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If website growth is your ultimate goal, then knowing the differences between referring domain vs. backlink is critical to ranking high on search engines like Google. In this blog, we’ll explore the crucial differences between referring domains and backlinks, shedding light on the importance of off-page SEO in building a robust and authoritative online presence. Moreover, you will learn:

  • Some key differences between referring domain vs. backlink
  • How these factors impact SEO
  • How to check referring domain vs. backlink with tools
  • Some best practices to build referring domains and backlinks.

What Is A Backlink?

Backlinks are links from other websites pointing to yours. These are simply hyperlinks from one website (the referring domain) leading to your website. Backlinks are also referred to as inbound or incoming links.  A website or web page can have multiple backlinks. They are also referred to as inbound or incoming links.

Backlinks are essential to SEO because they demonstrate to search engines that your website is valuable and relevant.

The more backlinks your website has, the higher it will rank in search engines. This is because Google understands if other credible websites link to your website, it is popular and authoritative.

what is a backlink

See more: what is link building?

What Is Referring Domain? 

Referring domains are those websites having backlinks that link to yours.

For instance, if a web page has a backlink from the Elle, it has one referring domain. It has two referring domains if it has links from the Elle and Forbes. It still has one referring domain if it has two backlinks from the Elle.

Referring Domain vs Backlink: What’s The Difference?

There are mainly eight difference points between referring domain vs backlink as below:

Parameters of ComparisonBacklinksReferring Domains
DefinitionBacklinks are hyperlinks that redirect the reader to the original website or web page.Referring domains are the websites that generate backlinks.
Alternative Terms of ReferenceInbound links or one-way links.Linking domains.
RelationshipBacklinks are products of referring domains.Referring domains produce backlinks.
Role in SEO Traffic PrioritizationSEO and a site’s prioritization are hampered if it has backlinks from only a few referring domains.When a variety of high-quality referring domains are used, the SEO value is increased.
FunctionIncrease a website’s crawl frequency.Drive referral traffic to websites.
ImplicationGoogle may penalize a page with too many backlinks from the same referring domain.No problem if a website or web page has multiple referring domain links.
ExclusivityAll backlinks are generated from referring domains.All referring domains may not produce the same backlink to a website.
Tracking ProcessBacklinks can be tracked by Google Webmaster tools.Referring domains can be tracked under the Analytics Referrals section.

Backlinks vs Referring Domain: How Do They Impact SEO?

Backlinks vs Referring Domain: How Do They Impact SEO


Backlinks are a vote of confidence in your website. The more backlinks (votes) your website receives from reputable sources, the higher Google will rank it.

However, some backlinks are more authoritative and carry more weight than others. Several factors determining  a backlink’s authority are :

  • The importance and authority of the website that provides the link. A backlink from a page covering the same topic as your website is far more valuable than a link from an irrelevant page. A backlink from a highly authoritative website like The Washington Post will carry more weight than a brand-new website.
  • The anchor text for the link. It is ideal if the link has descriptive anchor text instead of a phrase like “click here” because search engines utilize this language to determine the content of a page. It can be quite beneficial to use a keyword in the anchor text, but it’s simple to over-optimize links and get punished by Google.

Referring Domain

Referring domains act as votes of confidence and can influence the authority of each backlink. Some referring domains are better than others, just like backlinks. The metrics used to assess the quality of a referring domain are the same as those used to determine the quality of backlinks.

  • Referring domains are more valuable if they are relevant to your website and are regarded as authoritative by search engines.
  • Backlinks from high-quality referring domains are essential for increasing organic traffic. An Ahrefs study shows that approximately 90.63% of pages with no referring domains do not receive organic Google search traffic. If you do not have high-quality referring domains linking to your target web pages, you will risk losing potential traffic, engagement, and sales.

How to Check Backlinks and Referring Domains

Once you understand the difference between backlinks vs. referring domains and their importance to your website, you can evaluate your website using SEO assistance such as Google Search Console, AHREFs, and Majestic.

Google Search Console (GSC)

Google Search Console (GSC) is a free Google tool providing data on your website’s search traffic and performance. GSC contains data on your website’s search engine visibility, impressions, clicks, and average position. You can also view information about your website’s backlinks and referring domains, such as the total number of links and referring domains, anchor text, and destination pages.

Google Search Console (GSC)


Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO toolkit for increasing search traffic and optimizing websites. Ahrefs accomplishes this by crawling the web, storing massive amounts of data, and making it accessible via a simple user interface. websites that lead back to your website. 

You can use the Ahrefs checker to see:

  • Actionable and insightful SEO metrics for any website, 
  • URL, 
  • Subsection. 
  • The number of referring domains and backlinks, 
  • URL Rating (UR)
  • Domain Rating (DR)
  • Ahrefs Rank (AR)


Majestic SEO is a link analysis-focused SEO software tool. Majestic includes numerous tools for accessing and interpreting its backlinks database. It is constantly expanding its functionality in response to user requests. 

Majestic’s main features consist of:

  • Backlinks profiles
  • Link context analysis and visualization
  • Dashboards and reporting and exports
  • URL submission and site crawl
  • Comparisons and discovery
  • Archaeology

Best Practices To Build Referring Domains and Backlinks

Create High-Quality Content

Producing amazing content is one of the best ways to steadily raise the quantity of high-quality backlinks and referring domains. Other websites will naturally link to yours if your content provides significant value to their readers, assists them in explaining a complex topic, or provides a valuable data point to support their argument.

There are certain types of content you can create to generate backlinks:

  • Surveys and studies that yield insights and statistics
  • Comprehensive guides and how-to posts
  • Thought leadership pieces, especially those that present a different perspective
  • Round-up posts
  • Infographics

Remember that quality is the key regardless of the type of content you create. If you want to attract links, it must be clearly superior to the current content on Google’s first page.

Guest Post on Other Sites

Guest Post on Other Sites

Guest posting on other websites is an excellent way to increase your backlinks and referring domains. When writing a guest post, you will usually be able to include one or two links to your website in the main body of your blog post. You can also include a link to your website in your author bio.

You can start by finding high-quality sites that accept guest posts. There are several approaches to this. One strategy is to examine your competitors’ backlink profiles and identify sites where they have previously guest posted.

Another way is to find websites that accept guest posts in your niche using Google search parameters.

Reach Out to Other Websites

You can also contact any website and ask for a backlink. When combined with high-quality content, this strategy works best.

Many site owners will link to your new article if it provides enough value.

To fully understand the general landscape in your industry and what you need to compete with, you’ll need to examine your competitors’ backlink profiles.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, they are not. Backlinks are hyperlinks that lead to your website from another website. A referring domain is a website that contains a link to your website. Although a single website can provide numerous backlinks, it only counts as one referring domain.

Lost domains are domains you have lost backlinks from within the past 3 months.This means that Google may still consider their value when analyzing your domain’s backlink profile. Because the link was lost recently, you still have a chance to recover it and maintain your SEO status.

Three ways to build referring domains are 

  • Creating high-quality content
  • Writing guest posts on other sites relevant to your industry 
  • Reaching out to other websites to ask for a backlink to your posts

A subdomain is an extension to your main domain name. Subdomains are used to organize and navigate your website’s various sections. It enables websites to separate and organize content for a specific function, such as a blog or an online store, from the rest of their site.

What is a subdomain in SEO?


Referring domain vs. backlink have a mutual relationship and impact the off-page SEO of your website. Understanding the differences between these terms and related tools will help you to build a good backlink and referring domain strategy.

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