What Is a Trackback?

Updated on March 08, 2018

What is a Trackback?

You might have heard of the term trackback being discussed and whether or not you need them. But what is a trackback exactly? A trackback is a way to manually notify older blogging systems that you have linked to one of their posts. In turn the other post may choose to link to your work in a “mentioned by” – or similar – section. These are not to be confused with pingbacks.

what is a trackback

Do I need To Use Trackbacks?

On the surface trackbacks sound great. They allow you to communicate and make yourself known in the community. On top of all that, they give you traffic and incoming links which should be great for SEO.

Unfortunately, the downsides far outweigh the upsides. Trackbacks you receive (people linking to your content) will mostly be spam. You will need to moderate these or use a plugin like Akismet to do this for you.

By far the biggest issue with trackbacks is that no one uses them. Almost all high traffic sites – from which incoming links would actually matter – block trackbacks.

How To Use Trackbacks

All criticism aside, if your community or area of expertise tends to use trackbacks follow the steps below to enable and use them on your site.

1. Enable the trackback section

At the top of the screen when editing a post there should be a “Screen Options” tab. Click the tab to view the screen options and click the checkbox next to “Send Trackbacks”.

Trackback view setting in WordPress screen options section

Trackback view setting in WordPress screen options section

Once enabled WordPress will remember your preferences and the trackback module will be displayed on all post edit screens.

2. Find the trackback URL

If the website uses trackbacks, the post you are linking to will have a trackback URL somewhere. It is up to the website owner to implement this feature so it will vary from website-to-website. Look for a link titled “trackback” or “trackback url”. Copy the URL the link points to.

3. Fill out the trackback module

Once you’ve enabled the trackback module, scroll down to find it under the post editor. Paste the trackback URL into the text field.

The trackback field filled out

The trackback field filled out

If you want to notify more than one website, separate trackback URLs with spaces.

4. Save the post

Once everything has been set up, save your post and the trackback will be sent to the given location.

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