Rank and Rent

A guide to online lead generation with rank and rent SEO

Rank and Rent is a business model where you build a website, use search engine optimization to generate leads, then sell them to a local business.

While the concept is simple, the model takes time to perfect because it’s nuanced.

In real estate, you buy a house, find tenants, and charge them a monthly fee.  Rank and Rent SEO is similar but completely online. 

Think of it as digital real estate rental. 

It’s an online lead generation business that has all the pros of physical real estate and none of the cons.

In this guide, we’ll cover what it is, how it works, and why rank and rent coaching is a smart idea.

Table of Contents

How does Rank and Rent make money?

People search on Google 3.5 billion times per day, mostly looking for products and services.

If you can increase the visibility of your website so that a portion of those people see it, the growth of your business is inevitable.

Think about the last company you contacted for help with something. Unless it was a referral, you probably found them on Google.

For example, let’s say your toilet breaks. If you’re not a plumber, you hop on Google and search something like “plumber near me”.

Google identifies where you’re currently located and returns a list of all the nearby plumbers.

You choose the plumbing company you like, visit their website, and schedule an appointment. 

The plumber arrives at your location, fixes your toilet, and charges you a fee.

The plumber earned your business because you found them organically online, probably somewhere near the top of the search results.

But why is that? 

Studies have shown that people are more likely to visit higher ranked websites.

In fact, the top ranked website for any given keyword receives 31% of the traffic.

Beyond the obvious benefit of being the first website people see, there’s also a much less apparent advantage at play.

A psychological benefit called the Halo Effect.

It’s a subconscious, cognitive bias that distorts our perception of the top ranked company in a positive manner.

Most people are aware of how many similar businesses exist in any given market.

When they see a company sitting comfortably in the #1 spot, they think, “That company must be the best…”

Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t.

But either way, everyone wants to work with the best.

How is the Rank and Rent model different?

The main difference with the rank & rent model is that you own the website.

As the digital landlord, you can update, improve, and change the site as you see fit. Unlike an SEO agency, you have complete control of the asset. No more asking clients for permission to do what needs to be done.

A second benefit is income safety. Ownership of this digital asset helps to ensures that you keep getting paid as long as it continues producing qualified leads.

Another bonus is the elimination of virtually all client communication and non-value added activities. Say goodbye to ranking reports, back and forth emails, obligatory updates, and unexpected phone calls at inopportune times.

You can also rent the website to a business of your choosing and negotiate the terms of the agreement.

For example, let’s say your lead gen site is ranked in the number one position for “roofing Dallas”.

Since you’ve got the first spot in the local search results, you’ve got leads coming in constantly.

There are hundreds of local roofers who would pay to lease your website.

If you intend to create a passive income with Rank and Rent, your goal should be to create multiple lead generation websites and rent each of them out for a flat fee.

But in order to build an income that’s truly residual, you need to choose the right clients. Pick the wrong ones and your income will never be stable.

Who rents leads generation websites?

Local business owners everywhere rent lead generation websites because they need leads to grow. Leads are the life blood of business; without them, everything would grind to a halt.

Renting a ranked website provides several advantages, such as cost savings, flexibility, and ease of scaling. 

Buying a website is expensive, and so is paying an SEO company to increase its visibility.

In addition, building and ranking a lead gen site correctly requires significant time and specialized knowledge that most business owners don’t have.

On the other hand, leasing a rank and rent website allows local providers to grow their businesses on demand. 

In exchange for a recurring rental fee, the business owner receives a consistent flow of qualified leads. 

Better yet, the website rental fee is negotiable.

If at any point the business decides to use a different digital marketing strategy, they can just stop paying, and you can rent the site out to someone else.

Another advantage of renting ranked websites is the ease of expansion.

To open in a new city, the provider simply needs to pay the website rental fee you have set for the new area to start receiving leads.

There are four types of businesses that rent lead generation sites:

  1. new businesses
  2. referral-based businesses
  3. businesses that pay for leads
  4. businesses that advertise

New businesses

Millions of new businesses are formed each year, and all of them need leads.

But building a website from scratch and ranking it in the search engines takes time and skill.

Most local businesses can’t wait weeks or months for their online marketing efforts to gain momentum. They have bills to pay, and they need money now.

Furthermore, many local business owners don’t have the patience, time, or knowledge to manage their own SEO.

Renting websites allows a newly opened business to start acquiring customers and building cash flow immediately.

