A pingback, in the world of blogs and content management systems like WordPress, is a method of notifying and linking two websites that refer to each other. Pingbacks allow blog or website owners to automatically receive a notification when another website links to one of their posts. This notification is then usually displayed as a comment under the post in question, with a preview of the linking website and its URL attached.
How do pingbacks work?
Pingbacks are based on the XML-RPC interface and use the HTTP web protocol for communication. When a link is added to a website A from a website B, website B sends an XML-RPC request to website A to inform it about the link. Website A then checks the link linking back and decides whether or not to create a pingback comment.
Advantages of pingbacks
- Automatic linking: Pingbacks allow blog owners to be notified automatically about new links to their content without having to manually search for links.
- Network setup: By allowing pingbacks to respond to other sites that refer to one's own post, cross-blog communication can be encouraged and a network can be built.
- Increase visibility: Pingbacks can help increase a website's visibility by exposing both inbound and outbound links. However, they are not directly relevant for search engine optimization (SEO), as most content management systems mark pingbacks as nofollow links.
Disadvantages and misuse of pingbacks
Unfortunately, pingbacks are also often abused to spread unwanted comments and spam. Cybercriminals can use automated scripts to send a large number of pingback requests to promote spam or phishing websites. For this reason, many blog owners have now disabled pingbacks or rely on alternative methods of link notification, for example using Google Alerts or dedicated SEO tools.