Backlinks vs Referring Domains: What’s the Difference?

  ●   July 3, 2023 | PR
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July 3, 2023 | PR

One of the main results gained through Digital PR tactics is an increase in authoritative backlinks and referring domains pointing towards your website, but, what does this actually mean? 

What we’re going to cover in this article: 

Simply put, a backlink is a hyperlink that is pointing from one website to another. In fact, you can have multiple different backlinks from one website or webpage. If your website has a large number of, and a wide variety of backlinks, it’s likely that it’s going to have a strong link profile. 

For example, if a journalist at Metro covers your brand in an article, and if that article includes links back to your website, these are backlinks, pointing directly from Metro to your website. 

It’s important to remember however, that although backlinks will help to build your link profile, not all backlinks are equal, as some backlinks may actually have a negative effect on your website and its SEO. 

What is a referring domain? 

Referring domains are the individual websites that have one or more backlinks pointing to your website. 

For example, if a journalist at Metro covers your brand across multiple articles, including links back to your website in each article, you will have one referring domain. However, if a journalist at Metro and BBC News cover your brand and include links back to your website, then there will be two referring domains. 

The quality of referring domains impacts how Google views its referring links, therefore, it’s so important to ensure that you’re securing backlinks from authoritative websites and therefore authoritative referring domains. 

How do backlinks and referring domains differ?

Although backlinks and referring domains both refer to the links pointing towards your website’s domain, they both mean different things. 

Referring domains focus purely on the amount of websites, or domains, that have links pointing to your website. In comparison, backlinks refer to the total amount of links pointing to your website. 

For example, your website may have a total of 25 backlinks from the Metro, but the Metro will only count as one referring domain. 

How do these affect your website’s SEO?

In order to improve your website’s SEO, you need to ensure that you’re increasing both the amount of backlinks and referring domains pointing towards your website. 

In fact, research from Ahrefs shows that there is a positive correlation between the number of unique referring domains and the amount of search traffic that your website will receive.

Referring domains and backlinks are what search engines look at to understand the credibility of a site, therefore, a greater volume t of high-quality referring domains will help with an improved SERP performance.  

There are many tools that you can use to look at backlinks and referring domains pointing to your website. Tools include the likes of Google Search Console, Ahrefs, Majestic, SEMRush, and many more. 

Ahrefs is Semetrical’s preferred SEO tool,  allowing you to check on the specific and total number of backlinks and referring domains that any sites have. Simply, log into your Ahrefs account and click ‘Site Explorer’, once you’re here you can type in the URL of the website you want to analyse. 

Next, you’ll be able to choose ‘Backlinks’ or ‘Referring Domains’ on the side menu, and then you’ll be able to take a look at each and every backlink and referring domain pointing to the website. 

  • Create linkable content

You can ensure that your brand is creating linkable content and hosting it on your website. Once you’ve created this page, you will be able to outreach it to domains which your competitors have secured backlinks and referring domains from. 

High-quality content, such as infographics, data stories, and even thought-leadership articles, are the backbone to a link-building strategy. Sharing this content to publications that you want to gain links from is a great way to improve your link profile. 

  • Competitor targeting 

If you’re wanting to boost the amount of referring domains pointing to your site, but you want to ensure that you’re online getting links from relevant publications and domains, we’d suggest that you begin to target domains that have linked out to your competitors. 

See whether you have content that could replace your competitors content, or even if there is something that you’re able to add to your competitors content. If this isn’t the case, it’s worth approaching the domain independently and seeing what content they’ll be open to accepting from your brand. 

  • Broken link building 

Broken link building is another tactic which you can incorporate into your link-building strategy to help to increase the referring domains pointing to your site. This tactic involves identifying broken links on competitors’ websites, and offering your own relevant content to referring domains to replace that content that has been moved, or deleted. 

How can we help your brand?

So, do you want to increase the amount of referring domains and backlinks pointing to your website? Check out our digital PR services to find out how we can help you. 

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