What is a Blog Trackback?
If you’ve been around the blogging world for any length of time, you may have come into contact with something called a trackback. Trackbacks in general are a greatly underused blogging feature; however, when used properly and with the correct “etiquette” they are potentially very powerful. In this post we explain what they are, why they’re important and how to use them in EasyBlog.
What is a Trackback?
Trackbacks in the blogging world provide a way to simultaneously drive more traffic to your own site and build up some good online relationships by tipping your hat to another author and their content. In order to use a trackback, both blogs involved must be set up for this capability. Software such as EasyBlog makes using trackback URLs easy. In fact, you can communicate with blogs running on nearly any platform, including WordPress and many others, so long as both blog owners have enabled this feature.
In the strict sense, a trackback is simply a URL that identifies a specific blog post to other blog posts. It also enables blogging software to communicate with each other through “pings” when related posts are published. When an author writes an article either related to or in direct response to another post, a trackback URL allows the new article to notify the original post that it exists.
How are they used?
Sounds a bit confusing, but the basic mechanics of a trackback work a bit as follows:
Food blog author Richard creates a blog post on a particular topic, let’s say homemade pizza. When Richard writes this post, he includes a trackback URL to make it easy for others to connect with his content.
Robert writes a blog on the best imported cheese, and while reading through his favorite blogs he sees Richard’s post on homemade pizza. Robert sees this is a perfect opportunity to feature a great use for fancy, imported cheese, so he grabs Richard’s trackback link and includes it in his next blog post about using imported Feta while making homemade pizza.
Now, when Robert publishes his Feta cheese post, Richard, and all of Richard’s readers, are also notified about Robert’s new article. So, Robert’s audience gets access to Richard’s post, and Richard’s audience is introduced to Robert. But most importantly here, a relationship has been created. This could go on and on with authors sharing trackbacks again and again.
It's very common for a blogger to write an article based on another blog post simply because they see a great opportunity for using a trackback link. It’s also become very common to abuse these URLs in SPAM.
Trackbacks can look substantially different on various blog layouts and platforms. Sometimes they will be listed directly within the comment list, which gets a bit confusing for some readers, and other times they will be separated out into lists at the end of the comment section. You can usually tell a trackback in a comment list as it’s normally enclosed in square brackets and may seem a bit out of context in terms of wording. Lists often just look something like this:
How to set up trackbacks in EasyBlog
EasyBlog comes with a built in trackback option which you’ll find in the settings in the Administrator of Joomla. When you set it to Yes, you allow other content authors to ping you back with notifications based on an auto generated URL that’s displayed with each of your blog posts. You can reach the option by going to Components - EasyBlog - Settings. You’ll then see a Trackbacks section in the top right.
Once that setting has been enabled, you’ll see your trackback URLs in each of your blog posts like this:
Obviously, the exact display will depend on your template, but it will be clear to your readers, and other writers, what this is for. Similarly, this is exactly what you will be looking for when you are writing posts to link to through their trackback URL.
Once you have found a suitable article, and it has a trackback URL for you to use, you’ll include that link in the article that you publish in EasyBlog. This couldn’t be simpler to do. When you’re creating your new post you simply paste the URL into the trackback window and you’re off.
In the front end editor of EasyBlog, it looks like this:
Now, when you publish your new post, you’ll be creating relationships with other writers, expanding your audience and developing new traffic all at the same time. In the opening, I referred to using proper “etiquette” with trackbacks, and what this means is that you first of all need to choose the blog posts that you trackback very carefully. Make sure you don’t overdo it or you will look like a spammer. Also, trackbacking a very large, very popular blog most likely won’t get you noticed at first. Think of this is building a reputation through real conversation. Find similar blogs that have a reasonable audience and recommend its author to your readers as well.
This kind of real communication is where the web shines. Sharing useful information and building a community must happen naturally, but when you build up a good network of writers to share with, your voice can be heard with almost exponential growth.
This guest post was written by Richard Pearce of Build a Joomla Website.