What’s The Difference Between Backlinks and Referring Domains?


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You’ve probably heard plenty of people talking about backlinks and referring domains, but you’re not sure what the difference is between the two.

If you want to rank higher on Google, then it’s important that you understand these concepts. But there are a lot of conflicting opinions out there about how to get more backlinks or referring domains for your site.

This article will explain exactly what each of these terms means and shows you how to use them correctly in your SEO efforts.

First, we’ll explain what a backlink is and how they differ from referring domains.

What is a Backlink?

A backlink is a link from a page on one website to a different website.

The link itself takes the visitor away from the first site and onto another.

For example, if someone writes an article on their site linking to your site, then this is considered a backlink.

You can also get backlinks from forums and social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

There are tons of places online where you can add a link to your website in order to gain traffic from another site’s visitors.

A backlink is the simplest way to get traffic from other websites because it’s a direct line of referral to your site.

Backlinks are also important because search engines like Google use them to determine how important your site is.

It’s a good idea to get as many backlinks as possible because this helps you rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

However, you need to make sure that the backlinks you receive are from high-quality websites to prevent Google from penalizing your site.

What is a Referring Domain?

A referring domain is the site that contains the link to your website.

For example, if there’s a backlink on http://www.website.com/article-name/, then the referring domain would be http://www.website.com.

In other words, a referring domain is the domain of the web page where your link is located.

Oftentimes, people will use the term backlink when referring to a referring domain.

This is because they’re technically the same thing and you can’t have one without the other.

However, it’s important to understand the difference between the two.

What’s the difference between Referring Domains and Backlinks?

The distinction is that backlinks are hyperlinks that connect one website to another.

In contrast, referring domains are websites from which the target website or web page has one or more backlinks.

Some people can get confused with these terms, but it’s pretty straightforward once you understand the difference.

Here’s an example of backlink vs referring domain:

To illustrate the difference, let’s say that you have a website about Digital Marketing.

Then, through online research, you find another site related to your topic at http://www.digitalmarketinglikeaboss.com/

If someone wrote an article on that website linking to yours, then the link would be considered a backlink (because it takes visitors away from their site and onto yours).

The site that contains the backlink is referred to as the referring domain.

In this case, http://www.digitalmarketinglikeaboss.com/ would be the referring domain to your site because it’s the site where your link is located.

Looking to build more links to your site? These resources from our blog should help:

So which one is better?

Backlinks vs Referring Domains: Which one is better?

Typically speaking, it’s better to have more referring domains than backlinks.

This is because the number of referring domains tells Google which sites are most popular and trusted (Resource: Ahrefs)

how referring domains affect search traffic - resource made by ahref
Image Resource Credit: Ahrefs

Your goal should be to get as many referring domains linking to your site as possible.

However, it’s also important to look at the quality of the websites that are linking back to you.

You can’t just accept any website because Google might penalize you for getting backlinks from bad websites.

How to check backlinks and referring domains?

It’s pretty simple to check backlinks and referring domains.

There are a number of websites that offer SEO tools where you can see your website’s backlinks and referring domains.

Here are a few examples:

  • Ahrefs – Ahrefs is probably the most popular tool for getting in-depth information on all of your backlinks and referring domains.
  • Majestic – Majestic is another good website for finding backlinks, referring domains, and related SEO metrics.
  • Google Webmaster Tools – If you have a Google account, then you can check the backlinks and referring domains in your webmaster tools dashboard (FREE)
  • Ubersuggest – Another free SEO tool that can help you find URLs that link back to your website.

At Goldie Agency we prefer to use Ahrefs – Ahref’s Domain Rating tends to be the most comprehensive score of a website’s authority.

Some people use Moz’s DA crawler or SEMRush, but it isn’t as comprehensive as Ahref’s DR scale.

Ahrefs has a much bigger database of websites and they spend a million dollars a month maintaining their crawler.

The Bottom Line

If you’re serious about SEO, then you know that link building is one of the most important ranking factors. It’s super important to master the art of acquiring backlinks and referring domains.

However, it’s also a very time-consuming task and can be extremely frustrating if not done right.

Many people outsource their SEO work and hire cheap freelancers who don’t understand the value of good content or how to build links properly. This leads to a lot of wasted time and money on poor quality results.

Our team will help establish an effective link building strategy for your business or organization, which includes finding high-quality websites that are relevant to yours and getting them to link back to yours (With the Skyscraper Technique).

We’ll also make sure that we stay within Google’s guidelines so that they don’t penalize or blacklist your site.

You won’t have to worry about anything; just sit back while we get your site ranked higher than ever!

Book a FREE strategy session with us now.

Alternatively, if you prefer to do it yourself, then make sure to get our SEO Link Building Mastery Course.

In this course, we show you how to acquire the best backlinks and referring domains for your website or web page.

You can still outsource some of the work if you don’t have enough time on your hands, but at least you’ll know exactly what needs to be done.


Are referring domains and backlinks the same?

Not exactly, but they are closely related. A backlink is a link that points to your site from any other website. A referring domain is the site where the backlink originates from.

What is the difference between links and backlinks?

A link is a connection between two pieces of content. A backlink is an external link that points to your website or web page from any other site. You can have both links and backlinks on the same webpage.

What are referring links?

A referral link looks like any other link, but it’s got a unique code for tracking purposes. They’re commonly used in affiliate marketing.

Which is better, to get backlinks from a lot of different domains or from a few domains with a lot of backlinks?

In terms of SEO value, it’s much better to have links from a lot of different domains (related to your niche) compared to a few domains with a lot of backlinks. This is because Google looks at the number of unique domains that are linking to you as well as the quality of those domains.

Julian Goldie

Julian Goldie

Hey, I'm Julian Goldie! I'm an SEO link builder and founder of Goldie Agency. My mission is to help website owners like you grow your business with SEO!


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