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July 7, 2009

Updated: January 31, 2016

One reason why blogs have become so popular in recent years is that search engines seem to like them a lot more than ordinary websites. They rank them more quickly, so blogs get noticed faster, and more people visit them.

Why is this? Because blogs have the ability to “ping”.


What is a ping? In simple terms, it’s a short message sent from one computer to another over the internet. The second computer then bounces back a message to the first computer acknowledging receipt. The is where the name came from — it’s similar to a radar ping originally used by submarines in World War II to locate other ships.

When you publish a new post on your WordPress blog, it automatically notifies various Update Services — pinging them to tell them you have new stuff they should know about.

Why ping? The blog services can then add your blog to their directory or to their list of recently updated blogs. This gives you some backlinks ( very valuable! ). These links can be used not only by people, but get noticed by search engines and social networking sites as well — thus giving you even more backlinks!

A misunderstanding: For years, many people thought that WordPress was pinging every time you edited a post. So if you made, for example, six edits, before settling on a final revision, WordPress would ping six times. This could cause you to be banned for ping spamming. So Ping Optimizer plugins were devised to keep WordPress from pinging each time a post was edited.

However, Ping Optimizers are not necessary. Chip Bennett has proven this by analyzing WordPress PHP coding to show that a ping occurs ONLY when a post is published for the first time.

Even though it’s not necessary, I continue to use WordPress Ping Optimizer, by Pankaj Jha. It has two convenient features that I like: (1) It allows me to FORCE a ping, which I do when I make major changes to the post, and (2) When it pings, it lists all the Update Services that were notified, and shows whether they accepted the ping or not. That makes it easy for me to regularly update my list of services.

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