Is your WordPress blog 'pinging' too much?

WordPress Update Services
WordPress Update Services

This issue arose from a workshop I was teaching recently. (I love workshops. I'm there to teach, but I often find I learn something from the attendees with all the great questions I get asked!). We were running through the basic settings of a WordPress blog and looking at the built-in XML-RPC 'ping' feature which WordPress has to help us promote our content using the Ping-o-Matic update service.

The ping feature basically sends out a notification to websites that list blog content from all over the internet that you have added new content. Your content can then be listed on their website for readers to find. This can potentially send a ton of traffic to your website (but only if you're creating and publishing amazing content!). And this, in turn, can generate lots of social shares (great for generating awareness) and hopefully a few links from other websites (fantastic for SEO). So it's a win-win all round. Or is it?

Ping-o-Matic
Ping-o-Matic

I don't normally delve into the details of this feature in my introductory session on content marketing and WordPress, but the issue was raised by one savvy attendee who suggested this feature could be a bad thing. So how could this be bad? Well, the way in which WordPress works is that the 'ping' is sent each time a post is published. This is fine if you only publish a post once, but think about how many times you go back into a post and edit after seeing a typo or grammatical error you just can't bear to appear on your blog. If you're a fanatical editor, could it be that you end up pinging your blog multiple times with the same content? - something blog websites won't stand for and will often ban your blog from it's website.

If this is the case, you have two options. You can either keep your editing to the 'draft' phase, so making sure you check and double check your articles before publishing them. Even get someone else to do this for you as it's often easier for other people to spot the obvious mistakes. Then, only when you're 100% happy that the content is correct, upload it to your blog!

The other option you have is to use a plugin that will control how WordPress pings these blog sites.

The other issue that people report with WordPress's pinging feature is how it deals with the scheduling function. If you're a keen writer and find once you start blogging, you end writing several articles at once and, to save time, you upload them all at the same time but schedule them to go at set intervals in the future, you could find that WordPress will ping the blog sites at the time you schedule them, not at the time they actually get published. This means you could be pinging multiple times when no new content has been published, further aggravating the sites receiving the pings and making it more likely you'll get your blog banned.

In this situation, the only real option is to use a plugin. Of course, you could just publish each article as and when you want it to go live, but that creates more work for us and could be unrealistic if you're publishing a lot articles, and what's the point of time saving tools if we can't use them?

There's been quite a bit of discussion around this on the WordPress support forums, and even one plugin author advising people not to install his plugin because it isn't actually required.

I think it's still a bit of a question mark and I'm yet to make a call on this myself. I'm not a fanatical editor and I tend to write one or two articles at a time, so I wouldn't immediately consider myself to be at risk of 'over-pinging'. I'm also not an expert on WordPress development, so couldn't say which side of the argument is technically correct and whether it's just a case of ping/pingback confusion.

If you've had any experience of seeing websites banned for pinging too often, or successfully using a plugin to manage pings, I love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.