What is Rank & Rent? This is a strategy used in digital marketing, where a person builds a website, nurtures it until it gains search engine visibility, and then rents out the website. Many search engine experts in local SEO are adopting this strategy since it’s very simple, manageable, and, most of all, profitable.
You don’t have to worry about anything in case you are not conversant with Rank & Rent. So long as you have some experience with ranking sites, as well as the common tools required for doing that, you have the basic foundation that you need to start this strategy. However, if you don’t have any experience with any of the things we’ve highlighted above, you are in the right place.
In this post, we shall highlight every bit of Rank & Rent. By the end of this post, you will learn how this strategy works, and the clients who are interested in the Rank & Rent strategy. Then, we shall delve deeper, and let you know how to select a niche, set up a website, beat the competition, create killer content, check whether you’ve met all the technical guidelines, and how you can find your first “tenant.”
But, we now need to have a deeper look at what Rank & Rent means, and how you can understand the motivations of anyone who is willing and eager to pay for this strategy.
What makes Rank & Rent different?
When it comes to the Rank & Rent strategy, “Rent” is the primary word with this strategy since you’ve decided not to let someone else control your website. With this strategy, you get to control your website, the content, as well as the links. You will negotiate with your “tenants” over how and where one of those changes, and you can terminate the lease whenever the “tenants” either no longer agree to the set terms or they achieve their results.
Then, you will have the freedom to rent the same site to another client. If you got everything right in the first place, you could rent the website at a higher cost since it gained value when you rented it to your first client.
For instance, let’s assume you get the website to rank in the first spot for “locksmiths in Florida.” Since you’ve got that spot now, there are many locksmiths who are willing to skip all the hard work and use that website.
You want to use Rank & Rent as a long-term strategy in Local SEO, and your main objective should be to create a portfolio of different websites that’s money-producing and constantly growing. However, before you even think of that, it’s essential to ensure that you know whom you will want to attract as your clients.
In any case, who will be willing to invest in a site that they cannot own?
Who are the ideal candidates for Rank & Rent websites?
In every niche, you will definitely find local business owners who have an interest in renting out a website, and the cost is the major factor for most of these business owners. Buying a site is a costly investment. You will be needed to pay out people to design attractive graphics, and create compelling content—and this will cost you a good fortune. In addition to that, trying to acquire quality backlinks is a tedious task, which will consume a lot of valuable time, in addition to the money you spend.
Renting a site gives you the freedom to combine all the costs of owning a site into a monthly fee, which you can stop paying whenever you are ready to move on to your next strategy. You will not even have to worry about finding a new buyer for the site—you can just walk away.
Apart from the lower cost, rented sites also come with unique benefits to some clients. Therefore, understanding who these clients are will assist you throughout the process of developing your first, as well as future sites.
So, who has an interest in renting a website?
When starting a new business, it can take a while before your new website gains some reasonable traffic in SERPs. Even if you are a local business, and you attract a lot of physical traffic, you cannot rank in Google immediately.
Moreover, most local business owners tend to be intimidated by SEO and online marketing—and that’s the reason why they consider the Rank & Rent strategy. For new businesses, be it surgeons to restaurants, renting a site is the best way to skip the growth period of the website and start ranking immediately for certain searches.
A business that depends on leads
Any business that depends on leads will take them to any place where they can find them. Local businesses such as lawyers, dentists, and home repair services always depend on leads and look for them wherever they can find them—and that’s why they result in the Rank & Rent strategy.
Renting an already established site, and claiming the leads that come with the site doesn’t require much liability and obligation as other methods used to draw leads.
Businesses trying out to target a new type of consumers
Rented sites make it much easier and cheaper to venture into a new customer base. For instance, if an IT company considering to start WordPress web hosting services would like first to test the market before they fully venture into the business.
By successfully ranking, the client will know that you have managed to target the clients in question, and in case they don’t have an interest in your client, the costs will be very low.
Now, since you understand what motivates those who consider the Rank & Rent strategy, as well as the clients who are likely to invest in this strategy, you are ready to start your own strategy. The following steps will assist you to build a site, rank it, and get your first client.
The steps to Rank & Rent a website
- Select a niche
- Select a domain name
- Set up a content management system
- Evaluate your competitors
- Do keyword research
- Create content
- Get added to Google’s Search Console
- Set up a Google My Business (GMB) account
- Complete off-site SEO
- Rent out your site
In case any of the above steps sounds confusing, don’t worry about anything, as we shall discuss all of them in detail.
