Is your “WordPress ping list” useless? It just might be – read more to find out why having a huge ping list in WordPress might just be “so 2005” (lol).
What is a WordPress Ping List?
In your WordPress dashboard – if you go to “Settings -> Writing”, and the bottom of the page there is a little box called “Update Services”.
Just like it was above that box, when you publish a new post, WordPress automatically notifies the services listed in that box. It sends out a little electronic message we call in geek terms a “ping”.
By default every installation of WordPress has at least one entry – which is:
5 years ago when blogging was on fire, and RSS feeds and feed readers were just getting mainstream – it was popular to add all kinds of entries to the “update services” ping list. In fact, jamming 100 entries in your WordPress ping list to ping every RSS aggregation service wasn’t only popular – it worked! It got you a lot of additional traffic.
Things are different now. Let’s go back to that default entry every WordPress site has:
You might not know this, but the web site Pingomatic.com is owned by the WordPress Foundation. If you follow that link and go to their web page you’ll see a list of about 20 services that are pinged automatically.
At this time that list is: Weblogs.com, Syndic8.com, Pubsub.com, Moreover, News Is Free, Spinn3r, Collecta, Blo.gs, NewsGator, Blogdigger, Weblogalot, Topic Exchanage, PostRank, Superfeedr, Feed Burner, My Yahoo!, BlogStreet, Icerocket, Google Blog Search, and SkyGrid.
For those of you that still have a ping list from “back in the day” – you’ll probably notice that most of these ping services are usually in everybody’s “recommended list of ping sites”. It also means, if Pingomatic is in your list – you’re already sending content to these sites once, and the second entry is now a duplicate. The last thing you want to do is repeatedly send pings out for the same content, the IP address of your web site might getted banned for “overpinging”. In addition, nearly every modern web crawler in the world follows Weblogs.com religiously – so every search engine is also automatically notified of your new content with the one Pingomatic ping as well.
How to Find Ping Errors
One of the problems with pinging is that it’s a one way service. A ping is an electronic message that goes out: “Look at Me, Look at Me!!”. How do you know the ping was actually received? You don’t – because WordPress doesn’t track whether the ping was received or not.
But guess what – there’s a plugin for that!
The plugin I use is called Error Reporting – because I like to track ALL errors in WordPress. One of the features of this plugin (that I found out about by mistake) is the dashboard widget that shows “ping errors”. If you don’t want the full error reporting plugin, you can download and install just the Ping Watcher dashboard widget plugin by itself.
The image above is the dashboard widget with some ping errors listed. If you choose to have a huge “WordPress ping list” – you should probably have that widget installed so you can see when entries go bad. You may wonder why the Pingomatic site by WordPress only pings 20 services when your huge ping list has 100 entries? It’s really NOT because your list is better, it’s because there are only really 20 relevant services left out there to ping to – and WordPress handles them all by default. Should you choose not to believe me, the ping errors widget will sniff out all the bad ones for you.
Technorati Hates Pings? Yes, believe it or not – Technorati now even hates pings. Over a year ago Technorati stopped accepting pings. I’ve read in more than one place that Yahoo no longer accepts pings as well, but I can’t verify this. If you have a ping list of 100-150 entries, odds are a great deal of the URL’s are either no longer online – or not accepting pings anymore.
I’m not surprised that many people don’t know about outdated sites, the Official Update Services page at WordPress.Org is severely outdated. Their own list of ping services not only has URL’s that are now obsolete, but nearly everything in that list (still working) is now handled by Pingomatic itself. In addition, nearly every alternative and resource link is outdated or bad as well.
I am specifically writing this post and optimizing it to get ranked #1 for “WordPress Ping List” to educate people on how and when to use pinging services in WordPress.
Penalty to Pinging Too Much?
One of the things clients ask me, and I see in forums a lot is the question “Can I get a Penalty for Pinging too Much?” The answer simply is “YES”. You can get banned temporarily or permanently for pinging too much.
Which brings me to the next point – do you know how often WordPress actually sends pings out? Let’s say you publish a new post in WordPress, a ping goes out. Oops, you forgot something and edit the post after checking it 5 minutes later, another ping goes out. Maybe you really screwed up the copy and revise the post 10 times in the first 30 minutes after you published it. You just sent out 11 pings for the exact same post.
The ping services DO NOT KNOW the difference between publishing a post and editing a post, they only know that you’re pinging for the exact same page OVER and OVER again. WordPress sends out a ping EVERY TIME a post is edited or updated. This may not affect you, but I edit posts A LOT.
If this is the case for you – you might need to install the WordPress Ping Optimizer plugin.
The image above is the settings page for the Ping Optimizer plugin. You can add and remove entries from your WordPress ping list (syncs with the official “Settings -> Writing” Update Services list in your dashboard). You can “limit excessive pinging in short time” or even turn pinging off if you need to for a short time! There’s even a “ping now” button, just in case you’ve added content to template files, header, footer, or sidebars (places that don’t get “published”).
What Should I Do?
As someone that is a professional WordPress Consultant, working on 300+ WordPress projects per year, and personally owning 50+ WordPress sites of my own – it’s my opinion that the old school “WordPress ping list” is now dead. I would delete everything except the default pingomatic entry – unless you have specialty content (audio, video), that requires you to ping a site not on the default Pingomatic.com list. If you make a lot of changes to your content, install the the Ping Optimizer plugin as well. If you choose to have more than the single Pingomatic entry in your ping list, be sure to add the Error Reporting or Ping Watcher plugin to track errors for ping entries that are no longer working. Also, be aware that every entry your ping list has is something WordPress has to do when publishing posts. If you have a ping list with 100 URL’s, those 100 pings have to go out EVERY TIME you publish a post, and the post won’t finish publishing until all 100 pings are done. If you have just the pingomatic entry – your posts will publish more quickly!
John Pratt is a full time WordPress Consultant. If your WordPress web site needs work – you can find him at JTPratt Media.