Referring Domains vs Backlinks: What’s the Difference and Why They Matter?

Knowing the difference between referring domains vs backlinks is important to creating a successful link-building strategy to generate more organic traffic to your website. Discover how referring domains and backlinks are interconnected below:

Referring Domains vs Backlinks

A website’s SEO and Google rankings depend on multiple factors which include SEO-friendly URLs, quality content, on-page optimization, site speed, website architecture, keyword density, off-page optimization, etc. However, off-page optimization also plays an important role in creating backlinks and increasing the number of high-quality backlinks and referring domains.

If you want to learn more about the difference between referring domains and backlinks, you’re in the right place. In this article, we will discuss –

  • What are backlinks?
  • What are referring domains?
  • What is the difference between referring domains and backlinks?

Quality and quantity of website backlinks and referring domains are important aspects to determine the website ranking in search engine ranking pages. Let’s start a journey towards off-page optimization to secure a top spot in Google search engine result pages. 

What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks are usually hyperlinks that direct from one website to another. You can get multiple backlinks from a single website.
The primary reason for backlinks is to build a path between two web pages. A backlink can provide information about a topic, cite sources, or guide users to relevant content. Additionally, backlinks assist crawlers in getting a better understanding of what your webpage is all about and the credibility of the source of information.

A web page can receive backlinks from blog posts, social media posts, or from service pages. Generally, links are embedded in text, with the linked words referred to as anchor text. A backlink can be multiple places on a webpage in various forms –

  • Anchor text
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Call to action buttons. 

What Are Referring Domains?

A referring domain is a website that offers you a link back to your website, serving as the source of one or more backlinks to a target web page/website. Linking domains describe the relationship between entire websites. Referring domains are calculated differently. A website can have so many backlinks from a specific domain but it can be considered as a single referring domain. 

The quality of referring domains affects how Google perceives its links, so it is important to focus on getting backlinks from authoritative referring domains. 

Let’s see how the referring domain works –

Suppose, you get multiple backlinks from AdBizzO means the website has one referring domain. But if you receive links from AdBizzO and Anuja Singh Digital, it has two referring domains. 

Some websites give you links to add some reference to their web content as referring domains are treated as a sign of trust and authority. 

How Does Referring Domain Help In Building Domain Authority?

Domain authority is an important factor in determining the quality of referring domains. The domain authority (DA) is a score ranging from 0 to 100 that measures the domain’s credibility. 

DA is generally based on the following criteria –

  • SEO performance
  • Number of backlinks and their quality
  • Content quality
  • Social signals and traffic

Multiple referring domains from higher domain authority websites can help you with SEO because it sends signals to other websites Google that your website is valuable and trustworthy. Getting a backlink from higher domain authority websites indicates to Google that reputable websites trust you which improves your SEO even more!

How Do Backlinks And Referring Domains Affect Websites’ SEO?

What has a powerful impact on SEO: referring domain vs backlinks?

Backlinks and referring domains both are important for SEO as they are key factors that Google considers while ranking a website. 

There are multiple types of backlinks but not all of them are constructed similarly. The significance of backlink increases significantly if it fulfills the specific criteria that include –

Credible Source

The backlink you receive should be from an authoritative referring domain. 


The backlink will direct visitors to the useful content of your website such as an informative blog or a blog.


Backlinks generate traffic for your website and it should not be hidden in the footer text. 

Off-page optimization usually works as anchor text for a backlink which makes a backlink a great example of a contextual and keyword-rich anchor link. 

Why Are Referring Domains Authoritative?

Search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. index webpages to collect key information about a topic that includes the topic of the page, structure, and user experience. Search engines use backlinks as signals to determine a page’s authority on different topics. Online reviews also act as an important factor in evaluating the website’s authority. 

Website backlink profiles should have links from multiple highly authoritative domains. To maximize SEO benefits, referring domains should be –

Reliable & Trustworthy

Receiving a link from a prestigious and trusted website can improve your website ranking while getting a link from spammy and poor websites can harm it. Google evaluates every backlink for credibility and guides to help developers determine whether the backlink website is high-quality and trustworthy.


After obtaining a backlink from a domain, each added link from the same domain has less impact on your SERP rankings. It is good to have multiple website endorsements from multiple websites rather than getting backlinks from a single site.

Difference Between Backlinks & Referring Domains

Referring Domains vs Backlinks

Methods to Check Backlinks and Referring Domains

To build an effective link-building strategy, start by analyzing your current backlink profile. Discover which websites are currently linked with your website, which pages receive the most links, and analyze the sources of those backlinks. 

You can check backlinks and referring domains with the help of Google and other website analysis tools such as Google Search Console, Google Analytics, SEMrush, or Ahrefs, etc. 

How To Check Backlinks & Referring Domains Via Google Search Console

If you don’t own a Google Search Console Account, create an account and submit your domain for verification. After submitting your domain and verification, you are ready to get started. 

Under links, you can find – External links and Internal links. 

External Links

External links indicate which of your web pages received the most backlinks. It has three columns – top linked pages (most linked pages), top linking websites (referring domains), and top linking text (anchor text). 

Internal Links

Internal links give you information about top-linked internal web pages with other pages of the website.

Skyrocket Your Backlink Portfolio with Anurav.Digital

At Anurav.Digital, we enhance your SEO strategy by utilizing both referring domains and backlinks. High-quality referring domains can significantly boost your website’s authority, while backlinks from highly authoritative domains can generate organic traffic and improve your search rankings.

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