Selecting a Niche
You need to be careful when selecting your niche. Remember, you need to have a balance where the nice is profitable enough to rent out for a better price, but not very competitive that you will spend a lot of money when ranking the site. That’s the reason why it’s recommendable to focus on local SEO.
To approach this decision, you need to narrow down an industry and city where you need to concentrate your efforts.
Many people who are successful in ranking and renting sites do that by attracting leads. If you want to do the same, you should start by considering the businesses that have many leads. Some of these businesses include:
- Selective health professionals, such as cosmetic surgeons and dentists.
- Service professionals such as renovators, roofing experts, and landscapers.
- Beauty professionals like manicurists and hairdressers.
- Destinations like spas, resorts, and wineries.
So, let’s say that your target “tenant” is a hairdresser. This is a perfect client since there are not many national hairdressing companies.
Also, you will need to focus on a certain city is you will need to sell the leads.
Experts in this industry say that you should never go national when trying to rank and rent your first websites. Rather, select a medium-sized city, with a healthy number of businesses. When you try to target a small community, you will end up with a small pool of prospective tenants to select from. If you select a big city, on the other hand, you will find yourself dealing with a lot of competition, which will seriously cut into your costs.
From our previous example, there are a lot of hairdressers in almost every other city. However, you will find more of them in cities with a lot of women with natural hair.
So, you need to start by creating a small list of medium-sized cities, as this will make it easier for you to research each city. You can do some simple Google Search to find out how well each city fits your ideal client. Find out how many hairdressers are operating in that city, as well as the keywords that are ranking in that city.
This information will assist you in identifying your possible clients, and it will come in handy when you start developing your content. Even though it’s not important for you to be near the city that you select, it can be beneficial if you have a large portfolio of cities. Being able to meet the client in person can assist you in building a relationship that can lead to a more steady and reliable business.
Once you have a location and niche in mind, you will now need to choose a domain name.
Choosing a Domain Name
It’s important to take your time when choosing the domain name that you want to use when ranking and renting your website. Today, Google does not give as much weight for domains with exact keywords as before, but you should always try to fit a couple of keywords in your domain name.
When doing so, you will find that not many single-word domains for a hairdresser are available—but you might have luck in the niche you’ve chosen. In case you hit a wall, try to put together various keywords in a creative manner so that you can find the perfect combination.
Hairdressers offer services like hair wash, blow out, haircut, barber services, head massage, custom scalp treatments, hair color, hair extensions, and hair loss treatment, among other services. These, as well as other related phrases, can make good ideal for creating a domain name.
You can come up with something like:
And other interesting ideas, but you need to be creative with this. Now, when you find the perfect domain name for the best price, now you need to set up your website. Today, this is a very easy step—thanks to CMS. This now takes us to the third point—CMS.
Setting Up A CMS (Content Management System)
A Content Management System, not just one—but a good one, is essential as it helps you to avoid spending most of your time managing the content in your site, as well as making sure that the content displays properly. Today, WordPress is one of the best CMS that you’ll ever come across for a number of reasons. First, it’s free, and it has a large community number of enthusiasts who are ever-improving this CMS with amazing themes and plugins—and most of them are free.
It doesn’t matter how you would like your site to appear or act. WordPress likely has a solution for that. Today, you can find thousands of high-quality guides and videos online that can assist you in how to use WP as your CMS. You should capitalize on these in case you need some assistance—that’s if you are new to the process of creating sites. Veterans in web design don’t need to hear much about this.
Analyzing Your Competitors
Now, it’s time to get a bit technical with the Rank & Rent strategy. Once you have set up your site, you will want the site to rank quickly—especially when you want to control the costs. Therefore, you will need to analyze and understand what works best for your biggest competitors. This step will need some tools, but if you are already an SEO, there is a possibility that you are using them. Some of these tools include:
Ahrefs—to have a better understanding of your competitors
This is one of the best tools when it comes to analyzing the competitors in your niche, as it allows you to analyze all the major competitors in your local SEO niche. Most of the data that you get from this tool will be the base of all your off-site SEO strategies—and this shows the importance of this tool.
