A domain from which you build a backlink or traffic link to your domain in order to either drive users from that website to your website or the bots from that website to your website is a referring domain.

Referring domain is mainly meant to fulfill two objectives,

  • One is a backlink
    A backlink built can always drive a referral traffic
  • Another is referral traffic
    A link built for referral traffic may not necessarily be a backlink. (e.g: an affiliate link)

Any domain that gives either a backlink (Bots crawl your website through it) or sends referral traffic (real users visit from that website to the destination site) to your/destination site is a referral domain.

Backlink Vs Referral Domain

Ever questioned yourself about the differences between backlinks and referring domains?

Many SEO professionals and business owners misunderstand the backlinks for referral traffic and vice-versa, but there is a huge difference between backlinks and referring domains. SEO professionals misunderstand their backlink activities to the referring domains, whereas referring domains are meant for the traffic & Crawl frequency, whereas backlinks are mainly meant for a backlink, but then they can drive referral traffic as well.

All backlinks come from referring domains, but not all referring domains can give a backlink to the website.

Backlinks are mainly done to reap a SEO benefit


Backlinks are done to improve the crawl frequency of the website and they can be tracked or found on Google webmaster tools/Google search console, as shown below,

Referral Domains in Search Console

Referring domains are mainly to drive referral traffic and can be found on the Analytics referral section,

Referral Domains in Google Analytics

The referring domains can be found on search console if they are the backlinks also,

The same way the backlinks can drive referral traffic and can be found of analytics as well.

Hope this article clears you with the difference between the referring domains and backlinks!


Manjunath Chowdary

Digital Marketing Expert, consultant, Mentor and
Director of KandraDigital Marketing
Solutions Pvt Ltd.

-Kandra Digital

An agency that’s been built with the core purpose of delivering the quality digital marketing in the era where Digital marketing services are just business rather than the value for the business, business owners and their resources/time.

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