The History and Purpose of Getting Trackbacks

Before people ever discovered that something like trackbacks might be valuable for SEO purposes, there was the original purpose.Understanding why trackbacks were created in the first place will help in the ongoing web-wide discussion about follow vs. no-follow and the debate over whether a link is worth getting if Google doesn’t give you any credit for it.

What Are Trackbacks and Why Do They Exist?

Trackbacks were created by blog software programmers to help bloggers easily link to each other and get credit for doing so with automation. Rather than writing about someone else’s blog post on your site and then writing to them to let them know you just linked to their post and asking for the possibility of them linking back to you, trackbacks automate the process.

Don’t know what a trackback is? Check out my video on how to do a trackback. And see TrackBoost.

Before people realized that trackbacks could be used for SEO, bloggers used them for the direct traffic trackback links would send them from the blogs they comment on. Not in the comments area on that blogger’s site, but remotely.

Trackbacks are sort of like “remote comments” in that, the blog you are linking to gets notified automatically that you’ve linked to a particular post and the blogger gets the same email they would had you commented directly on their blog that a comment is awaiting moderation.

They check it out and see that you’ve done a trackback.

They come to your post through the link and see that you’ve been flattering them by linking directly to their latest post in your post and explaining why you liked their post.

They go back to their moderation area and approve your trackback and it shows up in the comments area with all the other comments on that particular post you linked to.

Other readers get into the discussion on that blog, see your trackback and click the link to see what you had to say about this post. Not all, but some will do this.

That was, and still should be, the #1 reason to do a trackback above all else.

I have said thousands of times in hundreds of trainings, all my reports and books on the subject of linking, and on this blog that links are for TRAFFIC first and that any SEO benefit you might get from them is a supplemental bonus to a well rounded linking campaign. NOT the entire goal of one.

If you visit someone’s blog and they seem overly concerned about doing trackbacks only on blogs that have no-follow turned off, take that as a hint that they might not know much of what they are talking about, or at least, they have an unnatural obsession with search engines that makes their marketing campaign unhealthy and less productive for their business.

People who only look for links on sites with “follow” links are missing the point in spades. I mean they are really, seriously under a severe misconception about what linking is for.

I don’t pay any attention whatsoever to no follow and I don’t spend all day looking at peoples’ source code to detect it. It is a complete and utter waste of time to do so. This site and my traffic is proof of that.

I get links and give links based on content that will help my readers and from places where my target reader surfs. Period. End of story. Follow or no follow, it truly doesn’t matter.

The moment I stopped paying attention to every little thing Google does to rank sites, the better my site started ranking.

The things I pay attention to where SEO is concerned are simply:

1. Serving my visitors relevant, high quality content as much as possible. This makes my average pageviews go up and Google doesn’t like high bounce rates. They like to see long visits and multi-page visits to determine the value of your site to visitors.

2. I write sensible but optimized titles for my posts. If you want to score for a keyword, it had better be in the title of your post and early in the content of that post. Here you can get into serious debate over keyword density and all kinds of other things, but following this basic rule will get you far down the road before you have to worry about density. I don’t calculation density because I am writing for my readers. If the keyword gets used the “proper” amount of times it is only because it was necessary to tell the story.

3. Getting links. I get all kinds and from whatever places have resonant content to mine or surfers that are the perfect target for my content, products and services. Many are links that Google follows. Many are certainly not. I can’t be sure the exact number because I don’t care. I get links. Period. I get links because of the real or potential direct traffic they provide. Any search engine justice I get from any links I pick up is merely a symptom of a good marketing campaign. Not the entire focus.

Trackbacks Are For Traffic!

Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the debate over follow vs. no follow. It serves no purpose but to sap your time and energy. If you land on a blog that clearly has good readership and traffic and you want to do a post pointing your visitors to a great post on that blog, but you find that the blogger uses no follow, DO IT ANYWAY!

Are you going to miss out on all the potential traffic that blogger can send you just because Google won’t give you credit for the link? I certainly hope not! But thousands of people are hung up on that fact and are missing the forest for the trees!

I see people doing trackbacks to bloggers with do follow but no traffic! They actually think that’s better than doing a trackback on a blog with no follow but a ton of readers.

Listen, Google ALSO pays attention to how popular a site is in real visitors. If you are linked from a site that is do follow that gets no traffic and never gets popular, how much is that going to be worth to you in pagerank and link juice anyway?

Forget the fact that everyone should have do follow. That cat is out of the bag and the people who chose to go the no follow route, as ridiculous as it is, have made a choice that you cannot change.

Just Get Links!

Get them from social sites (many of which Google doesn’t follow links from even if the site itself is do follow!). Get them from high, medium, and low traffic sites. Get them from anywhere and everywhere your target market surfs.

Stay away from bad neighborhoods. Check out who you are linking TO and where you are getting links FROM. Don’t be a link whore. Just be natural in the way you pick where you get link love and keep it relevant so that the traffic you get is targeted to your content and products.

Everything else works itself out just fine, trust me. This is how I do it and it’s obviously working out well for me.

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Jack Humphrey

I've been free and thriving as a "digital nomad" for 20 years. And I've helped tens of thousands of people along the way to build and grow businesses that enable them to cut their own trail in life outside the conventional birth-school-work-grave life cycle so many are unfortunate to have to endure. If you meet me soon enough, your cycle could be birth-school-freedom. But it's never too late to break the cycle, either! If you are ready to take your business higher while increasing the time you have for living your biggest life, I just might be able to help you out.