Referral-based businesses

Many businesses rely entirely on referrals and word of mouth to grow. The recommendation of one excited customer spreads from person to person, leading to increased sales over time.

Research from Nielsen and Edelman showed that 83% of Americans trust recommendations from friends and family. Since friends and family typically have no financial interest in the products or services they recommend, the referrals are more trustworthy.

With no internet marketing, the growth of referral-based businesses can be slow and geographically limited.

By renting a lead gen website, local business owners can expand rapidly into new locations.

Businesses that pay for leads

National companies like Angi, Home Advisor, and Thumbtack sell tens of millions of leads to local businesses each year.

Leads are generated for thousands of niches, ranging from home improvement to legal services.

Some businesses buy leads because they don’t know how to generate them on their own, while others purchase leads to grow faster.

Local business owners that pay for leads understand the value of lead generation, which makes them great website rental candidates because they don’t need to be convinced or “sold”.

Instead of paying for shared leads, they can invest in renting a website and gain exclusive leads.

This is a huge advantage for the business because they can charge more money, cherry pick the projects they want, and close a higher percentage of customers.

Businesses that advertise

Businesses that advertise rent websites too.

In addition to paying for cost per click (CPC) advertising on Google and Facebook, some local business owners pay a flat rental fee to access all of the leads from rank & rent websites. 

Generally, online customers that come from the organic search results close at a higher rate than those generated from advertising.

Pros of the Rank and Rent Business Model

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You own the digital assets that you create, giving you complete control of them.

This allows you to charge recurring rental fees based on the volume and value of the leads your websites produce.  As long as you keep bringing in leads, you’ll keep getting paid.

And if for someone reason a business no longer wants to work with you, there is always another one to replace it.

You invest time and resources upfront to build a revenue-generating asset. Upon completion, you just have to monitor it.

Once a week, you’ll spend 2-3 minutes reviewing a call tracking report to make sure call volumes are stable. When they are (99.9% of the time), there is nothing else for you to do.

At a job, you’re only paid for the hours you work. You’re simply trading time for money.

While you may receive some form of commission or bonus pay, your income is limited because there are only so many hours in a day. 

With a well-built rank and rent business, you can get paid repeatedly for work you put in once.

The structure of the business model allows you to grow wealth without being restricted by your personal limitations. 

Leverage is what separates the wealthy from everyone else. And the biggest limitation is time.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, so why is it that some people are able to get so much more done and earn so much more money?   

We put people and processes in place to increase our work output far beyond what we could ever do ourselves.

With a proven framework, every part of the rank and rent process can be automated or outsourced, allowing you to scale the business without doing the work yourself.

 You can build and rank lead generation websites for ~$1,000 one time.

If you’re doing the work yourself initially (which you should to learn faster), your profit margin should be around 80% in year one.

In year two, many of the upfront expenses drop off, and you can expect profit margins of 90%+.

Every part of the model can be outsourced by training, monitoring, and managing 3rd party providers. This allows you to scale very fast.

Despite pandemics and recessions, businesses that provide essential services are always needed.

When an economic downturn hits, discretionary spending slows. But businesses that are considered “essential” remain mostly unaffected.

Take the home services niche for example.

If your toilet breaks, I bet you’ll call a plumber before you consider using your backyard as a bathroom.

The best way to recession-proof your income is by hedging your risk with specific niches.

Businesses are being created at an unprecedented rate. 

This presents an enormous opportunity for anyone with this unique skill set because of the increased demand for new customers.

Saturation is only a concern when you don’t know how to choose niches correctly.

*Pro tip*  Roofing isn’t the right niche.

You can build this business from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection.

I have students in 9 countries.

Digital real estate allows you the flexibility to build a business on your own schedule.

Work during your lunch hour, after work, on a weekend, or whenever you can make time.

5-10 hours of focused effort per week is enough to see results in just a few months.

You can generate leads for any business, anywhere in the world, in any niche at will.

You get paid to help people.

  1. The customer connects with a great business
  2. The business owner makes money
  3. You get paid

When you give someone the gift of consistent, qualified leads, it can change their lives. It feels good.

The added revenue can help business owners improve and expand operations, remove themselves from the day-to-day work, and better provide for themselves and their families.

Cons of Rank & Rent

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This is a pro and a con.

Success requires sales skills, advanced knowledge of *local* search engine optimization techniques, an in-depth understanding of niche selection, a repeatable process, and significant sweat-equity.

Luckily, everything except sweat-equity can be taught.

These barriers to entry keeps competition low in comparison to other online business opportunities.

