I’ve been getting questions asking for clarity on what are trackbacks exactly as this is a term which gets tossed around among webmasters particularly when referring to blogs but rarely gets explained in any amount of depth.
A trackback is basically a link based way of notifying another blog/webmaster that you are referencing on your blog something which they wrote on their blog.
So if you are writing a post on horse breeding and you know of a great post on someone else’s blog for example pertaining to horse breeding, then you can include a special link to that post within yours known as a trackback.
In the latest versions of WordPress, all you’ve generally got to do is simply link to the post which you want and the process takes care of itself as opposed to locating the special trackback link code of the other webmaster’s post which you want to reference like you used to have to do.
This is often referred to as a pingback but essentially works towards the same effect. Keep in mind this is primarily for just creating trackbacks between two WordPress blogs.
While you can assume that most WordPress blogs are enabled and equipped for pingbacks, if you are concerned you can do a quick search within their site’s code for “pingback” to confirm.
Trackbacks are beneficial for a number of reasons which vary depending on whether you’re giving or receiving the trackback.
If you are creating/giving a trackback by linking to another webmaster’s content, then you can get the attention and perhaps positive interest of that webmaster towards building a relationship with them (which you should always be doing) because other webmasters like receiving links and like to see their content referenced by other webmasters.
Additionally, you can get a little bit of that webmaster’s traffic through the link if those readers are interested in more information on that topic via your post.
On some blogs, trackbacks are listed even above the comment section following a post, so if you create a quick trackback shortly after their post goes live, then much like blog commenting you can secure that top spot and enjoy the extra traffic which goes with the extra exposure of being listed first.
Conversely, if a webmaster creates a trackback to a post on your site, then not only will you get valuable traffic from that webmaster’s post because you’re being listed as an authority (hence the trackback to your content), but also you’ll get valuable one way link juice coming from their site, as well.
If you’re creating the trackback, you can check to see if it was successful within minutes as it appears on the linked-to post.
Remember that just like with comments, trackbacks can also be moderated and deleted at the trackbacked webmaster’s will.
In summation, trackbacks are great ways to reference great content and build relationships with other webmasters in your field, so use them whenever you find good content worth linking to within your posts and remember that like with anything else, good content gets linked to more than anything else, so let that be your focus regardless of what you are doing.
Check out my posts on types of links and how to build backlinks for SEO for more information on link building.