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SEO Article Marketing: What Can Tom Hanks Teach You About Link Building?
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What does this have to do with link building? Find out...

You’ve probably heard website owners strategizing about “building links” to their sites.

Why are links so important on the internet?

In this post you’ll  learn what links are and why they are so important when trying to get targeted visitors to come to your website.

I’m going to purposefully explain this in a very non-technical way so that beginners can understand.

We’ve already covered that before you start doing anything, you need to create a website that contains unique information that is valuable to your target readers. Before you start trying to get people to come to your website, you need to put something there that is worthy of making someone want to look around.

Alright, so let’s assume that you’ve done that. When you first build your website, it’s like an island that is sitting by its lonesome in the middle of the ocean.

It’s not connected to anything–it’s just isolated. For any new website owners, I’m sure you’ve had the feeling that your website is floating around in the middle of nowhere, and you sort of feel like Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away.

When you put information on your website, you feel like you’re talking to yourself, because no one else is looking.


It starts to drive you crazy after a while.

Remember how Tom Hanks developed a friendship with a volleyball?

Let’s not let it get to that point… ;)

You MUST Build Links To Survive

Sorry to sound so dramatic, but it’s true.

I suppose that Tom Hanks could have continued to live on that island, but what kind of life is that?

He certainly didn’t like the thought of it.

He thought, “I must get in contact with others. I can’t continue to live out here on my own.”

And that’s the same thing that you think in regards to your website–“I need to get in touch with civilization. I can’t live out here all by myself. No one even knows I’m here.”

Links Are Like Rafts

The raft that Tom Hanks built is like the links that you build.

Then, Tom Hanks went and built a raft with the hope of getting connected with other living souls.

That raft was essential for his survival.

If he couldn’t get it to float and sustain the waves of the ocean, he would either be stranded on his isolated island forever or drowned at sea.

That raft that Tom Hanks built is like the links that you build. How so?

1 - It was a form of transportation.

The raft was meant to get him from point A to point B.

In a similar way, a link is meant to get people from one location on the internet to another.

For example, if you click the first link towards the top of this post, you will be “transported” to a Wikipedia page about the movie “Cast Away”.

By building links to your website, you create vehicles to transport viewers to your website. Without that transportation, you will remain isolated.

2 – The raft also put him in a position where others would notice him.

Tom got on the raft and floated around for who knows how long.

For a long time there seemed to be no one else around, but then one day his raft floated up beside a huge cargo ship and sailors on board notice him and pull him out of the water.

It was the raft that got him close enough to be noticed.

Floating Around…

Tom's raft put him in a position of being noticed (and rescued) by the huge cargo ship, much like the links you build put your website in a position of being noticed by Google.

In a similar way, the links you create with article marketing bring your website to the attention of search engines.

Search engines like Google will look at your links to help determine the authority of your website as well as the topic, and then they use that information to determine where your website is ranked when people search for certain things.

Then, consequently, through their rankings search engines bring your website to the attention of other people on the internet, namely the types of people who have an interest in your topic.

Google is like the cargo ship that rescued Tom.

From Tom’s point of view, the ship served the purpose of connecting him with his family and friends. Google is the ship; your potential customers are like Tom’s family and friends.

Floating around on the raft waiting for the huge cargo ship to take notice is actually a good illustration:

You build the links (like Tom built the raft), and the payoff is not immediate. You too will “float around” until Google notices (calculates) the links you’ve built. It can take anywhere from 3-6 months for the links you’ve created to be “noticed” by Google.

Like Tom, you just need to hang in there.

Why Are Links So Important On The Internet?

Now this metaphor isn’t perfect in several respects (for example, Tom only built one raft, while we need to build many links), but does it help you understand the basics of what a link is and why it’s important?

Sometimes it helps to hear things explained using different illustrations. Here’s another non-techy explanation of links that might help:

What Are Links and How Do You Get Them?

NOTE: Please be aware this content may now be outdated. For the latest quality content on how to build massive publicity for your website, please go to The vWriter Blog - Helping Businesses Grow Traffic, Build Engagement, and "Be Everywhere"

21 Responses to “SEO Article Marketing: What Can Tom Hanks Teach You About Link Building?”

  1. What a perfectly succint explaination even I could understand! Thanks Steve.

  2. Mike Bond says:

    This is one of the best illustrations of linking I’ve seen. Many thanks, Steve.

    It brings me to another point. Is it better to concentrate on just one website, on just one link, or put out a whole load of links on different subjects in the hope that at least one of them will come up a winner? It seems to me that concentrating on just the one link may be better, because you can give this link all your efforts and focus.

