Everybody knows that backlinks are one of the most important aspects of SEO.

In order to become one of the top-ranking search results in Google, you need to focus on your link-building and get as many valuable backlinks as possible.

However, not all backlinks are created equal – when it comes to the “quality” of the backlink, it all boils down to the value of an external website that is actually linking to you.

In this post, we will therefore take a look at referring domains and explain:

  • What referring domains exactly are
  • What is the difference between referring domain and backlink
  • How to get more referring domains (and backlinks) for your website

What is the referring domain?

A referring domain (or linking domain) is an external website that is “referring” to your site with backlinks.

From the SEO perspective, referring domains can improve the overall rankings of your website, increase organic traffic, as well as give more exposure to your site’s brand.

Referring domains vs. backlinks

Although the terms “backlinks” and “referring domains” are sometimes used interchangeably, it is important to understand the difference between them (for SEO purposes):

  • Backlink – a single hyperlink from an external website that leads to your site.
  • Referring domain – an external website that “refers” to your site with its backlinks.

Generally speaking, the total number of backlinks and referring domains in the website’s backlink profile is never equal since any external website can refer to the target site with more than just 1 backlink.

For example: If website A provides 2 backlinks to website B, then website B obtained 2 backlinks and 1 referring domain.

If website A and website B provide 2 backlinks each to website C, then website C obtained 4 backlinks and 2 referring domains.

Why are referring domains important in SEO?

Linking domains determine the quality of your backlink profile (rather than backlinks alone). 

The reason is pretty straightforward – the overall number of backlinks may include links that might not be very valuable for search engines and users (e.g. backlinks from spammy websites or low-quality pages, site-wide links, etc.).

Because of that, looking just at the number of backlinks may blur the actual value of your backlink profile and its quality.

Search engines like Google determine the value of the backlink based on various attributes, such as:

One of the important factors that also influence the quality of…