Keeping Track: Using Trackbacks to Build Blog Community

use trackbacks build blog communityHave I mentioned that I love Google Analytics? You can learn so much about your site from the data they give you.

Did you know that you can also use Google Analytics to help you build your blog community? Here’s how:

Find Your Trackbacks in Analytics

Log in to Google Analytics. (I’m assuming you already have Analytics set up on your site. If you don’t, it’s pretty simple to do and they walk you through it pretty well. However, if you get stuck, email me using my contact form at the top of this page and I’ll help you get it working.)

Click on your blog’s website data. Choose Traffic Sources, then Social, then Trackbacks.

google analytics trackback

Trackbacks are basically backlinks to your site. If someone links to your site in their blog or on their website, it will show up here. Links generated by the CommentLuv plugin will also show up here, so don’t get confused if you see a lot of those. That just means you’re getting the benefit of the backlinks.

You can see if anyone’s used that link to click through to your site. You can also click the “More” button on the right to view the page on your site that was linked to, or view the actual Trackback.

Use Trackbacks to Build Community

How does this help build community? You can make it a habit to check your Trackbacks periodically. Use the View Trackback option under the More button to visit any trackbacks you’ve got. If you can, leave a comment thanking the person for linking to your blog. If at all possible, add to the discussion they’ve got going on.

By doing this, you develop connections with other bloggers. You also get a chance to show the readers on other blogs that you know your stuff and are approachable.

What if you don’t have any trackbacks yet?

You can’t force someone to link to you. Well, you could, but it would probably require various unethical or even illegal activities that I just don’t recommend. Bribery is only an option if you have a big budget.

I feel like I ought to put a smiley face at the end of that paragraph or something. I was just kidding, folks. Really.

Barring threats, bribery, or blackmail, here’s what I’d suggest: Link to other people when you have an opportunity. If you feel like it, drop them a comment and say, “Hey, I loved this article and shared it with my readers here.” Write really good posts about topics that are useful to your readers. And then, the big step: don’t worry about it. It’s out of your control.

But if you do get trackbacks? Don’t hesitate to drop in, say thanks, and add to the conversation where you can.

Do you check your trackbacks? If so, do you ever drop in to the linking blog and say thanks? What about linking to other blogs? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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14 thoughts on “Keeping Track: Using Trackbacks to Build Blog Community

  1. ooh thanks for this, wonderful. I will go check. I use jetpack for wordpress, will have to see if that has it too.
    Kate recently posted…One Technique That Helps With InsomniaMy Profile

    • You’re welcome, Kate! I don’t think Jetpack shows trackbacks (at least, not that I’ve been able to find). It does show search terms people have used to find your site, and that can be useful in and of itself.

      • Thanks Katie, I was just checking that minute. Yes, youre right, it does have the search terms which is great cause I can see what people are interested in.
        Kate recently posted…Are You Looking For Power Outside Of Yourself?My Profile

  2. Katie, I know you’re information is just great, but I’m not there yet. Keeping the blog up is enough at the moment. But, I am so keeping your page bookmarked. You should star the blogs you have for “traffic increasers for dummies.” Start here. Ha!

    Thanks for all the good info.
    Dr. Samantha Joseph

  3. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never followed my track-backs, because I didn’t know HOW. But now with your excellent advice, I think I can figure it out. Thanks, Katie, you are a Very Helpful and Generous Person, Indeed. I appreciate you.
    Amy recently posted…Two-Mushroom Tart from the Kitchen of Chef WilliamMy Profile

  4. Thanks so much for this info, Katie! I have GA but have never played around with it much, so I’d never known I could look at trackbacks in it. (Never would have found them on my own, either!)

    A question for you–I have noticed, when I check my comment spam, that there are often what appear to be pingbacks/trackbacks (I can never remember the difference!) in there. I am not sure how to tell if they’re legit or not. I assume, if they’re for real, that I should be approving them, but I don’t want to do that when I’m not sure. Any advice?

    Thanks!
    Nancy Norbeck recently posted…The Enemy of the GoodMy Profile

    • Do you have Akismet installed? It’s a WordPress plugin that catches spam comments and spam trackbacks. I’d start with that and assume it’s right in labeling something spam unless you have reason to know it’s wrong. There’s also a plugin called Simple Trackback Validation with Topsy Blocker (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/simple-trackback-validation-with-topsy-blocker/) that may help if you don’t want to use Akismet.

      As for ways to identify trackback spam, the best way I know is to look at the source of the trackback. If it doesn’t look like a site that would ever logically link to you, it’s probably spam.

      • Thanks, Katie. Akismet is indeed what’s listing the trackbacks as spam, so perhaps they really are. I’ve found lately that it does label real comments as spam from time to time, so I’ll check out the links and see if the trackbacks look legit or not.
        Nancy Norbeck recently posted…The Enemy of the GoodMy Profile

  5. Katie,
    That was very informative. But what about all the spammy trackbacks- that also go to “adult” sites. Is there a way to block that- or just block you seeing what they are doing?
    And I’m still a bit confused about how you do a track back to another site? Is that when you have a live link to something they’ve written?
    Thanks! I subscribed!
    Lianda
    Lianda recently posted…Are You Stuck In A Dieting Revolving Door?My Profile

    • Awesome, Lianda, and welcome!

      As for spammy trackbacks, one option is to disable trackbacks completely. In your admin panel, go to Settings, then Discussion. Under “Default Article Settings,” make sure “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) ” is NOT checked. People will still be able to link to your blog, but you won’t get the trackback notifications.

      If you don’t want to do that, you can either install the Akismet plugin which blocks all sorts of spam (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/akismet/), or you can install a plugin called Simple Trackback Validation with Topsy Blocker (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/simple-trackback-validation-with-topsy-blocker/).

      Of the two, Akismet is listed as being up-to-date with the most recent WordPress release, while Simple Trackback Validation isn’t. Akismet also has more functions. The only downside to Akismet is that you have to get an API key. It walks you through that process, so it’s not hard. It’s just one extra step in setting the plugin up.
      Katie recently posted…2 Tools That Make Blogging EasierMy Profile

  6. Great post – I actually have never tracked my trackbacks but now I am going to check on them from time to time! So many things I should be doing that I am not!
    Michelle recently posted…5 Easy Tips to Build Strong Social Media RelationshipsMy Profile

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