While it’s possible to get lucky and generate a few leads, most people never make money without coaching.

This isn’t a model to get rich quick.

Websites can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to start generating leads.

And roadblocks are inevitable. Your success depends on how well you follow each step of the process and how quickly (and effectively) you are able to pivot when you hit them.

Every website isn’t going to be a winner.

There are ways to mitigate that, but it’s important to take everything as a learning experience.

Even if a website is getting a lot of customers, sometimes clients leave.

But it’s not a huge deal because you own the asset.

It’s your website, so you can just make a deal with a different business.

Steps to Build a Rank and Rent Website

Rank and Rent SEO requires patience, consistent effort, and a lot of know-how.

Below are the steps to create a rank and rent website.

Step 1: Choose a Niche & Target City

The first step in the process is choosing a niche for your rank and rent website.

Your goal is to identify a niche that’s profitable, but also has low competition.

The larger the area, the more difficult it usually is to rank, so local SEO is the best option.

When researching a niche, consider the following questions:

Is the niche phone-driven?

The best local business niches for rank and rent are phone-driven. 

Think contractors. 

You want to generate leads for a business in which the customer calls to request services.

When your roof leaks, you call a roofer. When your driveway cracks, you call a paving company. If a tree limb hangs over your house, you call a tree service. 

Persuading a customer to call a business is much easier than convincing them to leave the comfort of their home and travel to a physical location.

What is the competition level?

The ideal local business niche is one with low competition.

However, competition usually increases with the value of the service being provided.

A personal injury lawyer for example can potentially earn millions of dollars from a single client, which makes personal injury leads extremely valuable.  Some firms will pay advertising fees of more than $100 for a single person to click on their ads.

screenshot CPC prices for personal injury lawyers

While it’s a lucrative niche, you’ll spend months and thousands of dollars trying to rank high enough to generate leads. 

Home services and contract work are often a better choice. Because of the lower competition, you can often get results much faster.

How big is the city?

If you choose a city that’s too big, you’ll spend thousands of dollars ranking the website and have to wait months for results.  If the city is too small, you may not get enough leads to make the website valuable.

You have to ensure that there is enough search volume in a given city to support your lead generation property.

Is the niche seasonal?

Some niches are inactive during different parts of the year due to the weather. 

Landscapers for instance are only active between March and November. December through February are “dead months”, so you won’t be able to generate any leads during that period.

Does the niche exist in that location?

There are no snow plowing businesses in Hawaii.

While that’s an extreme example, it’s important to check whether the service actually exists in the market you’re researching.

How many businesses are there?

Check how many businesses offer the service. Too many and you’ll face steep competition. Too few and there won’t be anyone to rent the website to down the road.

There’s nothing worse than having a website that produces tons of leads that no one wants.

How long is the sales cycle?

The sales cycle is how fast a business can turn a lead into a paying customer. Short sales cycles are better because the business can monetize the leads more quickly.

Long sales cycles decrease the perceived value the business owner receives when renting your website, which makes it more challenging to negotiate a high rental fee.

Does the niche require a license?

Certain niches require licensing to advertise through the use of a website. These laws change by niche, city, state, and country.

Pest control is a great example.

In New York, if you have a pest control website that advertises extermination involving pesticides, you are required by law to display your license and registration numbers on the website.

The Department of Environmental Conservation regularly checks Google for local businesses, contacts them for proof of licensing, and delivers substantial financial penalties for failure to comply with the law.

Step 2: Pick a domain name

The next step is to select a domain name for your website. 

These days, many domain registrars are relatively inexpensive. If you go with a provider like Name, Name Silo, or Name Cheap, you can expect to spend around $10/year.  Others like Go Daddy are more expensive.

Exact match domains still have an advantage, so make sure to include a local keyword in the URL.

If you were trying to rank a website for a tree service in San Diego for example, below are some potential domain names you could choose:

  • sandiegotreeservice.com
  • sandiegotreeservices.com
  • treeservicesandiego.com
  • treeservicesandiegoca.com
  • treeservicessandiego.com
  • treeservicessandiegoca.com

You can use different keywords, switch the order of the niche and city, and use any domain extension you want.

However, the more common domain extensions like .com and .net are preferred because they’re often better received.

Now it’s time to uncover the best keywords.

Step 3: Identify the best keywords

The keywords you target with your website determine the type of traffic you get. The easiest way to uncover valuable search terms is to use a keyword research tool, such as SEM Rush or Ahrefs.

