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Building Blog Love: The Art of the Pingback and the Vanity Search

Cultivating Blog Love

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When it comes to social media and blogging, it’s essential to understand that your words become part of the greater conversation, whether you started that conversation or not. With the widespread reach of blogs, even big media understands that the voice of the small-time blogger can be a powerful one to add to their journalistic narratives.

That’s why it’s especially important not only to know when your blog is a part of the conversation but to actively take part in that conversation, too.

It’s not about controlling brand representation (although, that’s a nice bonus). It’s about building what I call “blog love.”

What is Blog Love?

Blog love is that special internet mojo when your words connect and resonate with another and they feel compelled to share your words with others. This might be in the form of comments, likes, or shares for a particular blog post. You might see that someone has tweeted out a link to a post you put a lot of work into, or someone has posted your blog to their Facebook page. That’s blog love, right there.

Sure, blog love also means good SEO karma, but it’s not the focus. It’s a side effect of community building.

When you start making these connections with your blog, when you really start building that blog love, amazing things can happen. It’s like professional networking with your blog, but on a more personal level. It when your words really matter and make a difference. As wonderful as it is to just sit back and watch the blog love roll in, there are ways to be strategic about cultivating blog love.

The Art of the Pingback

What the hell is a pingback? The WordPress Codex sheds some light:

The best way to think about pingbacks is as remote comments:

  • Person A posts something on his blog.
  • Person B posts on her own blog, linking to Person A’s post. This automatically sends a pingback to Person A when both have pingback enabled blogs.
  • Person A’s blog receives the pingback, then automatically goes to Person B’s post to confirm that the pingback did, in fact, originate there.

The pingback is generally displayed on Person A’s blog as simply a link to Person B’s post. (Source.)

The pingback (and its friend, the trackback) is one very basic example of blog love. You write something awesome. Someone links back to your post on their blog. You get a little email from WordPress with a pingback notification.

BLAMMO! You’ve just been blog loved.

Blog Love is NOT a One-Way Street

Nobody likes a taker who just takes all the time, right? Loving relationships work because each partner is willing to give a little bit of themselves to the other person. The same is true of blog love. When you get some blog love, you give it right back.

Anytime you get a pingback, it’s like you just got the heads up: “Hey! Someone’s talking about you.” And that’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s the internet’s way of saying that a conversation about your words has begun. So it only makes sense to join that conversation.

Every time I get a get a pingback notification, I take it as an opportunity to connect with a reader. I click over, see what they’ve had to say, and leave a comment. I might even link back to their blog in a future post. And they might link back to me again. And I do the same. See the pattern here?

Reciprocal blog love is a beautiful thing to behold.

Setting Up Pingbacks in WordPress

This is so ridiculously easy, you’ll be done in less than a minute:

  1. Go to your WordPress Dashboard.
  2. Go to Settings > Discussion. (See, even WordPress gets that your blog is part of a conversation.)
  3. Under that first list of checkboxes labeled Default article settings, ensure that “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)” is checked.
  4. Hit Save.
  5. Voila! The conduit for blog love is now open. Receive and share.

Vanity Isn’t a Bad Thing, Either

The vanity search – perhaps you’ve heard of it? In short, it’s when you Google yourself: your name, your blog’s name or your brand’s name – or all of the above. The vanity search is one of the simplest ways to see from where links to your content are appearing on the web.

And, because you’re a savvy web whiz like I am, you set up Google Alerts with your vanity searches. You DO have at least two vanity search Google Alerts created, right? One for your full name and one for your blog/brand’s name? No worries. I’ll show you how to set one up in a blog post this weekend. We gotcha covered.

The great thing about Google Alerts is that you can set them up to notify you immediately or in daily or weekly digest form. You can also have them push to an RSS reader.

Because pingbacks and trackbacks only work with WordPress blogs who also have pingbacks and trackbacks enabled, you could be missing on dozens and hundreds of other conversations happening about you in other parts of the blogosphere. The pingback + Google vanity search Alert is a savvy one-two combo to make sure you stay on top of the blog love coming your way.

The Final Word on Blog Love

If you’ve been watching the pingbacks pile up and haven’t been returning that love, well, it’s time to pay it forward. Consider today Valentine’s Day for your blog and you’re playing Cupid. Go spread that blog love.

Blog love is good stuff. Share the blog love with Words Empowered by sharing, liking and tweeting this post to your friends and colleagues!


  1. I’m so glad I checked my settings. I thought I was being notified about P&T, but the box was unchecked.

    Ready now to give and receive blog love!