Blog Jargon: What’s a Trackback? Permalink? Post slug? Ping?

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I was in a fantastic luncheon today with some very intelligent marketers from all over Indianapolis. Every 4 to 6 weeks we meet to discuss a new (or popular) business or marketing book. It’s a great opportunity to get out of the office and out of the details and get back to some ‘big picture’ thinking. Some of the folks are print and media, others are Internet savvy. One comment I heard today confused some of the blogging ‘jargon’. I may incorporate some of this into the E-metrics guide I’m writing, but it’s worth the blog entry, anyways:

What’s a Trackback?


Trackbacks are powerful. Here’s how it works:

  1. A blogger reads your post.
  2. He/she writes about your post and enters your “trackback” link into his trackback section in his blog post editor.
  3. Once he/she publishes his post, his blog registers that to your trackback address.

That allows you to see that someone has been writing about your post online. It’s an amazing tool because it’s non-intrusive and it’s a means of informing someone that you’ve written about or are passing along your information through their blog. Always use Trackbacks when you discuss someone’s post or blog. It’s courteous. If you’re going to write about them, you should at least give them an opportunity to respond. ;)

And, with your blog, make sure that your trackback address is always visible. You’ll find mine at the bottom left of every entry. NOTE: This post is a few years old now – you no longer need to have a trackback address for each post visible. Most trackback mechanisms now will find your trackback link automatically.

What’s a Permalink?

A permalink is a ‘permanent link’ to your post. This is a feature that may require enabling on your blog, it allows a user to specifically point to a single, textual, web address for each entry of content. For instance, the E-metrics article I mentioned above has a permalink of:

What’s a Post slug?

A post slug is a textual reference to a post. Using the above example, the post slug is blogging-e-metrics. The post slug of this post is ‘blog-jargon’. If you have numbers at the end of your post, you need to enabled Permalinks on your blog. That allows textual, hierarchical URLs to be built for each post and page in your site. This can be advantageous for search engines… using keywords in your post slugs can help! You need not worry about writing these yourselves every time, though… your blogging software should do it for you. Sometimes I like to shorten them up a little with a long title like tonight’s post!

What’s a Ping?

(Short for Pingback) Once used to simply test communications between two computers on a network, now ‘pings’ have evolved for blogging. If you have pings enabled in your blog, your blog will automatically ping the recipient service to let them know when you’ve published to your blog. That allows the search engine to then ‘crawl’ your site for content and place you accordingly. I ping 5 services out there… they may be repetitive but I’m okay with that:


These services, in turn, then track and place my content within their search engines as well as submit them to others. Make sure you have pings enabled in your site!

For more info, Wikipedia: Trackback, Permalink, Ping

Leave a Reply

  1. Yvonne: Does PingGoat have an automated ping address that I can put in WordPress?

    SeanRox: Thanks! Yes, we should continue to write these tips and tricks out. Folks need to know!

    TechZ: Pingomatic is one of the ping addresses mentioned in the post… do you use it manually as well?

  2. Yvonne: Does PingGoat have an automated ping address that I can put in WordPress?

    Nope, but you can just save a certain address as a bookmark, and then go to it whenever you’ve posted. It takes an extra one second to visit it manually. :)

  3. is it possible to use trackbacks for other reasons? I have been getting a slew of trackbacks to the same blog with weird keyswords referring to medications, so it looks really suspicious to me. I’ve been deleting them. It got to the point where it was so annoying, and happening so often, that I had to delete my trackback option. So though you talk about it being a “courtesy,” I’m wondering how it would be an abuse, because that’s what it seemed to be for my blog site (which is a cultural studies site for my students).

  4. My outgoing trackbacks have been broken on my blog for awhile.

    Does anyone know of a third party tool I could run on the blog to automatically generate trackbacks?

    • That’s interesting – I’ve not heard of that happening before. Do you have your xmlrpc.php in place? Are you getting pings out? (It utilizes the same file). You can even test them if you’d like… I think you cn post data to your page through a form to see if works.

  5. It’s something that’s borked for specific users.

    I’ve done testing and it looks like my trackbacks ARE working if I send them manually, it’s the automatic pingbacks that are broken for me.