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How to End Trackback Spam in WordPress

Do you want to put an end to trackback spam on your WordPress website? Trackbacks and pingbacks are closely related and are normally a good thing. Unfortunately, it has become harder for websites to generate traffic as more competition is created every day. This has caused many websites to start using multiple trackbacks to try and help them gain traffic.

Eventually, this has lead to outright spam which can be very annoying to larger websites. To combat this, many larger websites will turn off all trackbacks and pingbacks on their website. This will successfully eliminate spam, but you will also lose any of the benefits as well. Today, I will demonstrate how to end trackback spam and mitigate it by using plugins like Akismet.

Trackbacks vs Pingbacks

One cannot talk about trackbacks without talking about pingbacks at the same time. In fact, you will see that disabling one of them disables the other as well. A trackback is generated by copying another websites trackback URL and using it as a link on their website. The website will be notified that they are being linked. A pingback happens when a website links to another website. The website that is being linked to will get a notification through their theme. As you can probably already imagine, a very popular website will get hundreds, if not thousands of trackbacks and pingbacks a day. Spamming these can increase the amount dramatically.

Why Spam Trackbacks and Pingbacks

Trackbacks and pingbacks are a great way for a smaller or newer website to gain a little traction. By mentioning and linking to very popular content, which will create trackbacks and pingbacks, the website will be able to take advantage of the popularity of those websites. So by using multiple trackbacks and pingbacks, you are increasing the chances of your website gaining popularity.

This creates a mindset that spamming popular content links from a popular website will raise the popularity of the website doing it. New and struggling websites will use any advantage possible to get noticed and spamming trackbacks and pingbacks becomes the norm. This happens in almost every industry. Think about movies, video games, television, YouTube, etc. The moment something becomes extremely popular, the rest of the industry will rush to copy it or put their own spin on it.

How to End Trackback Spam in WordPress

Today, I will demonstrate how to end trackback spam and mitigate it by using plugins like Akismet. If you are larger website the benefits from participating in trackbacks and pingbacks is quite small and might actually be more problematic than rewarding while smaller and medium-sized websites will still see benefits that outweigh the spamming. They will also be less likely to see someone spamming trackbacks and pingbacks on their website. For these websites, mitigation is a better option.

Putting An End to Trackbacks and Pingbacks

Stopping Trackbacks will also stop pingbacks because WordPress has one on and off switch for both of them. This is a two-step process because you must first turn them off for your new content. Then you must go back to old content and turn them off. This can be performed in a bulk action, so don’t be afraid if you have a lot of older content.

On the left-hand admin panel, click on Settings and select the Discussion option. This is the same location that allows you to change things like comment settings and avatars.

click on Settings and select the Discussion option.

Under the default article settings section, you will see three checkboxes. The first box will alert other websites when other blogs are being linked to your content. You may want to disable this to avoid being the spammer, but they can choose to turn off their own notifications as well. The second box will turn off all trackback and pingback notifications. Uncheck this box.

Uncheck this box.

This will ensure that any new content you create will not generate any notifications. Most of your notifications will come from older content. On the left-hand admin panel, click on Posts and select the All Posts option.

click on Posts and select the All Posts option. 

Now it’s time to select all of your articles. Depending on how many you have this can be hard. At the top of the screen, click on Screen Options. Change the Number of items per page to a very large number, like 999 or the number of posts you have. This will display every post on the same page. Click on the checkbox next to Title to select all of your posts.

Click on the checkbox next to Title to select all of your posts.

Under Bulk Actions, select the Edit option. Click the “Apply” button.

Click the "Apply" button.

On the right side of the page, you will see a Pings drop down box. Change it to “Do Not Allow” to stop trackback and pingback notifications. Click on the “Update” button to save your work.

Change it to "Do Not Allow" to stop trackback and pingback notifications.

Mitigate Spam

Medium and small-sized websites will not face the same amount of spam that larger websites will see. This is because they are less popular. At the same point, it can be quite beneficial to see who is sending trackbacks and pingbacks. This allows for you to return trackbacks and pingbacks. This can help your website, as well as the other, grow simultaneously. Plugins can help your website mitigate spam and here are a few that can help.

Akismet

Akismet

All WordPress websites come with Akismet built in. It is the most popular anti-spam plugin available, which is why it is active by default. Most websites will use it to block comment spam, but it also blocks trackback spam. It is very easy to set up and no website should run without it.

Topsy Blocker

Topsy Blocker

Topsy Blocker is a great choice and is specifically made to block trackback notifications. This plugin will allow you to select which trackbacks are spam. This is great because you can specifically block websites that are spamming you while keeping real notifications.

Keep Your Website Spam Free

Running a website is hard enough without having to worry about spam attacks. The issue with trackback and pingback spam is that sometimes, it is an honest mistake, while other times it is intentional. Every website at some point will reference or link to another website and that is a good thing. It helps everyone grow and shows that other websites agree or disagree with your point.

Saying you need an anti-spam software in WordPress is an understatement. Do not think they are optional. You will receive spam in some way no matter what. The Internet is not a kind place and most of these will be intentional. Spam can make you miss other important notifications. Creating an organized work environment is essential to growth.

Have you turned off all trackback and pingback notifications? Which plugin do you use to keep spam free?

Author: Ron Helms

I currently work for GreenGeeks as a Support Technician. My primary roles are supporting our VPS and Dedicated server clients, as well as performing site migrations. With experience in the web hosting industry since 2009, there is rarely a question I can’t help answer. In my spare time, I enjoy gaming and working on cars as an automotive enthusiast.

Updated on February 14, 2018

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