Many clients have shared concerns with me about using the built-in Update Services feature of WordPress to automatically ping services like Ping-O-Matic. Why are they concerned? They have heard horror stories from fellow bloggers or read random stories you can find on the web about WordPress sites being blocked from these sites due to a variety of different reasons. Unfortunately, there is much more information out there about the problems and very little information about solutions. In this post, I aim to address the major concerns and provide solutions where solutions are needed.

Some WordPress users will be tempted to not use the Update Services feature in order to avoid this situation. Other WordPress users will just dismiss the problems as something that doesn’t affect them. Both of these reactions are poor solutions to the problem since pinging can bring in quality traffic to your blog with little to no effort. That said, you do have to do a little bit of work to make sure that you aren’t going to get blocked by the pinging services.

Future Posting

The biggest concern that people have and the one that is widely reported as the major issue is scheduling posts for a future date. Scheduling posts ahead of time has many great benefits: posts can always come out at a specific time, you can batch many days’ worth of posts so that you don’t have to write every day, etc. However, it has been reported that the combination of scheduling posts for a future date and using Update Services have horrible consequences.

What’s the problem? The idea behind this fear is that scheduling a future post causes the ping to go through the moment you hit the Publish button. This would cause the pinging service to look poorly upon your blog since you are telling them about non-existent material (since the post hasn’t been visibly published yet).

What’s really happening? This problem was very real not too long ago. Versions of WordPress prior to 2.1 would ping the moment you published the post, irregardless of whether or not the post was visible yet. However, as of WordPress version 2.1 on, this has not been a problem. In these newer versions, a ping will not be sent until the post is visible.

What’s the solution? If you are still running a version of WordPress prior to 2.1, I highly recommend that you upgrade. Not only do the latest versions have great features that will make your life as a blogger easier, but they also include numerous security fixes and bug fixes such as this one.

Editing and Updating

Have you ever published a post just to make a quick change minutes or hours later? Have you ever had so many little mistakes in a post that you’ve found yourself going back time and time again to make “just one last fix?” How about clicking the Publish button and then seeing a mistake before the article even finishes publishing? Yeah… Neither have I. According to some people out there, all these little edits and updates can get your blog banned from pinging services.

What’s the problem? WordPress’s Update Services feature wants to tell the world that your blog is out there and active; however, sometimes this feature gets overzealous and pings these services when you really don’t want it to. Basically, the Update Services feature will ping every site in your list each and every time you save a published post (after the posting date) no matter how big or small the edit to the content was. So, that time that you made ten changes to the content within a matter of minutes after publishing the post, you sent out an additional ten pings to your Update Services list.

What’s really happening? In this case, WordPress is behaving exactly as reported. When you make those numerous tiny tweaks to your content right after publishing, you are sending more and more duplicate pings to your pinging services. Depending on the service, this can get your temporarily or permanently banned from their service very quickly.

What’s the solution? Fortunately, many great solutions for the problems with WordPress’ auto-ping feature exist. My personal favorite is Ultimate Plugins’ Smart Update Pinger plugin. This plugin not only prevents ping services from getting hit each time you edit your post, but it also allows you to manually ping the services in case you make a large edit, such as an update on the post topic, later on that you would like to notify the ping services about.

Conclusion

As you can see, WordPress has offered a great tool to help your blog get noticed, but it is not without its problems. Adding a plugin such as the Smart Update Pinger can really help you take advantage of pinging services without running the risk of getting banned by those services for abusing their system.

If everyone is interested enough, I’ll make another post in the future about the value of pinging and how to best take advantage of pinging to help maximize your blog’s potential.

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