Backlinks vs. Referring Domains: Differences and Best Practices
January 29, 2023at4:00 PM
Getting your website to rank at the top is the ultimate goal. And while SEO has been pivotal in helping websites become searchable and visible on the web, reaching the top also often requires a more collective effort between websites.
This is the general premise of backlinks and referring domains, which are integral in off-page SEO. They are two powerful tools to supplement your digital marketing efforts and help expand your website’s audience.
But are backlinks and referring domains the same? Your SEO services provider must’ve explained how these two work. If not, let’s shed some light on the backlinks vs referring domains debate.
What are Backlinks?
A backlink is a link between your website and an external website, social media page, or related platform. You can usually find these links in the text within an article (such as the one above), in the anchor text, images, buttons, and graphics. Backlinks link to a web page of another website. Do not confuse backlinks with internal links or links between pages of your website.
Creating backlinks helps website crawlers understand your webpage. They navigate the web through backlinks to determine the page's relevance. Website crawlers analyze the quality and quantity of backlinks through algorithms and how it answers the searcher’s queries. Moreover, backlinks are a usual indicator of a website’s popularity since popular websites often have more authority.
What are Referring Domains?
A referring domain is a website that links to you. For example, website A links to website B. The link between two websites is counted as one referring domain. You can only get referring domains for every website that links to you. Hence, if 50 websites link you, you get 50 referring domains.
The counting of referring domains is not related to the links between web pages. Referring domains are links to two different websites in their entirety.
Differences Between Backlinks and Referring Domains
Let’s discuss further the differences between these two and provide more examples for clarity.
For starters, backlinks and referring domains are both links. However, they don’t work the same way. You count backlinks per web page while you count referring domains per website. Let’s say website A is 1,000 backlinks to website B. But even if they have a thousand backlinks, the link between websites A and B is counted as one referring domain. Hence, even if you have a million backlinks to one website, that remains counted as one referring domain.
In SEO, the number of backlinks or referring domains doesn’t necessarily assure a higher ranking. Quality is the more important factor for both so they naturally take precedence in the overall consideration of things. Generally speaking, it is better to have a few backlinks from high-authority referring domains than multiple backlinks from obscure, low-rank websites.
It’s also good to have a balance between backlinks and referring domains. Your SEO strategy should not focus solely on backlinks. Instead, consider working with other high-authority websites to enhance your backlinking strategy.
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Proper SEO strategies can help you get ahead of competitors. Part of this strategy is to establish high-quality backlinks and connections with websites that relate to your brand.
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