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Blogging: Advantages Of Trackback Instead Of Comments

By gerardmcgarry on 11th November 2005, filed in Blogging, Web Design & Standards. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

I run a couple of different blogs in my spare time. In the course of building up traffic for those blogs, and contributing to the community in general, I will comment on posts that are relevant to me. Comments show my interest and/or knowledge about a given topic, and importantly provide a link back to my website which can:

  1. increase my website ranking in search engines
  2. encourage other readers to click through to my homepage

However, recently I???ve found myself spending too much time writing comments at the expense of blogging. In a way, it???s almost like giving away quality posts in other people???s comments.

But there is an alternative. Trackback.

What Is Trackback?

TrackBack is a mechanism used in a blog to show, around an entry, a list of other blogs that refer to it.

What Trackback Does In A Nutshell

Here’s an example: I discovered a great blog post about how trackback works this morning. Normally I would leave a comment on the original blog, but I want to let readers of my blog know about this too. What do I do?

Basically, I write my own piece about trackback, citing the post which inspired me and discussing my opinion of it/offering an alternative point of view. When I publish the post, my blog software sends out a trackback ping (which notifies the other blog that I’ve written something related to that article). Now, not only have I given my readers some unique content, but the original blog will show a summary of what I’ve written and a link back to my site.

This achieves a number of things:

  1. I have created a new article, giving my regular readers fresh content. If I’d simply commented on the original blog, my readers would have been unlikely to know.
  2. I have added to the discussion on the original blog by providing a reference to further reading on that topic, so I have contributed to the originating blog.
  3. Providing a back-link from my website gives the author due credit for his/her work on the original post.
  4. Readers of either blog may click through for more information. If they like the content of the site, the style of writing or whatever else, they may become repeat visitors.
  5. If I had commented, the link back to my website would have been to my site homepage. By using Trackback, a relevant link is established between the two documents. This should have a positive impact on search engine optimisation for both websites.
  6. Finally – this is a petty one – by using Trackback, I didn’t have to enter my details into a comment form for the millionth time!

More About Trackback

If you’ve got a blog, Tom Coates’ introductory article (linked to above) is an excellent starter, as is the Trackback definition on Wikipedia. Pinyo at GreatNexus has recently posted about Trackback Hunting. Pinyo suggests that Trackback is an essential link-building technique and brings in more targetted traffic than a simple comment might. He goes on to talk about seeking out quality references to trackback to from your own posts as a means of generating quality links to your site, and uses tools such as Technorati and Google to find the appropriate sources.

When To Trackback, When To Comment

Will I use Trackback exclusively from now on? No. Not every blog post I see warrants a full-blown post on my site. Besides, some blogs don’t use Trackback functionality and the blog owner might decide to delete your Trackback for some reason.

Comments will always be great for giving a short, sharp opinion on a topic.

However, if you’re finding your comments flowing over into three or four paragraphs, then perhaps it’s time to put your thoughts on your own blog and do the trackback thing. If not, you’re giving away good content.

6 Responses to “Blogging: Advantages Of Trackback Instead Of Comments”

  1. Pinyo said on November 29th, 2005 at 1:58 am :

    Hi Gerard/Lisa. This is a good post on Trackback. I especially liked the 6 points you’ve made about why trackback is better than comment.

  2. Dealing with Foreign Language Comments and Trackbacks | GreatNexus Webmaster Blog said on November 29th, 2005 at 6:18 am :

    […] Note 1: Apparently, Google Toolbar for FireFox 1.5 is now available. I discovered this as I was looking up the URL of the Toolbar site. I must have missed the news. Note 2: Talking about trackback. There is a really excellent post at Scribble Designs called Blogging: Advantages Of Trackback Instead Of Comments. I recommend that you give it a read. […]

  3. Hans said on November 29th, 2005 at 10:31 am :

    But what do I do when I use as a blogging tool, which doesn’t support trackback? I always cite with links in my posts though.

  4. Business Woman said on December 3rd, 2005 at 12:49 am :

    I heard that there are a lot of problems with Track Back’s security options. It’s said not to be secure enough. And spammers can easily take an advantage of it.

  5. Gerard McGarry said on December 3rd, 2005 at 4:51 pm :

    I rarely get trackback spam compared with comment spam on my blogs. Granted, a bogus trackback can appear without warning and be a potential embarrassment until it is discovered and deleted.

    If you’re a WordPress user, bear in mind that trackbacks and pings from other blogs can be switched off in the options. I’m sure the same is true for other platforms.

  6. Pinyo said on December 3rd, 2005 at 5:43 pm :

    WP allows you to moderate trackbacks before they appear.