Identify your top competitors, search their website URLs in a research tool, and make a list of all the keywords they rank for.

Pair down the list by removing any do-it-yourself (DIY) related search terms. Those users aren’t likely to become your customers.

Instead, focus on keywords that are local, low-moderate difficulty, have commercial or transactional intent, and have enough search volume to generate leads.

If you target the wrong keywords, you end up with no leads or an abundance of tire kickers. In either case, the lead gen website is worthless.

Step 4: Analyze competing content

Now it’s time to uncover what types of website content your competitors have.

Identify the top 10 competitors in the city you picked. Review their websites and take note of the following:

  • How many web pages do they have?
  • What products and services do they discuss?
  • How much content did they write on each page?
  • What keywords are they targeting?
  • What content topics are missing?

All of this information will be used to help you write better content for your website.

Step 5: Write your content

Most rank and rent websites have a home, about, and contact page, followed by several service pages. If the niche is competitive, the site will most likely have a blog as well.

Your goal is to write about and expand on every topic and service that your competitors cover in order to build topical authority in your target market. 

As an added bonus, this writing method increases the number of keywords your website indexes for, giving you the opportunity to rank for more keywords.

In addition to writing informational content, encourage readers to take action whether it’s calling a phone number or completing a quote form.

Using a combination of useful information and commercial keywords naturally attracts readers, some of which will become leads.

If you have trouble creating the right type of content, consider outsourcing it to a virtual assistant through a service like Upwork. However, make sure to avoid cheap providers so the quality of your content doesn’t suffer.

And for the record, AI content is not recommended unless you plan on doing some serious editing. 

Artifical intelligence tools like Chat GPT spit out generic content that will hurt your rankings. I’ve tested it. And so has Neil Patel.

This does not mean however that AI should be ignored completely, as there is still a place for it.

AI is best used to create the content outline, or as a supplemental aid in partnership with a human writer.

Quality content is quality content, regardless where it comes from.

Investing in well-written, detailed web content upfront shortens the ranking timeline and leads to higher conversions.

Step 6: Set up a Google Business Page (GBP)

To generate local leads using Google maps, you need to register a Google Business Page (GBP), formerly known as a Google My Business Listing (GMB).

A study by Merkle showed that 60% of all searches are done from a mobile device, and Google Business Pages are optimized to take advantage of this.

In combination with a top ranked position in the organic search results, a GBP listing serves to maximize your lead volume by increasing calls and website visits.

Creating a GBP listing requires a verifiable address and phone number.  Although this step presents several challenges, it’s critical to your success.

Google analyzes everything about your submission from the information in the listing to how you submitted it.

Users are presented with one or more of the following verification options: email, phone call, text, postcard, video recording, or live video. Rarely, a user may be given an option for instant verification.

The postcard verification option provides the user with a code that must be entered to verify the listing.

All other methods, with the exception of instantly verifying, go through a manual approval.

Then, after a short review period, Google may enable the Google Business Page to display publicly.

Step 7: Build Citations

Once the GBP is live, it’s time to start building citations.

A citation is anywhere online that lists your company name, address, and phone number (NAP).  These online references to your business are often directories or social profiles, many of which include a link to your website.

Examples of common citation sources include Yelp, Yellow Pages, White Pages, Angi, and the Better Business Bureau.  Each of these local directories allows you to create a local listing for your business.

Building citations creates local relevance around your geographic location and increases your credibility with Google. Website rankings increase as relevance and trust improve.

Focus on adding your business information to high quality directories that are closely related to the niche or location. 

Outsourcing this work is recommended because it’s a tedious, time-consuming process.

Step 8: Create Backlinks

Backlinks are simply links from one website to another.  The quality and quantity of your inbound links influences how well your website ranks in the search engines.

Like citations, creating backlinks is required to build trust in Google and improve your website visibility to the point that it generates leads consistently.

Start by analyzing the links of your top 10 competitors.  Identify the highest quality links from each competitor and build them for your own website. The time it takes to rank depends on a multitude of factors such as the niche, city population, level of competition, and more. However, following this process regularly will improve your website rankings over time.

Ensuring a healthy backlink profile from varied link sources and with the appropriate anchor text speeds up the timeline measurably and is the only way to achieve consistent results.

Consider using rank tracking software to monitor your progress. Once you’ve established a steady flow of qualified leads, you can begin reaching out to businesses to secure a rental deal.

Step 9: Rent out your website

Now that you have an influx of leads, it’s time to rent out your website to a local business.

