WordPress Trackback Tutorial FAQ

Teli Adlam —  August 5, 2010

Written nearly five years ago, the WordPress Trackback Tutorial remains one of the most visited posts on this website. It was designed to help untangle the mysteries of trackbacks and pingbacks, but there were still a number of questions. This post will serve as a makeshift FAQ.

What is the difference between a trackback and a pingback?
Trackbacks and pingbacks are very similar except one is more passive than the other. With a trackback, you need to manually copy/paste the trackback URL into your blogging software; pingbacks are more passive, meaning your blog software will detect the link to another site and automatically send a "ping" to let that site know it’s been referenced in your blog entry. However, not all blogs will have pingbacks enabled by default and if you’re using WordPress, you must enable the feature to send "pings" within your admin panel.
How do I find my own trackback/pingback URL?
First, it depends on the theme you’re using. Some WordPress themes don’t make your trackback URL visible by default or will automatically hide it if your trackbacks are disabled. Generally, however, the trackback URL will be displayed on a single post just below your post’s content. Or, if you have pretty permalinks enabled, you can simply apply /trackback/ to the end of your post’s permalink. Your pingback URL is the same as your post’s permalink.
Do you put the trackback URL directly in the post?
No. The trackback URL goes in the specific trackback field specified by your blogging software, whether it be an offline tool such as Windows Live Writer (or MarsEdit) or your blog software such as WordPress.
Will I spam bloggers if I trackback and pingback or update my post?
With older versions of WordPress and other blogging tools, this was a problem, however, it was fixed a while ago. With WordPress pingbacks will take precedence over trackbacks. Other blogging software will take one over the other, usually whichever came in first (the trackback or the pingback). Also, if your blogging software keeps a record of all the pingbacked/trackbacked URLs, to avoid redundancy it won’t re-ping or re-trackback those URLs if you update your post.
My trackbacks and pingbacks aren’t showing on my site, what’s wrong?
The short answer is: I don’t know. The long answer is, there could be a number of reasons the trackbacks/pingbacks aren’t showing on your website ranging from server configuration to having trackbacks/pingbacks disabled in your blog settings to a plugin or theme which removes the display of trackbacks/pingbacks. The best solution would be to do some internal troubleshooting to diagnose the problem.
My trackbacks and pingbacks aren’t showing on the sites to which I’ve linked, what’s wrong?
Again, this falls into the category of "I don’t know". The site you’ve linked to may not have pingbacks enabled, so you may need to manually send a trackback or the site may simply have both pingbacks/trackbacks disabled, it could be experiencing a server configuration issue, or your site may be experiencing a configuration issue. Try testing a pingback/trackback to another site to see if your site properly sends out the ping or contacting the blogger directly.

I’m sure I may have missed a question or two, but the vast majority have fallen into the category above. If you have a question about trackbacks/pingbacks that isn’t covered in the trackback tutorial itself (I recommend reading through the comments since many questions were asked and answered) or the post above, ask.

Teli Adlam