How Trackbacks Work – Brian’s Practical Explanation

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Wed, Feb 28 - 8:10 pm EDT | 8 years ago by
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I’ve had experts explain trackbacks. I’ve read various explanations of blogging trackbacks, such as this on Wikipedia. But for quite a while I found it a challenge to bridge the gap between the theory, which I understood well enough, early enough (it’s not rocket-science), and the practice.

I think it’s the nature of the blogosphere that there are always new things competing for our attention. But I did figure out early on that trackbacks were one element of the blogging process that it made sense to get a handle on and apply effectively. Not that I’ve done that consistently, but one of the benefits of having done some homework for this post is that I’ve recognised that I can make much better use of trackbacks than I’ve been doing to date.

There is an excellent, practical explanation of trackbacks, with an illustration that happens to draw on a trackback from another blog of mine, on Brian Brown’s always informative Pajama Market blog.

In that post, Brian cuts to the chase, by-passing techie type definitions and showing how trackbacks actually work. And the post is one in a series of “blogging dos”: in other words, it’s not just a curiosity of blogging but something any business blogger needs to know how to handle.

For the sake of anyone new to blogging, I think it’s worth mentioning at this point that when I first started blogging, one of the many things that confused me was the difference between trackbacks and permalinks. They are similar but not the same. There was and is really no need to get confused: they have different structures and therefore look different.

Without going into a lot of detail, and helpfully for us non-techies, the permalink does not have the word “trackback” in it.

There is a fairly detailed explanation of trackbacks in the WordPress Codex, with some historical background, within the item Introduction to Blogging.

For WordPress users, Teli Adlam has this helpful trackback tutorial – posted  December 2005, so there may be some adjustment needed for more recent versions of WordPress. Note what it said about activating the feature for pingbacks. Although ironically, and just to make it clear that the whole trackback thing is not always totally transparent in practice, I have searched the trackbacks tutorial post and can’t find a trackback link. So it will be interesting to see if the automatic pinging which I have activated on this blog will deliver a trackback to Teli Adlam’s OptiNiche Blog. If someone can see something I’ve missed I would love to know.

But for anyone just interested in the practical application of trackbacks I would commend Brian’s post as the first point of reference and perhaps the only one necessary.

 

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  • http://www.optiniche.com/ Teli Adlam

    Hi Des,
    You’ve written up a nice entry.

    I wanted to pop in and say thanks for the mention and link love. Your pingback was received and approved; I deliberately removed the trackback link from the blog (though, I did mention it in a comment :)). It’s because, generally, I only open trackback/pingback on a post by post basis.

    Also, not much has changed since the article was written, so it still applies and many questions have been answered in the comments.

    ~ Teli

  • http://blog.trieditmyself.com Jose

    Des,

    Thanks for your insite into the trackback issue. This is something that I’ve been a bit curious about.

    I will follow your recomendation and read Brian’s post on the subject.

    Jose

  • Pingback: Business and Blogging - New Blog With Zing, From Big Sky Country

  • http://www.pajamamarket.com Brian

    Thank you very much for the kind words, Des. Not only have you boosted my ego to new heights, but you’ve given me a subject for a new post in the near future…permalinks!