What is the Difference Between Referring Domains vs Backlinks? A Definitive Guide

It might be discouraging to rank well in search results when Google hides many factors contributing to those rankings. However, search engine optimizers have shown via rigorous research that backlinks and referring domains have a major effect on a page’s position in the SERPs (SERPs). Do you know the difference between referring domains vs backlinks?


With over 1.9 billion websites available today, how can you get on the top page of Google? Let’s begin the referring domain vs backlink debate by defining a backlink.


What is a Backlink?


Web pages may benefit from having backlinks and links on other pages that lead back to their own. Multiple inbound links from a single website or page are possible.


The quantity and quality of a website’s backlinks are two of the most important factors in determining its search engine ranking. But what, precisely, are backlinks? And how do they affect search engine optimization?


The term “backlinks” refers to the inbound links that appear on other websites and ultimately lead back to your own. Referring domains are simply websites that connect directly to yours via hyperlinks. Inbound links are sometimes referred to as incoming links.


SEO relies heavily on backlinks, demonstrating to search engines that your site is worthwhile and useful. What, therefore, is the distinction between referring domains vs external backlinks?


Search engine rankings improve when more external websites connect to yours. Because if other reputable websites are linked to yours, Google will assume that your site is famous and trustworthy.


Backlinks in more simple terms


Consider feedback in the form of backlinks. The quality of your page’s backlink profile indicates its overall quality to search engines. Avoid focusing on the sheer number of backlinks you have.


Quality, not the number of backlinks, is what Google is concerned about these days, so that’s all that matters.


Your backlink will carry more weight if it comes from a well-known and respected site. Furthermore, it shows that the website you linked to thinks your work is valuable and worth recommending to its readers.


What is a Referring Domain?


Domains that refer traffic to your site are called “referring domains.”


A website with one referring domain, such as one with a link from Forbes, has one referring domain. Referring domains include two in the case of a New York Times and Forbes connection. Even though it has two connections to the site from Forbes, it only counts as one referring domain.


How Does Referencing Domain Function in Practice?


Referring domains counted in cases when a website has received a link from the Wall Street Journal are one. It has two referring domains if the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post connect to them. Two Wall Street Journal links are one referring domain for a website’s link profile.


Adding a reference to your website’s content may be the only reason some sites link to yours. You would have six separate referring domains if, say, six different websites linked back to your page. You have no control over the number of links from each referring website.


How Do Backlinks and Referring Domains Impact SEO?


When comparing referring domains vs backlinks, who has greater clout? In SEO, referring domains are more valuable than backlinks.


Because of their significance in Google’s algorithm, referring domains and backlinks are crucial for search engine optimization.


It would be best to have backlinks from authoritative sources for a significant uptick in natural site visitors. A recent study by Ahrefs found that 90.63% of sites with no referring domains get no traffic from Google’s organic search results. There is a risk of lost traffic, engagement, and purchases if your target web pages do not have links from authoritative referring sites.


Organic Traffic Chart: Referring domains vs backlinks


According to Ahrefs’ research, even while websites with no backlinks will still get some organic search traffic each month, the likelihood of such a website getting 1,000 monthly visits or more is very low.


This chart only includes 5% of the sample population used by Ahrefs, which totals 4 million pages.


At least one backlink was present on the other 95% of sites. Simply put, just one out of every twenty pages that didn’t have any backlinks at all saw any referral traffic.


1 in 20.


It would help if you didn’t wager on such odds.


Building a strong backlink profile can generate organic traffic and improve your content’s search engine rankings.


How Can You Acquire Free Backlinks?


A backlink occurs when a reader follows the link to your website from your blog. If you can get connections to your site from other reputable websites, search engines will reward you with a better page rank (SERPs).


Reach out to comparable websites and politely request a link from one of their articles or blog posts. This can help you get more backlinks. Or you might use social media, guest blog posts, or infographics to spread the word about your content.


Guest posts on high-quality sites


Guest posting on authoritative websites is a terrific strategy to earn free high-quality backlinks. With an author profile that includes a link to your site, guest posting is a great way to boost your SEO and drive more visitors.


One of the keys to successful guest blogging is identifying high-quality websites in your topic. There is a higher likelihood of publication and a resulting backlink improvement on these platforms.


What is the best method for locating such exemplary online resources? Searching for sites with high Domain Authority using Ahrefs or Google Sheets is an excellent option (DA). Sites having a higher Domain Authority (DA), a statistic that assesses a website’s ability to rank in search engines, are more likely to provide you with a high-quality backlink.


Repurpose your content


Repurposing your content is a great strategy to increase the number of quality, no-cost links pointing back to your site. Repurposing material is nothing more than putting a new spin on what you’ve previously made. For instance, you may adapt a blog article into a video, infographic, or podcast.


This is a fantastic method of increasing your website’s traffic and improving your site’s search engine optimization. The greater the number of other sites that link back to yours, the higher you’ll appear in SERPs. Why not give it a go, then?


Prioritize creating relevant content


Prioritizing the creation of relevant content is one of the finest techniques to earn free high-quality backlinks. Publishing relevant material to your audience will result in inbound links from related websites.


Reach out to websites you believe may be interested in connecting to your material and politely request a backlink. Most website owners will gladly share a link if the information is useful and relevant.


Lastly, use social media to spread the word about your posts. Using social media like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to spread your links can increase your exposure and lead to more high-quality inbound links.


Create infographics


It’s time to put your newfound knowledge to use now that you know how to get free backlinks to your website. Infographics are a fantastic medium for gaining authoritative inbound links and disseminating information graphically.


The Difference Between Referring Domains and Backlinks


Two of the most important factors in search engine optimization are referring domains and backlinks. However, they each affect your website’s rating in unique ways.


The main difference between referring domains and backlinks – the referring domain to a phone number and the number of times you’ve received calls from that number to the number of times they’ve linked back to your site is a useful analogy.


In general, backlinks are hyperlinks that lead the user back to the originating website, whereas referring domains are the websites and web pages that create backlinks.


Referring domains are always the source of backlinks. A referring domain is any website that creates a backlink or brings visitors to your site.


Parameter Referring Domains Backlinks
Definition Referring domains are websites that link to yours, hoping their visitors will check out your site. Quite simply, a website that creates connections to your own.
How They Relate Referring domains are the source of backlinks. Inbound links are created by websites that connect to yours.
Function More traffic and evidence of your site’s authority or trustworthiness come from sites that link to it. You may boost your site’s traffic and authority with the help of backlinks.
SEO Impact To boost your site’s SEO, it’s best to have links from a wide range of authoritative sites. If just one or two websites link to your content, Google may penalize you. Your search engine rankings may benefit from a wide range of backlinks from reputable referring sites. A low number of backlinks or connections from bogus sites might hurt your search engine rankings.
How to Track Use Google Search Console or a paid tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush. Use Google Search Console or a paid tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush.
Alternate terms Linking domains Incoming links or inbound links


Also Read: A Guide to Digital PR and Why It’s Important for SEO and Link Building? – 2023 Guide




Suppose you want to increase your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) traffic. In that case, you need to familiarise yourself with key SEO concepts like referring domains and backlinks. People just learning these concepts typically confuse them and start using them interchangeably, which completely obliterates the little distinctions between referring domains and external backlinks.


Domains that generate backlinks are referred to as “referring domains.” Conversely, backlinks lead the user back to the website they came from. Referring domains provide a multitude of backlinks.


When comparing referring domains vs. backlinks in SEO, their roles and ramifications in search engine optimization and website ranking, the two are quite different.


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