June 4, 2012 Aaron Carpenter

What does Trackback and Pingback Spam Do?

Linkbacks and Trackbacks are newer ways for bots to increase the number of links pointing back to a target website. Essentially, these bots roam the web, bouncing from site to site, posting fictitious comments that include links back to their target website. This is important because search engines treat links back to a website as credibility and will rank websites higher credibility higher in search results. On the surface, that is what is happening, but the details of the process are far more complicated.

What can you do to prevent unwanted linkbacks and trackbacks? Steps you can take to prevent Linkbacks and Trackbacks

A lot, actually. Although the bots and software are becoming ever more advanced, there are preventative measures you can take to prevent these annoyances.

  1. Manual Moderation: You can choose to moderate each specific post… which is mostly a pain for the admin and ultimately not the smartest choice unless you enjoy spending time playing with bot poo.
  2. Akisment: WordPress comes standard with Akismet, which is a solution to spam. Go to A kis met and sign up for an API key which will be used to validate your plugin (the key is mailed to you after signup) The service is free, but the developers of Akismet get increasingly giddy, the more you choose to donate.
  3. Do some Cleanup: Go back through your comments and verify the authenticity of comments. If the comment does not contribute to the article, contains gibberish, and contains a link to another website, it needs to go. Do yourself a favor and clickity-clack that delete button. Problem solved. One down, twelve trillion to go…
  4. Know Your Enemy: The whole purpose of this spam is to post links on your website, hopefully generating click-through from your users, and generating more interest from Google because of the linkbacks and pingbacks. Google isn’t stupid though. They are fully aware of this issue, and they have shown that when they frown upon a practice like this it does more harm than good in the long run.
  5. Don’t Give In: Just because all the other cool kids are doing it doesn’t mean you should too. If you know how to participate or support this activity, just do yourself a favor and don’t. You’ll feel cleaner for it tomorrow.

Alternatives to Pingback and Trackback Activity

There are several alternatives to Pingback and Trackback activities. One of my favorites is to help other web designers with link recycling. If I notice a broken link on another website, I’ll find the admin e-mail, drop them a line, and offer trading links as a courtesy for helping keep their website tidy. Everybody wins.

Another alternative is to not do it. Even in white-hat practice, it doesn’t seem like a good idea. Let it die a quick death and let the community help evolve it into some other, more usable, practice.

Additional Resources:
WordPress Trackbacks
Wikipedia – Trackback
What is a Trackback

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About the Author

Aaron Carpenter My name is Aaron Carpenter and I've been building web applications since 2002. Helping shape internet experiences for people to best match what their users are looking for, and creating web applications that become online tools to help manage businesses is what I love to do most.

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