Trackbacks and Pings

Google increases your page rank by counting links to your site. Trackbacks are other sites validating your content. Trackbacks started as a way for one blog to inform its readers that they may be interested in this content from another blog and to let the other site know "hey, I talked about your content and here's the link.'' They can basically be thought of as comments about your content on a remote site.

By default, WordPress groups comments and trackbacks together, further validating that they are remote comments, but this can often look messy to your reader. A common practice is to separate out the trackbacks from the actual comments in the comment loop. The Sandbox theme does this for you in the default templates using the get_comment_type () function:

<?php if ( get_comment_type() == "comment" ) {

<?php if ( get_comment_type() != "comment" ) {

The comments will have to be walked in two foreach loops: one for the actual comments and one for the trackbacks. You can review the Sandbox comments.php template file for more information. What this gets you is a clear separation between the active discussion on your site, for your visitors to participate in, and a list of related sites that have also mentioned your content. They can be divided logically and visually, making it easier to digest for the visitor.

Alternatively you could accomplish similar functionality using the built in WordPress functions for listing comments, like so:

wp_list_comments(array('type' => 'comment')); wp_list_comments(array('type' => 'pings'));

Trackbacks must be enabled in the Discussion Settings Administration dashboard as discussed in Chapter 2.

Pings, on the other hand, notify other sites when new information is published. Generally your WordPress site would ping an update service, such as Ping-o-Matic, that you have new content on your site. Likewise, if you are writing about content on another WordPress site, your site may ping that other site to let it know about your content. In this respect, pings are similar to trackbacks.

Pinging update services is a good way to drive traffic to your site. Some sites take the information from these update services and create information link sites about them. The theory is that casual surfers of these sites may discover your content related to a topic they are browsing. In this respect, pinging works very much like a push version of RSS or tweeting your new blog posts.

Signing up to use an update service like Ping-o-matic is really simple to do. Simply browse to their site at http: / / pingomatic. com/ sign up your site and it starts working. There is not much to it.

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