Sunday, 9 October 2005

Blogger: backlinks feature (not quite trackback)

Just introduced by Blogger (can barely keep up with all the changes everywhere this week!) - a new "backlinks" feature (pointed out by my Magical Sheep pardner Truckspy). It's not really trackback. It's a bit of a fudge - what it does is to use Google's newish Blog search to search for blog posts which have linked to a particular post:
So it only searches blogs which have been indexed by Google, and there may be a time lag between a post linking to one of your posts, and its appearance on your post page (i.e. it only appears when it's been picked up by Google's crawler).

[Added 9 October:] It's a bit like Technorati's Cosmos for finding posts in blogs indexed by Technorati which have linked to a particular post of yours, except that it cleverly lists on your post page itself the titles to all those posts, with the ability to click the right arrow by a title to expand and see an extract from any of those posts (which does mean your pages take a bit longer to load), and you can click the arrow again to hide the extract. For long lists this can be cumbersome and time-consuming - it would have been better if there had been a single link to click that opens a new window containing all the individual links (which could in turn open in new windows). Or if they could at least offer the option to have a single link to open a popup, I'd have preferred that. No doubt someone will figure out how to do it...

You can turn backlinks on or off for any particular post, and you can also (if you're logged in) delete an individual backlink from the list with the trashcan icon.

It also produces a "Create a Link" link, which works via BlogThis by allowing Blogger users to create a new post which automatically contains a link to the post they want to link to. It's nowhere near the same as "true" trackback, e.g. it won't allow non-Blogger users to create a quasi-trackback link to your post and I'd like to be able to change the "Create a Link" text to something else, but it seems we're stuck with it. [Added 18 October:] I've since figured out how to change the "Create a Link" backlink text.

You can only turn on backlinks easily if you (1) have a newish Blogger blog, and (2) use one of Blogger's standard templates. If you have an old Blogger template, or use your own custom template, the help page supposedly contains a link to instructions on how to add backlinks to your blog, but that doesn't work (and the link actually goes to "not written yet" if you hover over the link text!). But I've figured it out and will post a howto about it soon. Probably tomorrow. [Edited 18 October:] Well it took a bit longer but I've done it now, and the Blogger help page link is now working too - see this post.

Meanwhile if you want to check out how it works on a blog other than Buzz, take a look at my introduction to Technorati tags post.

[Added 9 October:] One problem Truckspy has pointed out is that the linkback code, at least in my non-Blogger standard template, does funny things to your blog in Firefox (and, I've noticed, in Opera too - but not Internet Explorer... does this herald a Google/Microsoft linkup, I wonder...??). It stops you from selecting/copying the text on the blog page, not so good for my blog where I sometimes post code for people to copy/paste. In Firefox, it even stops you from copying what's in the address/location bar. Must be a bug - I've just written to Blogger about it and if you have the same problem, even if you have a new standard template, you might write them too. Oh, and I've noticed it intermittently mucks up scrolling your blog page with the keyboard too. Bit of a pain, that - hope they fix it or I'll be taking the code off soon! [Added 18 October:] They've fixed that now, great. And it's loading faster too.

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ritzy said...

Hi there!
It works, sort of, but I say what I always say: I should have came to your place before I tried it myself! :-)

Na, it wasn't that tricky but as with Halsoscan track back it took a few attempts to get it at the right place in the template.

Apparantly, not many of my in-linkers are indexed by Google, but I found one post where it works:

It's displayed in a very ugly way though; I need to sleep and try it with fresh eyes tomorrow. I thought it said part of the message text would be displayed, I only have the link. But it works.

Republishing the whole blog is a must; my past-month archived posts didn't display the link before I did.

Why isn't my Trackback displayed on the post page? Didn't notice this until now.

On another note: I always had problem with Firefox, to reload my blog I have to clear the cache. Same thing happened now when I first came to your blog. Sorry! AND when I swithced over to IE6 the Firefox stuck-up had affected that browser as well so I had to clean the temp files out in IE as well. (Don't like that, slows down my surfing too much and I do at least fifty sites a day). Anyway, just wanted to mention it. Be alert!