Keep in mind that the majority of businesses can benefit from your help, including those that are newly formed, advertise, work solely off referrals, or pay for leads.

One of the easiest ways to find a company that needs more customers is to click a few pages back in the search results for a major keyword.

A study by Marketing Land found that 71% of searchers choose a business from page 1, while only 1.6% visit page 3 or beyond.

Apply those stats to your niche.

Let’s say for example that 1,000 people search for a tree service in the target city. 

That means that only 16 people make it to page 3+ of the search results. 

Those are the companies to contact because they need your help the most; they’re fighting over scraps.

Reach out to those business owners, have a conversation to gauge their interest, then pitch them on renting your website.

You can contact a business by phone, email, Facebook message, or any other means. What you say matters more than the mode of communication, so choose what you’re comfortable with.

To separate yourself from other marketers and help seal the deal, consider providing some leads for free.  

Delivering results in advance without asking for anything in return builds trust with the business owner. It also invokes the law of reciprocity; the business owners feel obligated to give you something in exchange for the leads.

If a business is interested in working with you, you’ll have the opportunity to negotiate the monthly rental rate. 

When deciding what to charge, your goal is to strike a balance between what you and the business owner believe is fair. 

Don’t forget to set the expectation that you’ll discuss progress and revisit the rental fee at a future date to avoid lowballing yourself.

Most business owners who earn significant money from rank and rent sites become long term clients.  But if a business does request to discontinue your service, simply contact a different local provider and replace them.

Website rental fees range from $500 to $5,000+ monthly depending on several factors like the niche, target city, and your sales ability to name a few.

Top Reasons People Fail with Rank & Rent SEO

There is no shortage of people that fail to build a sustainable business with rank & rent SEO.

The good news is that it can be attributed to two reasons: lack of direction and lack of effort.

Lack of direction

Everyone wants a six-figure income.  Everyone wants time freedom. 

But without a plan, those goals are just wishes. 

To navigate to a destination that you’ve never been to, you need a roadmap. 

People don’t become successful by accident.  Everyone who does well learned from someone. 

And like any legitimate business, rank and rent is nuanced. It requires a ton of work and a lot of know-how.

The people with the DIY mindset fail because they have no direction.

They watch YouTube videos, read a few blogs, and begin taking random action in the hope of building a sustainable business.

Inevitably, they hit a roadblock. 

They scour Google for answers, watch more videos, and read additional blogs in an attempt to find a solution. 

As you’d expect, the Internet delivers hundreds of responses.

This creates analysis paralysis and leaves them with no way of knowing which potential “solutions” may work without spending both money and time testing them all.

With each new roadblock, it becomes more likely that they will give up.

Eventually, they quit and blame the business model. 

When asked about it, they tell their friends and family that the model doesn’t work or that it’s a scam.

In reality, they failed because they were missing critical information and there was no one there to help them.

Wealthy people know that the fastest way to achieve success is to learn from someone who has already achieved it.

They understand that by investing in themselves, they can avoid all the pitfalls of the model, save money, save time, and maximize their chances of success.

Every time they get stuck, they have someone they can get help from. 

They also understand that every decision has an opportunity cost. 

Every second they allow to pass without learning this skill is an unrealized gain; it’s the money they could have made or the freedom they could have had already if they had taken action sooner.

The price of success is always paid in money or time.

Money is a replenishable resource, but time is not. So it makes the most sense to invest money to save time.

Lack of effort

With a step-by-step, tested and proven process to follow, the only thing that’s left is to put in the work.  

The most common excuse from people who fail is “I don’t have time.”

What they’re really saying is: “The things I’m currently doing are more important to me than success.” 

Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day, so it’s just a matter of priorities.

By choosing not to prioritize their business, they are actively choosing to fail.

The people that are successful with the rank & rent model prioritize building their business.

They’ll find the time to make it happen, whether it means getting up earlier, staying up later, or canceling their Netflix subscription for a few months. 

Successful people understand that there’s a price to be paid for success, and it’s not comfortable. But it (can be) temporary if you’re not just firing shots in the dark.

Success from Rank and Rent Coaching

Rank & Rent is one of the fastest, most effective ways to build a true passive income while working from home.

Stay-at-home moms have earned 6-figures. 

Students have graduated from college without needing to search for employment.  

Businesses have expanded their operations into other states. 

9-5 employees have quit their full-time jobs. 

If you had a tested and proven process to follow, would you make it happen?

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