Now, start by auditing the major players in your niche. This tool will assist you in identifying your competitors by domain scores, traffic, keywords, as well as the number of competitors. However, you will need to concentrate on the backlink. You’ll need to know whom they are linking to, as well as their link building rate.
As you continue to develop your website, you will want to make sure that you try to match their backlink acquisition rate, and also try to acquire some of the links they already have. However, you need to note that you will be targeting websites in a niche that’s less competitive, and you shouldn’t expect a high rate of link acquisition. You might be needed to take things a bit easier when it comes to this.
Surfer SEO—to analyze their content
Apart from their link profiles, you’ll also need to pay more attention to the content that’s making the website rank better. Here, you will use Surfer SEO, which is a tool that will assist you in doing a better analysis on a detailed level. This tool doesn’t just show the keywords your competitors are using, but also their rank on SERPs.
Surfer SEO also allows you to have insights about the ideal word length, and this is becoming important as Google continues to refine its search intent understanding. Everything that you learn in this step will play a major role in helping you to create better content.
Today, there are endless approaches that you can use to find the right keywords. However, the best approach for you should be based on your objectives for renting out the site. You will realize that most of your clients will need to rent your site for the purposes of generating leads.
Therefore, you’ll need to focus on the keywords used in the last stage of the buying process. These keywords include words like “where to find,” “cost,” and “how to buy,” among others. When doing your keyword research, ensure that you research for keywords with:
- Low difficulty
- Low competition
- A reasonable number of clicks
- Reasonable search volume
One of the best ways to concentrate on the underutilized keywords is by using the Content Gap feature in Ahrefs. This feature will enable you to make comparisons of the keywords ranking for multiple competitors, as well as the ones that are not.
The ideal places where you can concentrate on for a better ranking potential are the gaps that you find in the targeted keywords. If you focus on a small area, you will find substantial gaps that will enable you to have an early lead for particular keywords.
When you have the right keywords list, you can now start focusing on content creation.
First, you will need to create some basic content for the home page, describing the website’s area of expertise. In addition to that, you will also need to create some “contact page” and “about” content, which gives authority and legitimacy to your visitors. When you are done with that, you’ll now want to focus on creating informational blog articles.
Every post you create should be very informative, and it should focus on assisting your readers to take the required step, and give you their contact information—what we call lead generation. Any content that does not serve this purpose will still assist your site to rank, but won’t help you in lead generation.
Now, let’s go back to our example, where we are creating a website targeting hairdressers in Florida. Let’s assume that your keyword research revealed that scalp treatment didn’t have significant keyword difficulty, and we can even narrow that down to “hair growth.”
The information on your content shouldn’t appear to be commercial, rather, it should be informational, and then let the links direct your readers to specific service providers. When creating your content, you should try as much as possible to create compelling and high-quality content.
You should note that this will not only assist your website to rank better, but it will be beneficial for your future clients, who will use the content to gauge whether your site is worth their investment.
Creating long-form content
If you don’t have the time or skills needed to create long-form content, you can opt to outsource it. However, you will need to use content creation services with an SEO background.
Getting the Site Added To Google Search Console
What’s Google Search Console? This is a free service that’s provided by Google, and it allows you to edit the settings, and gather information about how your site appears in SERPs. The first step that will get your site to be indexed in Google SERPs is submitting your sitemap via the console. This is essential, especially if you want to analyze and improve your website—a key step in Rank & Rent.
This is a simple process, which starts with a verification process. Here, you will be taken through a number of tasks just to confirm if you own the site you want to verify. Once you finish this process, you’ll now be able to access the search console menu, where you will get a number of options.
Here, you can link your analytics account, edit the setting on how Google can crawl your site, and also analyze all the traffic flowing to your site. Once you finish that, you’ll need your site to be verified in GMB.
Setting up GMB
You can try to get your website verified on GMB if you want to enjoy the benefits of appearing on Google Local Pack as well as Google Maps. This is an essential step that you shouldn’t skip. Having your site listed in Google Maps is essential, as you’ll realize that the map pack is higher than an organic listing in most of the local search results. This means that the listing on Google Maps usually gets more clicks, which translates to more leads.
You can do all this in the GMB dashboard. Mostly, Google will need to verify the legitimacy of the address of the phone number on the website to qualify. Also, you will find a detailed list of the ways that you can use to verify your page on Google My Business help page. Here, you will find all the verification steps needed, including email or phone number, among others. You can also use the mail verification method, where you will be required to request mail verification via the GMB dashboard. Then, you will receive a postcard with the code, which you will then enter into the console.
