When I hear someone talking about pings for some reason I think about those World War II submarine movies where the sweaty greasy sailors are as quiet as they can be staring at the bulkheads around them listening to the sound of the enemy hunting them. Ping… Ping… Ping…
But there is another kind of ping that you should be aware of when it comes to your business blog.
Blog software does a great job of automating many of the tasks associated with web publishing. With RSS feeds, people can be automatically be updated anytime you post a new article to your blog.
But there is one part of the process that is not automatic, and that’s the act of someone actually subscribing to your feed. We make subscribing as simple as we possibly can by offering the feed subscription options prominently on our blog. But ultimately nothing will get to a person’s feed reader unless they actually take that manual step of subscribing.
What is a Ping?
The various services which help push your blog content further into the web are similar.
Your blog software has to reach out to them with a ping otherwise those services really don’t have anyway of knowing your blog exists.
If you want the stuffy dictionary definition of the term, here it is.
A protocol that sends a message to another computer and waits for acknowledgment, often used to check if another computer on a network is reachable.
They say it was a typical computeresse shortening of for packet information groper. Blah, blah, blah.
What it all boils down to is this. Most services won’t know about your blog unless you tell them. With a ping.
Automate the Ping Process
The good news is you can automate the ping process. It is really one of those set-it-and-forget-it deals.
With WordPress, just go to Options–>Writing and scroll down to the Update Services box.
In that box, put in the URLs for the services you want to ping when you post to your blog. Put one URL per line in the box. And don’t forget to click on the Update Options button to save your changes.
Then every time you hit Publish on a post, those services will be notified of your new content.
Where to Ping
The next question most people have is which sites do I need to ping?
The truth is there is no one “right” answer to this question.
There are a ton of services and sites out there that can help you get your blog content out to more potential customers. The best thing you can do is look at the services that cater to your niche. Then find out if they accept pings and what the URL is to ping them.
What follows are some of the services that are generic and might be useful to most folks.
Ping-o-matic is a site that will ping several of the search engines for you automatically when you ping them. Ping URL: http://rpc.pingomatic.com For most blogs this one alone may be all that is needed to get the word out.
If your feed runs through FeedBurner it is probably a good idea to ping them too. Ping URL: http://ping.feedburner.com
One note about FeedBurner, to push your feed further into the web make sure you activate their PingShot service under the Publicize tab. That way your feed will be easily accessible to more folks.
A couple other’s that might be useful to ping are PingGoat Ping URL: http://pingoat.com/goat/RPC2 and Blo.gs Ping URL http://ping.blo.gs/?name=example&url=http://example.com/ (Obviously change out the “example” with your blog’s info.) Both of these will ping other services for you as well.
There are some more specific services that are also useful to ping.
Technorati is a good one to be sure is pinged to let them know about your new content and any outgoing links you put in your post. Ping URL: http://www.technorati.com/ping/
Google Blog Search is another way folks might discover your great blog content that may not be covered in some of the other services. Ping URL: http://blogsearch.google.com/ping
And I have a large number of BlogLines subscribers so I ping them as well. (Or maybe I ping them separately so I have a large number of subscribers there, I’m not sure.) Ping URL: http://www.bloglines.com/ping
A Word of Caution
There are a couple things to keep in mind when you are setting up your pings. First off several of the services above repeat your ping out to many other services. Take a closer look at where they are pinging so that you don’t go gonzo and duplicate a bunch of pings.
Some services won’t take kindly to being bombarded with bunches of pings from the same source. Besides it’s rude to gobble up their bandwidth like that.
Also, when you have a whole list of services you are pinging, it will slow down the publication process on your blog. When you hit Publish on a post, WordPress will attempt to connect with each of the sites on your ping list one by one. The more sites you ping, the longer it will take to publish.
When I first heard about pinging I put tons of sites in my list. But it got too annoying for me to wait that long after I hit publish. I ended up weeding out most of them and just keeping the ones I found to be the most useful.
A Final Question
For all you experienced bloggers out there, I’ve got a question.
Which services have you found to be the most beneficial to ping?
Let the rest of us know what is working for you.