All best / ritzy

ritzy said...

I see now that Blogger has taken down the help link to the older templates. HA! I'm not that bad after all! I read it when the night was still young, got into problems, got stuck, fired off a message to their feedback (using the one line form) saying 'your backlink help page is seriously flawed. good luck.' Guess many complained because it's down now and I hope when it's back tomorrow I'll see what's wrong with my work because I've been spending too many hours on it tonight!

I love this. Want to learn everything. Please send a rich husband to support me while I'm learning.

Sorry for taking up so much space, you know now what fans can be like.. :-)

best to you / ritzy

ritzy said...

The page with the codes for the template is at:

the link at the page is not working yet

all code is confusing to me so I will say no more!

Improbulus said...

Hi ritzy. You have to click on the arrow by a title to see the extract, I've just modified my post to make that clearer (and also to mention a problem with selecting text, in Firefox - maybe they should have clearly flagged this as a beta release!). Your trackback code may need to be copied between your itempage tags too, to get it to display there. Or it may be hidden between mainorarchivepage tags.

Blogger help page link seems to be fine now and it was when I was writing my post, maybe it was a blip. Yes the link on the help page to the instructions for older templates doesn't work, I did mention that "not written yet" stuff in my original post, which is why I had to work it out for myself..

Jasper said...

@Ritzy | If you write your custom linkback Javascript using the Blogger Javascripts you can fix the Firefox selecting problem.

Anonymous said...

Thanks indeed, also for technorati post; they are somewhat confusing. Would like a Technorait 'backlink' search on my posts, am using their bookmarklet for searching other sites easily and its very good.

Arrow? Only arrows I see is on this blog and they are not linked, but the text is. Anyway, the blogger help file was indeed down for a period of time but not for a rewrite as I thought. The code has been within itempage tags all time and I tried to take the MainOrArchivePage out which didn't make any difference at all. Whatever I did it's something seriously wrong, my site doesn't work at all in Firefox now.

Jason - thanks for the tip

Anonymous said...

Apologizes - I see the arrows in bloggers help file now.

Na, I don't even get that, just pasting the code wasn't enough. I'll see if they indeed have updated the templates, perhaps there is a difference I haven't noted or I've corrupted something.

Improbulus said...

Ritzy - Technorati introduced "backlinks" (aka Cosmos) - a while back. I edited my post to explain. To add Cosmos links to your blog see my Cosmos post.

Only thing is Blogger display the backlinks list automatically on your post page, but with Technorati you have to click the Cosmos link to see the search results. Hope this helps.

No time now but I'll post on the solution to getting backlinks to work on a non-standard template as soon as I can.

ritzy said...

Aha! Is that what cosmos is all about :-) Technorati did confuse that a bit -- or I wasn't paying attention!

Thanks for being such a blogger angel / ritzy

laslo rojas said...

hello there,
I recently added this new Backlink feature in my blog:
which is based in a blogger template but i did some modifications over the time, so the html code was added automatically.
The problem is that by enabling Backlist, somehow my template has moved like 30 pixels down. You can see at the very top (below the black google bar) a color tick line, on top of the header image, that line is the background of the wrapper and isnt supposed to be there :(
I tried disabling Backlink but the damaged is done and not reversed.
Please if you can take a look at it and tell me what could have happened here and how to fix it, I'll be very grateful. Please email me to amnesico at
Thanks in advance.

Cooper said...

if anyone would like to help me figure out how to getting a tracking and back link into my non standard blogger template please email me. I'm desperate and the blogger directions do not work.


Improbulus said...

Ritzy, sorry I didn't spot your comment before - no problem!

Laslo, I'm afraid I can't help, I'm not very up on CSS yet...

Alice have you tried the instructions in my further post?

Anonymous said...

Thanks indeed, also for technorati post; they are somewhat confusing. Would like a Technorait 'backlink' search on my posts, am using their bookmarklet for searching other sites easily and its very good.

Matthew Meyer-May said...

I have linked back to the Google official blog hoping to appear in their sites linking to them section but so far no takers. I wonder what I am missing?