If you manage to get this far, you’ll be able to have full access to the different options in the dashboard, and this included access to the profile, where you can give a description with images, as well as accept interviews.
The last two options—email and phone are only available for certain businesses. Mostly, the business needs to be well-established, as well as have a strong and visible presence to qualify for any of these verification methods.
Doing Off-Site SEO
Creating good content is the beginning of ranking. As you create the content, you will also need to develop a wider profile, alongside an aggressive off-site SEO campaign. However, you will need to focus on the following areas:
These are your locations in Local Business Directories, and they are very easy to collect and qualify for. Citation is key as they show a lot when it comes to local relevance. First, you will need to start by checking major directories like YellowPages and WhitePages and then filling your profile. You can then proceed to Yahoo, Bing Business Places, and Small Business. You should also make sure that you have a Facebook Business Page to get some traffic from the platform too.
Once you do that, you need to start looking for directories that concentrate on your niche. Doing a simple Google search can assist you in getting a comprehensive list of these directories. Once you get the list, make sure that you select the most relevant, as well as high-quality directories—and then make sure that your registrations are evenly spread within a period of few months. You can also choose to outsource this step.
Remember the data you gathered when doing an audit of the backlinks on your competitors? Now it’s the time to use it in this step. You will need a wide backlink profile, which should come from different sources—but you will need to put more emphasis on link building through guest posts.
Guest posts give you the opportunity to show your relevance to the rest of the industry players. When you place them strategically and cover all the important information, guest posts will prove to be valuable to your overall authority.
Therefore, you will need to select reputable websites from your competitors’ backlink profile, and then start sending requests. Before you send the requests, just make sure that you have good topics in place for this exercise. If you don’t have any ideas, you can refer to your data and check the kind of topics that were helpful for getting your competitors’ posts approved.
You might realize that you will need to work on backlink creation for weeks and even months before you start seeing meaningful results—however, don’t allow that to discourage you. The moment you achieve a good and healthy profile, you will be in a better position to rent out your site.
Renting Out the Website
If you follow the above steps correctly, you should have a website that has some authority in the local niche. By now, the site might be appearing in several searches, and even outdoing some local businesses for certain keywords. That’s the place where you want your site to be right now—and you can begin to search for the first client to rent out the website.
For those who have never rented out a website before, there are a number of ways that you can use when finding the clients who are searching for sites to rent. Some of these methods include:
Cold calling businesses
With this, you only need to make several calls, and you will need to have your data ready since you will need to communicate and explain your value. Your pitch should be—you have an already ranked website, which is gaining leads, and you can direct these leads to that particular business for a certain fee. The fee can either be monthly or annually.
You should expect some negotiations during this process. For instance, the business might want some form of content added or ask you to turn away from discussing some services that the business doesn’t offer. Therefore, you need to be ready so that you can make a decision and deal with what you are comfortable with.
There is a possibility that you will underbid, especially when it’s your first time renting out a website—but you don’t have to worry about this. You can increase your rates the time you will be searching for your second client.
Brokering leads to middlemen
This process requires you to work with local and national services who buy leads at a lower price and then take a commission before forwarding the leads to their existing clients. This is an ideal option for you if you have a challenge in finding a business that can purchase your leads. Although they will not pay as much as an actual business will, they will not need you to change your site so that you can accommodate them. All they need is the leads, and they will not care how you got these leads in the first place.
Networking to sell leads
Here, you should use the existing networks in your niche to introduce your lead generators to clients interested to buy. Mostly, they usually take a smaller percentage that middlemen—or no cuts if you’ve opted to pay their membership fees.
If you explore these options well, then you shouldn’t have any problem in finding clients who will rent your site.
Now, this digital marketing strategy will assist you to rank and rent out a website successfully. By now, you should be aware of the things you need to consider when choosing a domain and niche, and also the tools that you will need when setting up a content management system (CMS), analyzing your competition, as well as generating your first keywords.
You have an idea of the content that you will need for the website, how to get the site listed in the GMB dashboard as well as Google’s search console, and where you need to focus your off-site SEO link building efforts. Lastly, you will not have a problem with sourcing your clients—although this might take time before you land your first client.