Backlinks vs Referring Domains: All You Need to Know

Last updated on May 24th, 2023 at 01:15 pm

Backlinks and referring domains are major elements of SEO websites.

Understanding these two terms and how they work is important in website management.  This is primarily because referring domains and backlinks can affect a site positively or negatively.

Backlinks vs Referring Domains

Backlinks and referring domains can seem as though they are complicated topics and difficult to understand. Well, this is not true.

You can easily understand everything about backlinks and referring domains.

This article will bridge the knowledge gap between these two terms by examining what referring domains and backlinks are and how they are different yet dependent on each other in simple words that will be easy to understand.


Definition of SEO Terms

Before going on to check out more about backlinks and referring domains, let’s define these terms so that it would be easier to relate to them.

The definitions below are basic and straightforward definitions that will make the terms relatable.



A domain is the unique description of an organization as seen in a web address. For example, in the URL, “” is the domain in this web address.



A backlink is simply a link that is found on a website that refers people to another site.


Referring Domain

Referring domain also called “Ref domain” is the site or domain where a link to another website is being found, that is, it is the domain that is generating a particular backlink.

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What You Should Know About Backlinks

The definition of backlinks as given above does not provide sufficient knowledge on the subject even though it is the basic understanding of backlinks anyone should have.

Find out more on backlinks by reading further.

  • Backlinks are links found on external sites that direct people to a particular page or section of a page on a different website.
  • From the external site, backlinks can be designed as images, click buttons, text, etc. Backlinks designed as texts are made in such a way that the text is clickable. These texts are referred to as Anchor texts and they are important on Google.
  • The plus of text-like backlinks is that they provide info or give context to the website or web page that a user is being redirected to.
  • Backlinks play a huge role in increasing the search rankings for a website and expanding the relevance of a site as well as increasing the authority the site has on certain topics. This will in turn boost the SEO ranking of such a domain.
  • Backlinks serve as an endorsement from other websites. Therefore, getting backlinks from reputable sites is like being endorsed by reputable brands for a particular topic. This is how it contributes to increasing the relevance of a site. However, the site itself must have quality content as well.
  • As the number of backlinks from sites with authority on a subject increases, the website becomes better positioned on SERP.
  • Good backlinks can increase the referral traffic of a website.


What You Should Know About Referring Domain

A few things to note on referring domain are as follows:

  • Ref domains are sites that show the source of the referral traffic of a particular website.
  • A referring domain can generate more than one backlink for a website.
  • It is important for a referring domain to be of high authority as irrelevant referring domains can turn out to have a negative impact on a website.
  • The level of authority a referring domain is dependent on its relevance in a particular subject and the backlinks it has from reputable sites as far as an industry (subject) is concerned.
  • The referring domain is the determinant of the quality of the backlink it generates.
  • Each referring domain has the topics that it is reputable for. It is only those subjects that such a domain can generate a “good” backlink to another website. If such a referring site generates an irrelevant backlink, it will affect the receiving website negatively.


Backlinks Vs Referring Domain

So far, it has been established that backlinks and referring domains as SEO tools work in relation to each other.

Let’s see a summary of the relationship backlinks and referring domain.

  • Backlinks serve as an endorsement from referring domain.
  • Backlinks are the tools used to direct visitors on a website which is the referring domain to another website.
  • All backlinks are from referring domains. However, not all referring domains can create or generate backlinks.
  • More than one backlink can be created by a referring domain but a backlink can only come from a particular referring domain.
  • Search engines make use of referring domains to find out sites that are linked to another site and use backlinks to ascertain the referral traffic of the content of a website.
  • The quality of a backlink is dependent on the authority of a referring domain on a relevant subject. This means that if a referring domain is trustworthy on a particular subject, for example, foreign exchange; if the site generates a backlink for a gaming tool web page on another site, the backlink generated is irrelevant and can affect the receiving site negatively. A backlink is considered good if it comes from a referring domain that is relevant to the receiving site.

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Backlinks vs Referring Domains FAQs


How do backlinks affect the search ranking of your site?

Backlinks are similar to getting endorsements from brands. It is a good backlink if it is coming from a reputable referring domain as it pertains to the topic involved.

Getting a good backlink will increase the relevance of your website on certain topics. The effect of this will be seen positively in the search ranking of your site on such topics.

On the other hand, a weak backlink will play out negatively on the search ranking of your site.


How can your website be a referring domain with high authority?

For the authority of your website to increase, the first point of call is to ensure you choose your subject of relevance, for instance, blockchain.

Then, ensure you generate content of very good quality on the subject.

With this, when you get good backlinks plus your outstanding content, the search ranking of your website will increase as with the authority of your website too.


Is there a limitation to the number of links that can be generated by a referring domain?

No notable limit of backlinks that can be generated by a referring domain has been established.

However, having a particular ref. domain generates a lot of backlinks to a particular site and can most times suggest fraudulent activities.

This can be indicative of a site being paid to generate backlinks to another site.

The site can be penalized as a result. The backlinks generated will be weak and this can have a negative effect on the receiving website.


Are there tools to check build backlinks?

There are free backlink maker and backlink checker tools that can be used to build and analyze the backlink of a site.




Having adequate knowledge of the subject matter of backlinks and referring domain is very important to run a website properly.

These two tools are SEO tactics that are employed to increase online traffic to a website.

Though backlinks and referring domain function in a mutually inclusive manner, that is, they both function in relation to the other, they are not the same.

A simple way of understanding their relationship with each other is this; backlinks are from referring domain, this means referring domain is the site that produced a backlink to a website.

An increase in web traffic will lead to an increase in the financial value of your website.


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Harrison Acha is a Digital Marketing Expert, Seasoned Blogger, Facebook Marketing Expert, Writer, SEO Expert, and Digital Content Creator. Have been in the IT industry for more than a decade, and helping both tech and non-tech professionals become more productive and less frustrated with technology. Follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

PrimeGate Digital is a Result Driven Blog that strives to go beyond ‘Conventional Digital Marketing’ through digital innovation and performance marketing. We have experience working with world class brands and products.


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