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What’s the Difference Between Referring Domains and Backlinks?
What’s the Difference Between Referring Domains and Backlinks?

Backlinks and referring domains are similar, but not exactly the same.

Anna avatar
Written by Anna
Updated over a week ago

Backlinks are hyperlinks that point from one website to another. You can have multiple backlinks from a website or web page.

What is a referring domain?

Referring domains are domains from which the target website or web page has one or more backlinks. 

For example, if a web page has a backlink from the New York Times, then it has one referring domain. If it has a link from the New York Times and Forbes, that it has two referring domains. If it has two backlinks from the New York Times, then it still has one referring domain.

To check referring domains, paste any website, web page or subfolder into Ahrefs Site Explorer and open the Referring domains report:

To check backlinks, navigate to the Backlinks report.

How do they impact your SEO? Referring domains and traffic

If you want more organic traffic, backlinks and referring domains are crucial.

In fact, our recent in-depth research showed an interesting correlation: the vast majority of pages (of analyzed ~ 1 billion pages) without any referring domains get no traffic from Google. 

01 90 percent pages get no organic search traffic from google 1

There is also a positive correlation between the number of unique referring domains and the amount of search traffic the target web page receives. 

03 referring domains vs search traffic 1

While correlation doesn’t equal causation, the results of the study suggest that the more backlinks from unique websites (referring domains) you have, the more traffic you’re likely to get.

Learn more 

Looking to build more links to your site? These resources from our blog should help: 

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