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Referring Domains vs Backlinks: What Is The Major Difference?

Learn what is the difference between referring domains and backlinks. Complete guide on which one is better for your website.
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We hear two common terms "referring domains" and "backlinks" when we learn about website ranking and search engine optimization. But if you don't know the meaning of these words and the difference between them then don't worry you come to the right place.

What is a Backlink?

A backlink is a hyperlink to a website from another website. In simple words, when another website gives a link to your website on its page then that link is called a backlink to your website. Backlinks are the links that help search engines to find your website through other popular websites so it is useful for improving your visibility in search results.

What is a Referring Domain?

Referring Domains vs Backlinks

Referring domain is a website that has several backlinks that target your website or website page. A domain that links to your website is known as the referring domain for your website. The referring domain refers to your website in many ways by giving anchor text, image links, comment links, profile links, etc.

Difference between Referring Domains and Backlinks

Referring domains refer to the domains that link to your website link while backlinks refer to the number of links given by referring domains to your website. This means that the referring domain is the link between the entire website but the backlink is the link between the pages of the website.

For example, a website links two of its pages to your website so for your website, those two links become backlinks and that website domain becomes the referring domain.

Referring Domains vs Backlinks

Now the question is which one is more important for us out of backlinks or referring domains and what is their impact on our website? So let's see how both of these are beneficial for our website.

Referring domains increase your trust with search engines and audience. But keep in mind that not all referring domains have the same value so it will be more beneficial if you get referring domains from high-authority sites like Wikipedia.

The referring domain shows the relation of your website with other sites on the internet and that is why the referring domain is one of the major ranking factors.

Backlinks are also important to your website as they help search engines to find your website and rank your website on relevant keywords. Therefore If you get backlinks from relevant sources and related content of your website then there are high chances of getting a good rank on your targeted keywords.

You can take multiple backlinks from the same website but you will get only one referring domain from one website. So increasing the number of referring domains is difficult as compared to increasing backlinks.

Why are these differences important?

If you want to rank your website on top search results then first you need to understand the importance of backlinks and referring domains. You will never be able to run a successful SEO campaign if you do not know the difference between them.

The ratio of backlinks per referring domain is a very important factor for your ranking. If you get a lot of backlinks from only one domain then search engines consider it a bad SEO technique.

If you know the difference between backlinks and referring domain then you can easily understand that backlinks only help search engines to find your page and get you to traffic from other sites, it does not increase your rank. But the number of referring domains increases your trust among visitors and search engines, so it will improve your rank exponentially.

That means getting 10 backlinks from 10 different domains is many times better than getting 10 backlinks from a single domain. So you should focus on increasing the number of referring domains rather than increasing backlinks.

How to find Backlinks and Referring Domains?

You can easily check the backlinks and referring domains report of any website using online SEO tools. But before make sure that the tool you are using provides accurate data.

Ahrefs is the best tool according to my experience for checking accurate referring domains and backlinks data because Ahref crawler regularly updates the data of sites across the internet. If you want to check your backlinks and referring domains with another tool then some good tools are given below.

  1. Ahrefs
  2. SEMRush
  3. Neil Patel

Open the Ahrefs website and go to the Site Explorer menu there you will see Backlinks and Referring Domains options. There go to the backlinks and referring domains option and paste your website link and press enter to see the results.

In the above image you can see how the result is displayed. Here the Backlinks field shows the number of backlinks and the linking website shows the number of referring domains. In this way you can check the backlinks and referring domains of your website.


I hope you are understing the difference between referring domains and backlinks. If you want to increase your ranking then keep in mind that you have to increase both backlinks and referring domains, not just backlinks. If you have any more query regarding this topic then please feel free to ask in the comment box.

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