Untangling Backlinks and Referring Domains: Unveiling the Distinction

3 min read

To ensure a successful SEO campaign, it is crucial to grasp the disparity between backlinks and referring domains, regardless of your understanding of the significance of backlinks in SEO.

The primary issue is that augmenting the number of backlinks alone will only substantially impact your SEO if you concurrently increase the quantity of referring domains. Having one website link to you multiple times is far less influential than having 100 websites link to you individually.

Consequently, your objective should not solely involve acquiring as many backlinks as possible but focus on obtaining more referring domains.

Furthermore, comprehending the interplay of  backlinks vs referring domains is essential for conducting a comprehensive backlink audit. While you may observe an abundance of links and perceive your backlink profile as impressive, a disproportionately high ratio of backlinks to referring domains indicates a weak link profile. Such a profile can potentially attract penalties from Google, as it implies dubious link-building practices like engaging in paid linking schemes or utilizing a private blog network.


The Impact of Referring Domains and Backlinks on SEO


In the realm of SEO, referring domains and backlinks play significant roles in shaping the success of your website.

Backlinks serve as a form of endorsement, reflecting other websites’ confidence in yours. When reputable sources provide backlinks (essentially casting votes) to your website, Google perceives it as a positive indicator, leading to higher rankings.

However, it’s important to note that not all backlinks hold equal weight. The authority of a backlink depends on various factors. Firstly, relevance is key. A webpage backlink covering a similar topic to your own holds more value than one from an unrelated source.

Secondly, the anchor text of the backlink matters. Search engines rely on this text to understand the linked page’s content. Consequently, descriptive anchor text is beneficial, while generic phrases like “click here” offer less value. Incorporating relevant keywords into the anchor text can be potent, although avoiding over-optimization is crucial, as it can lead to penalties from Google.

Additionally, the authority of the website providing the backlink holds significance. A backlink from a highly esteemed website, such as The Washington Post, carries more weight than one from a newly established site.

Nevertheless, low-authority backlinks hold value and do not harm your site’s ranking.

Similar to backlinks, referring domains act as endorsements and influence the authority of each backlink. Like not all backlinks are created equal, some referring domains are superior to others. The metrics for evaluating the quality of a referring domain largely align with those used for backlinks.

Referring domains attain higher quality status when they are relevant to your website and are regarded as trusted authorities by search engines.


Looking to enhance your backlinks and referring domains?


Explore these three effective strategies for achieving your goal.

  1. Developing unique content is one of the most effective approaches to organically garnering high-quality backlinks and referring domains over time. When your website offers valuable information, explains complex topics, or provides valuable data to support arguments, other sites will likely link to it.
  1. Take control of building backlinks and expanding referring domains by engaging in guest posting on other websites. This proactive approach allows you to create backlinks and cultivate a broader online presence.
  1. Another practical approach is to contact websites and request backlinks manually. This strategy is most successful when coupled with the creation of high-quality content.




It is crucial to grasp the distinction of referring domains vs backlinks. Backlinks refer to the links directed to your website from other sites, while referring domains represent the websites responsible for providing those links. It’s important to note that even if you have multiple backlinks from a single site, it counts as only one referring domain.

To enhance your website’s rankings, focusing on increasing backlinks and referring domains is essential. A well-rounded SEO strategy involves improving both elements’ quantity and quality.

If you’re seeking assistance in boosting your site’s backlinks and referring domains, we recommend exploring our monthly SEO packages. These packages provide comprehensive support and help you achieve your SEO goals.

Shilpi Mathur
[email protected]