just like comments. However, Akismet is pretty good at filtering through those, just like it is with comments. Just make sure you look at what the pingback says before deciding whether or not to trash it. Does it look like it came from a spam blog or a sketchy URL? Or does it look like a fellow book blogger? Pingbacks will come with a short excerpt of the text surrounding the other blogger’s link and a link to the post it came from. So it’s easy to check whether or not it’s a spammy pingback.

Example of a legit pingback

Example of a Legit WordPress Pingback
Click to Enlarge

But, if pingbacks annoy you, you can turn them off!

It’s very easy to disable pingbacks if you don’t want them. There are two settings for them in WordPress located in Settings » Discussion:

WordPress Pingback Settings

The first option is for pingbacks originating from your blog. So if you don’t want your blog to notify other bloggers when you link to their posts, you can disable it.

The second option is for incoming pingbacks. If you disable this option then you will not be notified when other bloggers link to your posts.

How do you feel about pingbacks? Do you have them enabled on your WordPress blog?

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  1. I just love pingbacks because it does not only tells you that a fellow blogger thinks that your post is worthy of their time but it also notifies you of the existence of other bloggers you didn’t know. You’ll just be surprised upon knowing that someone new has discovered your blog and they cared about your post. Hahaha.

    Good thing, I haven’t yet received spammy pingbacks.

    Charlotte recently posted: Mr. Webster and Writing Reviews
    1. My guess is that those strange looking ones are probably the spam ones! And with the spam ones, you’re right. They just want their link to show up on your site. It’s very similar to spam comments, where they just want to get their link out there to advertise/sell something.

  2. Whenever I get notified of an incoming long back, I feel a spurt of joy! However, I have noticed that sometimes I get an email telling me about a ping back months or weeks after it has been posted. It is pretty weird. Also, is it true that enabling pingbacks slows your load time since your blog has to fetch links? I read that somewhere… :/

    Christine @ Oh, Chrys! recently posted: Let’s Discuss, #19
    1. They can slow down your site a TINY bit, because when someone links to your site, your site has to visit that site to confirm it and then create the pingback (data) on your site. So it is a process. But I personally don’t think it increases load time in any noticeable way. Like I’ve experimented with pingbacks turned off and on and it’s not like when I turn them off I go “OMG my site is so much faster”. That’s not the case. The only way you’d probably even notice is if you do a speed test beforehand and afterwards. Maybe it will shave off a few milliseconds, if that.

      I think the pros (getting to see who’s linking to you) far outweigh the cons of an extra millisecond or two of loading time!

  3. In general, I like them because it’s always fun to get notified when someone links to your site.

    What I don’t like is when I write a post, link to one of my old posts/pages, and it creates a self-ping. It’s kind of annoying, especially when I’m doing a Top 10 Tuesday or monthly recap post and have to delete a bunch of self-pings. (I know, such a first world problem, right?)

    Terri @ Starlight Book Reviews recently posted: Month in Review: September 2013
  4. Pingbacks can be a bit of an annoyance, especially since I don’t have a self-hosted WordPress blog, so I can’t download any plugins to stop any pingbacks coming from myself. They also tend to mess up my design and they add to the comment count — which I’m totally OCD about! Overall, though, they come in pretty handy, and I always feel so touched when I see a pingback (from another blog) on one of my posts.

    But wow, I never knew there could be SPAM pingbacks. Are those automated, like spam comments? As in, no one actually linked to your post manually, but it was done by a virus/bug?

    Megan @ Adrift on Vulcan recently posted: Sometimesโ€ฆ I Feel Jealous: Blogging Envy
    1. That’s correct—with the spam ones there’s not really a person out there linking to your post. It’s not a virus though, it’s more like a robot doing it automatically to a ton of websites.

    1. You don’t really have to deal with the spam. 99% of it gets caught by Akismet and filtered into a separate “Spam” section that you don’t even have to look at. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I love the concept of pingbacks but I don’t like the way the post to the wall of the post like a comment. Is there something I can do to fix that? I love knowing that someone mentioned my post and I do go check it out – so I don’t want to do away with them completely. And when I delete them from the comments it doesn’t do anything to the link does it? I always wondered about that.

    Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun recently posted: Fun Questions | Do you get blogger ADD?
    1. That’s something that themes choose to incorporate or not. Maybe I’ll add an option for it in the next Tweak Me update.

      But deleting the pingback does not affect the original link on the other person’s blog!

  6. I always like to use pingbacks in my posts as others can read related content. And when I get a reply saying “Thank you” it always surprises me, I don’t know why, but from reading this post about them, I have a better understanding.

    Just to add; that’s on my WP. com blog – the. org one isn’t even off the ground yet so I’m glad I get pingbacks now! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Cally recently posted: Hello world!
  7. I actually knew what pingbacks are, I feel so proud. ๐Ÿ˜€

    I love it when someone finds my content useful or enjoyable and I think it’s great that I get to know when someone linked to my post. I would delete the pingbacks in the comment section if there were too many, but I don’t really see that happening anytime soon.

    I can see why you would want to turn off pingbacks if you created a meme or something similar though. If Tynga’s Reviews gets a pingback every time someone links to their Stacking the Shelves post, that might be a little annoying for example (not that I can speak for them). ๐Ÿ˜€

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