- Search Engine Optimisation

Engineering your site higher in the Search Rankings

Trackbacks, what they are and how they work.

Trackbacks are part of a fairly complex set of network interfaces so I am trying here to put them in simplified terms that can be understood by non-IT people.   Apologies to the purists out there that think I’ve skipped a few details, but it’s not meant for us who know, it’s meant for those who don’t.

So, simply put, a trackback is an automated notification that is sent to someone else’s web-site (normally a blog) anytime you reference their blog in a post on your site.

For example, say someone writes a post on the NACHI Message Board (which is actually based upon a Blog system called vBulletin) and you want to comment on it, but don’t want to be bombarded with responses that are off-track, off-topic or otherwise meaningless to you, you write a Blog on your own service and link it to the post on NACHI.  With trackbacks enabled, this will send a “trackback” to NACHI.  This identifies two things:

  1.  Then you have linked to the NACHI Message-board, but more importantly
  2. That the message board has a link back to your site.

The second part of this equation means that people reading the NACHI message-board will be able to follow that track-back to your site, and more importantly, so will the search engines.

Trackbacks and Search Engines

If the blog post you write on your site then has multiple trackbacks to your own site somewhere in it, the search engines will also follow those.  This creates a multiple link list in the Search Engines algorithmic system that will escalate your site in the rankings for the terms (both in your text and in the meta-data attached to it).

Remember you can only trackback to open sections of the NACHI site, otherwise you are breaking the ‘Terms of Use’ and ‘Code of Ethics’ of InterNACHI.

So by sending a trackback, you are create a link back to your blog, which takes a very small amount of time to do when considering the benefits of it.

Trackbacks vs. Hyperlinks

A trackback link on your blog is different from a hyperlink on your blog in that you’re not manually inserting trackbacks into your posts, it is something that your site services must be able to do as an automated function.

It’s not as simple as that, of course coming from me you knew that was going to be the case.

A hyperlink depends upon a person reading a blog to actually “click” on the hypelink to establish the link from one site to another.  Trackbacks work on a series of bi-directional network “pings” that establish an automatic connection between sites.

In the above simplified example, where it says:

  1. The you have linked to the NACHI Message-board

What really happens is that the NACHI board can list all sites that have referenced a post on the site.  This allows visitors to read ALL related posts to the NACHI post even if they are not on the NACHI site.   Where the statement above says:

  1. That the message board has a link back to your site.

It means this is an EXPLICIT link that is automated, and doesn’t required outside action.

This is why Trackbacks are so good at elevating the ranking of sites in the search engines.  It’s because this automated link provides a mechanisms for the search engines to flow through a post on a site and automatically detect other posts connected.  To a search engine, again very simply put, your post looks as though it is an extension of the original.  If the site you posted a trackback to is really high in the search engine rankings, your site will get an elevation because of that linkage.

Building a trackback.

Building a trackback in code is not easy.  This is why when you choose the means for developing a website, you have to decide what you want that site to be used for.  If it’s your main portal to the outside world, then it is best to go for a system that provides Search Engine Optimisation as automatically as possible.

InterNACHI’s vBulletin system allows it, this is a commercial product you need to pay for.

If you wish to build your site taking advantage of these SEO engineering marvels, then WordPress, Moveable Type, Drupal and Joomla platforms are all open-source and free to own products that have trackback capabilities either built in or available as a free plugin.

OntarioACHI uses WordPress as its main portal, as this not only has the options for trackbacks but the plugins we use fully support many other SEO options too.

About Len Inkster

Len is an accomplished consultant with a strong background in root-cause-analysis and education. Coming from both an Information Systems Security and Construction background Len is an all-rounder. Len's Inspection skills range from Home Inspections to Mould, Radon, and other Indoor Air Quality consultancy services, as well as Asbestos identification and sampling services. Although fully capable, Len has consistently refused to provide remediation services on the basis that to provide inspection services and remediation services is, in his eyes, a serious conflict of interest. You can call Len at (289) 214-7531 or email him at leni @ fppi.ca
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