New to the world of referring domains? Let’s take a look at what they are and how you can use them. 

Know as much about referring domains as you do about the amount of water on Mars? Well, for any business with an online presence, getting traffic to your website, upping engagement, and building brand awareness is what you need to be doing.

Getting your website to the top of search results is crucial for success, and like many important things, that means it can be challenging. But it’s all good, there are tools out there to make life easier. That’s where referring domains come in.

In this article, we’ll dive into why they’re crucial for SEO, how backlinks come into play, and why referring domains and backlinks matter for your website’s visibility and impact. We’ll break down each term and give you practical tips for using them to boost your website and business.

So, What is a Referring Domain?

So, what are referring domains? (Echo, echo) Good question. 

Referring domains, aka linking domains, are external websites that direct visitors to you. They do this by using hyperlinks or backlinks that send traffic from their website to yours. 

A referring domain can send visitors to your main landing page, FAQs, product pages, or even a branded blog. It all comes down to the content the backlinks are in and how the referring domain’s products connect with your business.

What’s an example of a referring domain?

Say, for example, that you write a blog about how to set up a small business. If Jenni is online looking for tips, she might come across a piece in Small Biz Online Mag, which features a link to your blog. 

Small Biz Online Mag would be the referring domain here, as it has the backlink that directs Jenni to you. So far, so good.

Why Referring Domains Are Important: Trust Us, You Need Them

Referring domains are a big deal for anyone looking at creating a brand and making it a success. Not only do these little guys send traffic to your website and raise the profile of your business, but there are heaps of other benefits too.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of why referring domains matter. 

  1. Having a good number and variety of referring domains will make Google sit up and listen. It will think your website’s content grabs a broad audience, is helpful, and basically a top cat in your industry.
  2. Referring domains can boost the number of people finding your website through search (especially if those domains are trustworthy and have good content).
  1. A mix of referring domains can expand your website’s reach.
  1. Referring domains can boost your website’s SEO performance and improve its ranking in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages, to save you a search).
  2. Getting your website linked to domains with solid reputations and loyal followings can boost your brand’s image and credibility.

How Do Referring Domains Impact SEO? The Facts

So, we’ve listed the main ways that referring domains can benefit your website and business. Now, time to look at one of these points in more detail: how referring domains affect SEO.


Google checks out a website’s trustworthiness mostly by looking at its backlinks and referring domains. Referring domains carry more weight because having a variety is seen as a stronger quality signal than just having a bunch of backlinks. If all the backlinks are from a single place, even with loads, it doesn’t mean approval from different domains.

Backlink profile analysis

The profile of your backlinks tells you a lot about the quality of referring domains, which is massive for SEO. You want referring domains to be reputable and trusted, but for SEO, you really need backlinks to be high quality.

Checking out the referring domains on your website can show up any problems with your backlink profile.

Your backlink profile shows the strength of your backlinks. So, really you want as many organic, good authority links as possible. This will improve your website’s odds of ranking high for the keywords you want to target.

Links that are spammy or totally irrelevant to your website’s content or business area will create a poor backlink profile, which you want to avoid. 

Backlinks vs Referring Domains: What’s the Difference?

We’ve covered why referring domains and backlinks matter. So, let’s scroll back a little and make sure we’re crystal clear on referring domains vs backlinks in terms of the differences between the two.

Both backlinks and referring domains drive traffic to your website. But, let’s put the spotlight on what they are, how they work, and how they impact your SEO and website. 

What are they? 

  • A backlink is basically a hyperlink (sounds like something out of Star Wars every time we say it) to or from an external website.
  • A referring domain is an external website that has backlinks.

What do they do?

  • A backlink takes visitors to your website and its products.
  • A referring domain is an external website that’s a source and location of backlinks that take visitors to your website.

Why do they matter? 

  • A backlink is a big deal because it brings traffic to your website, but it needs to come from a quality referring domain with relevant content. None of that spammy anchor text, thank you very much.
  • A good number and variety of referring domains with good backlinks can bring traffic to your website and boost SEO.

What is a backlink?

So, to recap, a backlink is a link that connects one website to another. When a person reads a blog or whatever on a referring domain, backlinks show up in a different colour than the rest of the text. Like a huge arrow saying ‘Click here’. 

When the viewer clicks on the anchor text of the backlink, they end up at an external website. 

Backlinks can lead to video content, images, and infographics, as well as text. All clear?

