Saturday, January 26, 2008

Talkin' Trackbacks, Part 2: How

OK, so after reading the first post in this series, you might be mildly interested in this whole trackback thing -- especially if you are a blogger who would like to increase his readership. I can hear you thinking, though, "How does this all work? If it's too difficult, I'm not going to do it."

Fair enough. I'll tell you, though, that if you have the wherewithal to actually post in your blog on a regular basis, then doing a trackback should be a breeze.

Warning: Technical Content

Now, some of this is going to be dependent on which blogging software you use, but, in general this is how the procedure works. By the way, if you'd like to see a good example of a "tackback-able" blog, check out Seth Godin's. His was the first one to which I sent a trackback ping (which resulted in the first day that my readership exceeded twenty readers for the day).

So, here are the steps:

  1. Read a blog post on a blog where you have an interest, whether it be "new marketing" or "knitting sweaters for weasels".
  2. Discover that you have something important to say on the subject. This is actually a pretty important step. Remember that the response you are crafting will be a post on your own blog (What? You don't have a blog? What are you waiting for?). Also, many authors moderate their trackbacks, so if they don't think what you are saying is worthy of a reverse link, they don't have to include you.
  3. Find the "trackback URL" for the original post. Usually, when you click on a trackback link for a post, there will be a short message that looks something like: Trackback URL for this entry: -- remember where this is.
  4. Write your post -- Of course, using your normal amazing powers of prose.
  5. Paste in the trackback URL. This is the one area where you might have to do a little research, but there should be an entry field for this information. You are in especially good shape if you use one of the blogging packages which supports trackbacks natively, such as MovableType or WordPress (What? You use Blogger, like I do? Tune in tomorrow for how we can take part in the fun!).
  6. Publish your post. Yep, click on the "submit" or "Publish" or "Make it so" button -- whichever gets things going for your blog.
  7. Let the trackback facility do its thing. What happens next is your blogging software sends out a "ping" to the blogging software for the original post -- sort of a computerized "hello". It sends along some other information, like who you are, the title of your post, the URL for your post, and a short excerpt of your literary masterpiece. The system on the other end takes that information and either puts it on the trackback page or queues it up for approval by the original blogger.
And that's pretty much how it works. Essentially, it's just a couple of extra steps for you (copy trackback URL, paste trackback URL) and you've got a great new way to carry on a conversation and make more people aware of your blog.

What's that I hear? You're all excited about using trackbacks, but your blogging software doesn't support them? Tune in tomorrow (and the next day, probably) to find out what else you can do.

So, what do you think, would you be willing to try trackbacks?

1 comment:

Debby said...

I already have and as I said before they are great! I am a blogger person, so I had to have Greg help me. That's what I get for being the mom!