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The world of Search Engine Optimization can be a really confusing one! There are lots of sites out there with differing opinions and sometimes it’s really hard to know what to do. Recently I was asked a question about “pinging” a WordPress website. You may be aware that there are lots of websites out there that offer update services and extended ping lists. The question is, should we be using them? Or should we just stick with the default ping service that comes with the WordPress installation? Also, can adding an updated ping list to your WordPress blog help or damage your SEO efforts? I decided to do a bit of research.
What is pinging and what’s a ping service?
For those of you that don’t know what pinging is, allow me to briefly explain. A ping is basically a signal that is sent out from your blog that notifies the search engines of any new content that you add to your site. WordPress will automatically send out a ping when you add a new page or post. It will even send out a ping when you do any updates to your posts.
The ping is first sent out to a special online service where it is then forwarded, eventually notifying the search engines of your content. This process allows the search engines to discover what’s new on your blog and what updates you have made. If the search engines like your content, you will be indexed within the search results.
Google Vs Web Spam!
There has been a big battle for some time now between Google and a few so called internet “gurus”. The internet Guru’s are always on the lookout for loopholes and easy ways to get in the search engines. Of course Google is generally one step ahead! Although conflicting information online has led to a lot of confusion when it comes to SEO. Some people are willing to give anything a try, especially if they think its going to put them at the top of the search engines.
Is adding more WordPress update services a good idea?
There are many differing opinions on the internet as to whether or not adding more ping services to your WordPress blog is a good thing. There are lots of websites out there that offer updated ping service lists. Most of these sites claim that the more up to date ping services that you use, the faster you will get your content indexed. There are some big names out there that follow this advice too. But I’m not one of them! And here’s why…
The purpose and misuse of pinging
The whole purpose of pinging your WordPress blog is get your content indexed within the search engines. When I post a new page, post or update it might take a few hours or even a few days to get indexed. I don’t really care about the timescale, the most important thing is that it gets indexed. But did you know that you could actually be harming your search engine ranks by pinging too often? And the quickest way to over ping your website is by adding a huge list of ping services to it.
Could over pinging label you as a spammer?
Going back a few years things were very different in SEO terms. There was a time when building huge amounts of backlinks to your posts could get them to the top of the search engines. Do backlinks still have the same effect that they used to have? No, they don’t. Google has evolved and all of those methods of creating spun content and low quality websites have gone right out of the window.
But it would seem that old habits die hard for some people. There is still tons of advice on the internet that would have you believe that back-linking is still effective and that you should ping everything that you create to multiple services. It has been reported by one service that approximately 90% of pings sent to them were actually spam links. So it will come as no surprise to learn that Google implemented some safeguarding into its search algorithm to detect such actions. These days Google can and will issue penalties to those blogs that it suspects of using spammy techniques. And you could be doing it without even realizing it!
WordPress ping lists could damage your SEO
Have you ever taken the advice of an internet guru or SEO master who told you to update your WordPress ping list? If so then you might want to reconsider after reading this. I recently discovered a post from Ana at the Traffic Generation Cafe, who thankfully pointed me in the right direction.
Here I finally found the answer that I had been looking for. I had suspected that pinging could be classed as spam for some time, but until now I had no hard evidence to prove it.
Ana pointed me to an extremely long post on the Viperchill.com blog, entitled “The Future Of Blogging”. I highly recommend that you read both Ana’s and Viperchills posts as linked to here as they really are quite enlightening. It was within those posts that I finally found the proof that I had been looking for. Ping your WordPress blog too much or to the wrong services and you could damage your search engine ranks.
WordPress Update Services CAN Damage SEO!
Glen at Viperchill tells us that he was checking his search results when he found something very interesting. A page that should have ranked very easily for their brand name was actually beaten by three other much lower quality sites. After talking about this on social media, Glen got a personal message from non other than Matt Cutts (former head of web spam at Google). Matt asked Glen what services he was currently using to “ping” his posts with.
Here’s what glen had to say:
Think about this!
WordPress comes with one service that it uses to send pings out to every time you publish or edit a post. That means that every time you make an amendment and re-publish your edited content, another ping is sent. These pings are then distributed to lots of other services before notifying the search engines. So if you are doing quite a bit of editing and re-publishing, the pings can really start to add up. Now consider the fact that some internet Guru’s recommend adding lists of 50, 60, even up to 200 new ping services to your blog! You might think that you are submitting quality content to Google when in actual fact you are performing mass web spam!
If you have a ping list of 50 services on your blog and press publish 2 or 3 times during an edit, you could well be sending out hundreds of spammy signals. And then there is the fact that Google don’t like all of the update services out there either. You could well be linking to a service that Google does not approve of.
Have I been given a Google penalty for ping spamming?
It would seem that the Google penalty for sending out lots of pings might not be as bad as getting de-indexed. Like in the example above, Glen knew that he should be ranking in the no.1 position but was actually ranked number 4. But the point that I am making here is that you could be harming each and every one of your posts as a result of this one setting within your WordPress blog. You could be ranking on page 2 for a search term, where you should be on page one. You could be in the same position as Glen and just missing out on that top spot. The worst part of this is that you could be missing out on valuable traffic. Fortunately, updating your ping services couldn’t be easier.
How to check your WordPress ping services
If this post has at least convinced you to check your update services within WordPress, then here’s how to do it.
Within your WordPress dashboard simply go to Settings and then Writing.
You will see the WordPress update services that you have enabled on your blog.
You can remove the ones that you don’t want by simply selecting and deleting them.
Here is what the default update services look like.
To ping or not to ping!
That is the question! So when should or shouldn’t we ping our blog? Well as a rule there is no major effect from pinging just one service. However, if you have updated your ping list or you have a plugin that also sends out pings, then you should perhaps look into it. Sending lots of ping signals can affect your rankings, so why risk it? My best advice is to use the default settings that WordPress comes installed with. The default settings send your ping to a service called “Ping-o-matic”, who do a really good job. These guys automatically enable and disable services as necessary, so that you don’t need to worry about it!
One other thing that you might want to consider is disabling the update services entirely. If you are doing a lot of editing in a single session then you might consider turning off the updates. I sometimes have days where I will spend a couple of hours updating and amending old posts. This of course can lead to a lot of clicks on the publish button and lots of pings being sent out. Simply by removing the update services you can temporarily stop WordPress from pinging your site. Just don’t forget to put your update services back once you finish!