    On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for spreading yourself more thinly over the water in the hope that something will hit.

    Your advice would be greatly appreciated,


  3. Steve Shaw says:

    @Mike Bond: Hi Mike,

    You had asked:

    “Is it better to concentrate on just one website, on just one link, or put out a whole load of links on different subjects in the hope that at least one of them will come up a winner?”

    Presumably you have a website to market, so when you are building links with article marketing, the links that you create will go back to that website. You will mainly link to the main page, but it’s also a good idea to do some deep linking to the internal pages of your site.

    Now, when you say “is it better to put out a whole load of links on different subjects in the hope that at least one of them will come up a winner?”–do you mean is it best to create a bunch of different websites on different subjects?

    It really depends on what your goal is–if your website is associated with your business, the the website will be on the same topic as your business. The articles you write for that website will also be on the same general topic as your website.

    If your website is not associated with a business, and you are hoping to create a website or websites that make money for you, my suggestion would be not to target so broad a theme, but look for the golden nuggets that exist within it .

    If you do keyword research carefully, you’ll find niches within your area where the competition isn’t so great but where there is good traffic potential, and focus on a small number of these until you start getting traffic and start seeing earnings of some kind, depending on how you intend to monetize the niche.

    As you start doing well on these and mastering the process, you can then add further niches to the mix and just scale it up basically.

  4. Great analogy! And Castaway is one of my all-time fovorite movies too. Linkbuilding is probably the most important aspect of getting your website noticed but so many people simply stop and rest on their laurels after setting up their site…..
    Thanks for the entertaining reminder Steve.

    Robert Franks

  5. Carl says:

    Great association Steve!

  6. Noah says:

    Incredibly creative post here. I loved castaway and I am a link building geek. In fact I still play with legos and lincoln logs to connect things just for fun!

  7. Stan Schultz says:

    You’re right Steve, the article turned out good. Point well made.

  8. Ian says:

    This is a very good way of putting things because people respond very well if you tell them a story. That is a great way to get your readers involved in the article and get them down so that they click the link in your resource box. The story engages, you are giving them useful information, they get to the resource box, they click and then they buy

  9. I love your non-techy explanation of links. You rock!

  10. Faust says:

    and thats the secret to being seen online.. cheers!

  11. Nice metaphor.

    It explains the need for linking in a way that most people can understand.

    It’s difficult for most people to create links on a consistent basis but like any habit, once you have it,. it’s hard to kick. So get making links. :-)

  12. You definitely have a great way for making your point. And I like Castaway too as it reminds me of a subject dear to me.

    But as far as links are concerned though you need a hell of a lot more than what Tom needed but without them you are stranded on your own proverbial island. Thanks. Keep them coming.

  13. Paul Bursey says:

    Great explanation Steve. I know I have and many other people know very little about links when they start. Thanks

  14. [...] Read more on SEO Article Marketing: What Can Tom Hanks Teach You About Link Building?… [...]

  15. Mark Demers says:

    I just have to say – it`s all about links and content. The text links you get by article marketing are normally excellent for raising your chosen keyword and site visibility in searches too.
    Great analogy -easy to understand.
    Hanks is tops.

  16. chris hughes says:

    This is a very unique way at looking at link building but it works!!
    The only thing that confuses me is whether its better to get loads of links in one go or to spread it out and just add one or two now and again.

  17. Steve Shaw says:

    @chris hughes: Hi Chris,

    Glad you got some use out of this post. You ask a great question–there is a happy medium when link building that you need to be mindful of.

    You need to submit enough articles to make an impact, but not so many that it sends up red flags with Google.

    You would likely not see the results you were after just to add one or two links every now and then.

    When using an article submission service like that gives widespread distribution to your articles, we recommend submitting 8 articles a month, spacing your submissions throughout the month, and also using our ArticleTrickle feature, which submits each article to just a few publishers a day, creating a more organic link building profile.

    I recommend the 30 day trickle, but you can do as long as 90 days if you like.

    In that way, you are spreading out your link building, while still creating enough links to make a difference.

  18. Sure you made a huge drama out of SEO…ha ha…You owe a beer to Tom Hanks btw!

  19. I will right away grab your rss feed as I can not in finding your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me understand so that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  20. Steve Shaw says:

    @Deandrea Kellerhouse: Hi Deandrea,

    At the bottom of each post is an offer of a free report–sign up to get the free report and that will get you on our newsletter list too.

    Just let me know if you need anything else…

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