Are you not sure about the difference between referring domains and backlinks? Then you’ve come to the right place.
Referring domains and backlinks can be a complex topic, but understanding the difference between them can help you create smarter SEO strategies and improve your website’s presence on Google.
In this article, We’ll define:
- Referring domains
- Explain the differences between referring domains vs backlinks
- Show you how both impact your SEO
- Provide best practices for building more referring domains and backlinks
If you’re ready to get clarity on referring domains vs backlinks, then let’s begin.
Why Do People Think Referring Domains and Backlinks Are the Same?
It’s no surprise that many confuse referring domains and backlinks, with many thinking they are exactly the same thing. The difference in definitions between a backlink and a referring domain is slight, and you have to have a good grasp of SEO and the internet in general to understand the difference.
Let us try to explain by providing you with both definitions.
What Is a Backlink?
A backlink is simply a hyperlink between websites. They can also be known as inbound links.
A backlink can come in various forms. Typically links are embedded into text, and the words that contain the link are known as anchor text. But they can also be embedded in images, buttons, infographics, and many other ways.
Backlinks are the primary way website crawlers like Googlebot use to move around the web. They use backlinks to move from page to page and use the anchor text to understand what each new page is about. That’s why anchor text is important for SEO.
There’s no limit to the number of backlinks you can receive, and you can get multiple backlinks from the same site. For example, when one webpage links to another web page, you’ve got a single backlink. If that website links to ten pages on your website, you’ve got ten backlinks.
Only some kinds of links are backlinks, however. Links between pages on your own site are called internal links. Here’s an example:
What Is a Referring Domain?
A referring domain is a website that links to your website. While backlinks describe the relationship between pages, referring domains describe the relationship between entire websites.
Referring domains are also counted differently from backlinks. While a website can give you thousands of backlinks, it can only be counted as a single referring domain. It’s why you’ll see websites with millions of backlinks but only a few thousand referring domains.
Why Are These Differences Important?
You can’t create a great SEO campaign if you don’t understand the difference between backlinks and referring domains — even if you understand how important backlinks are for SEO.
Here’s the main problem; increasing backlinks won’t significantly impact your SEO if you aren’t also increasing the number of referring domains. Getting one site to link to you 100 times isn’t half as powerful as getting 100 different sites to link to you once.
Your goal, therefore, should not be to get as many backlinks as possible, but to get as many referring domains as possible.
You also need to understand the relationship between referring domains and backlinks to run a backlink audit. You may see loads of links and think your backlink profile is great. But if you have a very high backlink to referring domain ratio, your link profile is very weak. In some cases, Google may penalize you for this kind of profile because it suggests shady link-building tactics like a paid linking scheme or a private blog network.
Referring Domains vs Backlinks: How Do They Impact SEO?
Backlinks and referring domains are both important to your site’s SEO efforts.
Backlinks act as a vote of confidence for your website. The more backlinks (votes) you have from trusted sources, the higher Google will rate your website.
But not all backlinks are created equal. Some are considered more authoritative than others and carry more weight.
Several factors determine the authority of a backlink. One is the relevance of the web page providing the link. A backlink from a page on the same topic as your website is much more valuable than a link from a page covering some.