With 1.5 billion websites out there today, it’s a struggle to make yours stand out on Google. The secret lies in SEO and positioning your brand on that first page.  

Improving your website’s SEO and Google rankings involves focusing on a few key areas like quality content, the right keywords, speedy site loading, and optimizing your page. But one big factor is getting high authority websites to link back to yours. 

So, what are backlinks and referring domains, and why do they matter for SEO? And what’s the difference between them? Let us break down how backlinks and referring domains affect your SEO by clarifying the distinction between the two and how to maximize both to your advantage. 

What is a Backlink? 

A backlink is a link from one website to another. It’s also called an inbound link. Backlinks can take different forms. Usually, they are links embedded within the text, and the text containing the link is called anchor text. But they can also be in: 

  • Images 
  • Buttons 
  • Infographics 
  • and more. 

What is a Referring Domain? 

A referring domain is basically any website that links back to yours. In simpler terms, when other sites have links pointing to yours, they’re called referring domains. These external websites that direct traffic to your site are often called referring domains or linking domains. 

For example, if Site A has a couple of links pointing to Site B, then Site A is considered a referring domain for Site B. Even if Site A has multiple links to Site B, it still counts as just one referring domain. 

Understanding the Difference: Backlinks and Referring Domains 

Having a solid set of links pointing to your site helps you rank higher for your target keywords, bringing in more visitors naturally. And within this link-building world, we have two main players: backlinks and referring domains. Let’s break down the basics. 

A backlink is a link from another website that leads directly to a specific page on your site. So, when someone clicks on that link, they’re taken straight to your page. Usually, other sites link to yours when they find your content helpful or interesting.  

These links can be in text, images, videos, you name it—basically, wherever you can click. Referring domains are like the neighborhoods where those highways start. They’re the websites sending traffic your way. And you can have lots of them pointing to your site at once. 

Referring Domains vs Backlinks: How Do They Impact SEO? 

How do backlinks and referring domains affect SEO? They’re important because Google pays a lot of attention to them when deciding how to rank a website. 

Backlinks from top referring domains are especially crucial for bringing in organic traffic. In fact, research shows that around 90.63% of pages without any referring domains don’t get much search traffic from Google.  

So, if you don’t have good quality referring domains linking to your site, you might miss out on a lot of: 

  • Potential visitors 
  • Interaction 
  • Sales 

How to Check Backlinks and Referring Domains 

Checking your website’s backlinks and referring domains is simple with SEO tools. Just go to the “Backlinks” tab, type in your domain’s URL, and hit search. You’ll instantly see how many backlinks and referring domains your site has, along with ratings for each. 

Scrolling down, you’ll find a list of all your backlinks. Keep an eye out for any spammy-looking ones you don’t want. If you spot any, you can use Google’s Disavow Tool to get rid of them and keep your site clean. 

How to Use Google Search Console to Find Backlinks & Referring Domains 

Here’s how to use Google Search Console to find backlinks and referring domains: 

  • First, if you don’t have a Google Search Console account yet, create one and verify your domain. 
  • Once that’s done, go to the left sidebar and click on the links report. 
  • In the report, you’ll see two main columns: 
      • External links: Here, you’ll find info on which of your pages have the most backlinks, which domains are linking to you the most, and what anchor text is commonly used in those links.
      • Internal links: This section shows which pages on your site are most linked to from other pages within your site.
  • Clicking on “more” in any of these sections will give you further details, like the following: 
  • how many domains are linking to your pages 
  • how many backlinks you’re getting from a specific domain 
  • how many of your site’s pages are being linked to. 

That’s it! Simple steps to help you understand your site’s backlinks and referring domains better. 

Simple Tips for Building Referring Domains and Backlinks 

Looking to boost your website’s backlinks and referring domains? Here are three ways you can try: 

1. Craft Amazing Content  

Creating quality content is a surefire way to attract new, high-quality backlinks and referring domains over time. When your content offers value, solves problems, or presents unique insights, other websites naturally want to link to it.  

Here are some types of content that tend to attract backlinks: 

  • Studies and surveys with interesting stats 
  • Comprehensive guides and how-to articles 
  • Thought-provoking opinion pieces 
  • Round-up posts summarizing expert opinions 
  • Engaging infographics 

Remember, the key is quality. Your content needs to stand out from what’s already out there to catch attention. 

2. Guest Post on Other Websites  

Don’t wait for links to come to you—go out and get them by guest posting on other sites. This involves writing articles for other websites in your niche and including links back to your own site.  

Look for reputable sites that accept guest posts, either by checking your competitors’ backlink profiles or using Google searches with parameters like “guest post” + your topic. 

3. Reach Out to Websites Directly  

Take the initiative and reach out to websites directly to request backlinks. This approach works best when you have outstanding content to offer. You can use techniques like the skyscraper method, where you create superior content to that of your competitors and then ask sites linking to them to link to yours instead. 

Remember to study your competitors’ backlink profiles to understand the landscape in your industry and identify opportunities for gaining links. 

By following these simple strategies, you can start building your backlinks and referring domains to improve your website’s SEO and visibility. 

Choosing the Right Strategy: Backlinks or Referring Domains? 

In simple terms, having more referring domains is usually better than just having lots of backlinks. Referring domains show Google which sites are popular and trustworthy. So, aim to get as many different websites as possible linking to yours. 

But don’t forget about quality. It’s not just about quantity. You need to make sure the websites linking back to you are good ones. If you get links from low-quality sites, Google might punish your website. 

Maximize the Power of Backlinks and Referring Domains 

If you’re focused on SEO, you understand that building links is key for ranking. Mastering the art of getting backlinks and referring domains is crucial. But it’s a time-consuming and frustrating task if not done properly. Don’t fall into the trap of hiring cheap freelancers who may not deliver quality results. 

Let BrandLume handle your SEO needs. With our expert services, you can trust that your link building will be done right, saving you time and money. 

FAQs About Backlinks and Referring Domains 

What’s the best approach: getting backlinks from many different domains or a few domains with lots of backlinks? 

For SEO, it’s way better to have links from many different domains related to your niche rather than just a few domains with lots of backlinks. Google considers both the number and quality of unique domains linking to you. 

Are Backlinks Like Referrals? 

Backlinks do bring traffic and authority to your website, but they’re not the same as referring domains. The website that links to yours is actually the referrer. 

What Are Referral Links? 

A referral link appears similar to any other link, but it contains a special code used for tracking. These links are often utilized in affiliate marketing.