Backlinks vs Referring Domains: Difference and Comparison

This difference in their respective definitions is more pronouncedly expressed in the function performed by each. Backlinks are used to improve the crawl frequency of a given website, while a referring domain drives referral traffic to the website or web page.


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Key Takeaways

  1. Backlinks are hyperlinks that point from one website to another and can improve the search engine rankings of the target website.
  2. Referring domains are websites that contain backlinks pointing to a target website.
  3. A website with high-quality backlinks and referring domains will likely have a higher search engine ranking than one with low-quality backlinks.

Backlinks vs Referring Domains

The difference between backlinks and referring domains is that backlinks guide the user to the original website while referring domains are websites and web pages that generate these hyperlinks.

Backlinks vs Referring Domains

Backlinks are always products of referring domains. Any domain that generates a backlink or sends referral traffic to a given site is called a referring domain.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonBacklinksReferring Domains
DefinitionSEO and a site’s prioritisation are hampered if it has backlinks from only a few referring domains.Referring domains are the websites or web pages that generate backlinks.
Alternative Terms of ReferenceBacklinks are also called inbound links and one-way links.Referring domains are also called linking domains.
RelationshipBacklinks are products of referring domains.Referring domains produce backlinks.
Role in SEO Traffic PrioritizationSEO value is amplified if a variety of referring domains is used.SEO value is amplified if a variety of referring domains are used.
FunctionBacklinks tend to improve the crawl frequency of a website.Referring domains operate to drive referral traffic to websites.
ImplicationGoogle may take steps to penalize a page if it has too many backlinks from the same referring domain.No such step is taken if a website or web page has multiple referring domain links.
ExclusivityAll backlinks are generated from referring domains.All referring domains may not produce the same backlink to a website.
Tracking ProcessBacklinks can be tracked using Google Webmaster tools.Referring domains can be tracked under the Analytics Referrals section.

What are Backlinks?

Backlinks are links for one website or web page visible on another. They are also known as inbound links or one-way links. As a hyperlink, it redirects the user to the original website.

Backlinks are important to boost the SEO values of websites. They act as votes that attest to the value and credibility of the website’s content. In other words, backlinks are essentially ranking signals for Google.

Backlinks can be embedded in the images or texts on the website. Their value is ascertained based on the link location, site diversity, etc.

Backlinks add value to a website’s search engine ranking only when they are from various unique referring domains that are, in turn, trusted and reliable. If a web page has too many backlinks from a limited number of referring domains, the rank evaluation of the site drops drastically.


What are Referring Domains?

Referring domains are external websites that create links to direct traffic to other websites. They are also known as linking domains. Referring domains drive referral traffic by creating backlinks. The function of such domains is to drive SEO traffic to specific websites through multiple backlinks.

Referring domains are known as backlink generators. Through backlinks, a user is redirected to a specific web page. A single referring domain may create many backlinks to one website. Referring domains are important because they connote content credibility on a web page.

The more referring domain links available on a web page, the more reliable the content is. One must have backlinks from the most trusted referring domains to attain the ace position within organic traffic generation.

referring domains

Main Differences Between Backlinks and Referring Domains

  1. The main difference between backlinks and referring domains is that the former connotes the hyperlinks that lead the reader back to a particular website. In contrast, the latter refers to the website or web page that produces the backlinks.
  2. Backlinks and referring domains also differ in terms of the function each performs. While backlinks are created to improve the crawl frequency of a website, referring domains operate to drive referral traffic to websites.
  3. Backlinks are called inbound links or one-way links while referring domains are called linking domains.
  4. Another difference between the two can be ascertained when the relationship is assessed. Only referring domains can produce backlinks. Hence, they are the originators of backlinks. Similarly, backlinks are always the product of referring domains.
  5. Backlinks can be tracked through the Google Webmaster tool, while referring domains can be tracked through Google Analytics. Referral domain numbers are specified under the referrals section of the Analytics tool.
  6. Another difference can be noted in terms of exclusivity. All backlinks are generated from referring domains, while all referring domains might not produce the same backlink to the website.
  7. Referring to domain links from various websites helps augment a website’s priority within a given search engine’s algorithm. However, too many backlinks from one website can be a negative SEO practice.
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