How to Check Referring Domains: Let’s Show You

It’s important to check referring domains for your website now and again. There’s a referring domains report in the Google Search Console which shows how many you have and helps you find the referring domains that are making your SEO work.

To see this, you’ll need to create an account and link it to your website. Then, on the overview page, you’ll see the metrics with the information you need.

  • Check the total number of external links (in other words, the number of backlinks from external sites to your website).
  • Check top linked pages, i.e. the pages on your website that are most often linked to from external websites.
  • Check top linked sites (the top referring domains that link to your website).
  • Check top linking text, i.e. the anchor text that external websites use in backlinks to your website.

You can use this information to check out the quality and number of referring domains and how many backlinks each referring domain has.

How to check backlinks

Google Search Console has a backlink report, too. If you go to the “Links” section and then go to “External links”, this will show you all the ones from external sites to your website. 

  • Check the total number of backlinks.
  • Check the type and number of domains the backlinks come from.
  • Check how many links come from top linking domains.
  • Check the anchor text quality and reach.

You can use this information to pinpoint spammy or low-quality anchor text and links. Not only that, but you can see if your links are coming from a limited number of referring domains or domains that aren’t a good fit.

Six Ways to Get More Referring Domains to Your Website

So, that’s what referring domains are, why they matter, and how they differ from backlinks. Next, let’s drill down into the heaps of ways to get more referring domains for your website.

1. Know the content that wins

Check what content on your website is doing well and getting shared. If people are liking and linking to certain topics, create more of that stuff. Keep an eye on comments and feedback, and brainstorm with your team for new content ideas that rock your audience’s world.

2. Quality content

Create awesome content in different styles on your site—guides for customers, industry news, personal stories, the time your cat fell off the windowsill, etc. Make it well-written and in the know, but also easy and appealing for your audience.

Regularly update your content because referring domains prefer linking to fresher stuff. Don’t forget to stay in the loop with trends and new ideas, and share them with your target customers.

3. Add images and media

Remember, content doesn’t have to be just text. Cool infographics, videos, images, and even podcasts can grab the interest of your site visitors. Referring domains are more inclined to share exciting content that goes beyond a boring plain wall of text. No one likes to feel like they’re watching a conveyor belt.

4. Check for broken and spammy links

Links are useless if they’re spammy or broken, and they might even hold back your progress. So, keep an eye on your backlinks to make sure they’re up to snuff. If you find broken links, contact the referring domains and get them to replace them with links to other content on your website.

5. Guest posts

Guest posts can be a win-win, so take the time to write shining content for the websites that matter to you. Doing guest posts and getting backlinks in return is a great way to get more referring domains.

6. Check your competitors

Finally, keep your friends close, but your ‘enemies’ closer, right? See what your competitors are posting online. Check their backlinks and referring domains. If you find referring domains that are really good quality, it might be worth reaching out to those sites and getting them on board.

So, How Many Referring Domains Is Good?

No need for a set number of referring domains, but it’s smart to check what your competitors are up to. You’d ideally want at least as many as them if not more.

A quick heads-up: quality beats quantity every time. Make sure you have good referring domains with content that connects well with your target customers and business niche.

Another tip is to check that you don’t have more outbound than inbound links. If you do, take another look at the quality of your content and website design. The better these are, the more likely it is that top sites will link to you.

How Do I Create a Referring Domain?

Of course you can create your own referring domain. You can create your own referring domain by registering a new one, making sure it’s not a taken domain. Then, use it to link back to your website through hyperlinks or URL references on other sites, creating a connection or referral.

OnlyDomains Makes Getting Your Ideas Online Easy

Referring domains will have your website soaring in search results and attracting top-notch visitors. Knowing how they work means you take control of your online presence and maximize its potential.

OnlyDomains can help you from the first step of choosing a domain name through managing your website and domain, and getting your ideas online. We’re the domain experts.

So, what are you waiting for? Contact OnlyDomains today to find out how we can help you.

FAQs About Referring Domains

Is a referring domain the same as a linking domain?

You bet. They both mean the same thing. In a nutshell, referring domain and linking domain refer to an external website that has links (or backlinks) leading to your website, driving that all-important traffic your way.

What is a referring domain ranking?

A referring domain ranking is like a grade for a website, showing how much it adds to other sites by sharing links. In SEO, it helps to figure out how trustworthy and influential a website is in supporting other websites’ link profiles through external links.

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