What are Trackbacks?

by Unbalanced Libra | 8/26/2008 08:20:00 AM in |

Trackbacks are a bit difficult to explain but I'll do my best! Basically, they automate the interlinking of blog posts, but don't necessarily help with search engine ranking. However, they are still very valuable to have!

Here's the breakdown:
It 's like getting a comment, except not on your blog. Suppose you write something I feel is worth *talking* about, so I decide to write an entry about it on my blog.
I will include an excerpt or quote from your post and include a link in my entry to your blog post. That, my friends, is better than getting a comment!

What many don't know is that your blog platform - whether it is WordPress, Blogger/Blogspot or Movable Type or TypePad, scans all the links in a post each time a post is published.
It finds my link to your post and then goes out to your blog and checks to see if your post is accepting trackbacks.
If so, my blog sends a little Ping! to your blog. It's communicating to your blog that you're being discussed elsewhere.
Your blog then makes a little note on that particular post that *remembers* this. Besides the comments it's receiving, it notes that someone is talking about that post on their site.

Are you still with me? Well, the good thing is, you really don't need to know HOW trackbacks work in order to use them. All you need to do is set a post to be able to receive trackbacks and make sure you set your blog to send them when you publish new posts.
Your blog platform should do all the work and email you when there are new trackbacks - just like it does when there are new comments to a post.

Okay, so what's the difference between trackbacks and backlinks?


TrackBacks were developed by SixApart as a standard of notification between blogs of links.

Before TrackBacks, if you wrote about something someone else wrote, the only way the other blog would know would be to run across your blog, or you tell them (via email, for instance). If the other blog chose to let its readers know, the post could be manually edited to reflect the link. That is so old school!

TrackBacks allowed for you to send information to a special URL (Web address) that would receive the information, then automatically include the information about your link with the post.

TrackBacks are manually sent.


Google uses some fancy algorithm to help rank Web sites. One of the pieces of the puzzle is the number of links to a site or a page. So, Google scans Web pages including blogs, for links. Since Google owns Blogger, they can use their scan information with the Blogger service.

Downside for Blogger/Blogspot users:
One of the most popular free blogging services, Blogger, doesn't support TrackBacks. Blogger blogs that want TrackBacks on their site were forced to use a third party, such as HaloScan, to offer TrackBacks.

And that's still the case, BUT Blogger has taken the concepts of TrackBacks down a different path. Blogger offers something called "Backlinks," which I just explained =)

The difference is the method of notification, including how quickly links appear.

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