If you're looking for a side hustle or a way to make money online, you know how hard it can be. There are countless options, and everyone says their way is the best.
You may have even tried a few and now discovered rank and rent.
This guide will explain what rank and rent is and how you can use it to make money online.
The topics I'm going to cover are:
- What is Rank and Rent?
- What Businesses Rent Websites?
- Rank and Rent Benefits
- Rank and Rent Drawbacks
- How to Build a Rank and Rent Website
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is Rank and Rent?
I first learned about ranking and renting websites from the owner of Detailed.com, Glen Allsopp, in 2017. Glen is also the owner of Gaps.com and Viperchill and started his digital marketing career working for Hewlett Packard, Nissan, and Land Rover.
If there's one thing he knows and understands, it's online marketing and ranking and renting websites. It's a very effective way of making money online.
It works like this…
You, a website owner, rent out your “ranked” website to relevant businesses and professionals. They rent it because it ranks on the first page of Google and (or) Bing and generates leads.
Think of yourself as a commercial landlord, renting your digital real estate (your website) to a tenant who uses it to conduct business.
The business owner pays you in addition to (or instead of) advertising. You simply swap out a generic logo you were using for theirs and add their phone number to your website.
It's a win-win for you and the business owner. You get paid a monthly rental fee for your first-page placement in the SERPs (the Search Engine Results Page), and the business owner gets their business ranked on page one for less than they'd typically pay for ads.
What Businesses Rent Websites?
Each business has unique needs for them to be successful. Those who benefit the most by renting a website are those who are actively seeking new business and leads.
They may already be paying thousands of dollars every month to advertise their business on Google, Bing, YouTube, Facebook, etc.
The types of businesses that rent websites can be:
- Rug Installation
- Specialty Restaurants
- Law Firms
- Electricians, and so on…
Rank and Rent Benefits (Pros)
- There is generally less competition because you're targeting local search queries.
- You're not working for your clients. You're only renting them a website, which is far less stressful and time-consuming.
- It's highly scalable; you can rent more websites as your business grows.
- With established sites and clients, it's a relatively hands-off way to earn significant passive income.
- Unlike client SEO (when you work on their existing website), you don't have to convince them of anything with rank and rent. You've already got the results to show them.
- It's low-maintenance and high profitability when done right.
- It can be more lucrative than affiliate marketing sites. Although individual websites typically generate less revenue than an affiliate site, they are easier to build and rank. Therefore, it's easier to scale.
- Instead of going all-in on one big authority website, you can reduce your risk of lost rankings across many smaller sites.
Rank and Rent Drawbacks (Cons)
- It's a numbers game. Not every website will rank, so you must build many sites.
- Rank and rent is getting more competitive as skilled SEOs, and new site owners discover its advantages.
- It can be hard to rank on Google's 3-Pack (where Google ranks the top local results) because you don't have an established business or address (which makes it difficult to get a Google My Business (GMB) profile and five-star reviews).
- Your client's customers may be less inclined to trust them (or their business) because of a lack of reviews and verified GMB listing.
How to Build a Rank and Rent Website
Rank and rent websites are generally easier to build out than affiliate websites. Because your audience is local, there are usually fewer competitors when done correctly. Your first steps are deciding which industry to be in and where…
Choosing a Niche
When starting SEO, take some time to choose the right niche for you. Ask yourself…
- What are you good at?
- What do you know?
- How can you help people?
- Do you have a passion or interest in something?
With that said, consider that choosing a niche for local SEO is different from choosing one for an affiliate website or blog. It's better when your interests and opportunities intersect, but it's not always possible.
While it's great to find a niche you like, which is where you should start looking, it's secondary to finding a niche with businesses that need new leads. And a niche you can rank.
For example, B2B niches with companies that have aggressive sales teams don't rely heavily on search engine traffic. As a result, they are generally poor candidates.
However, you shouldn't ignore them either because you often find unexpected niches easy to rank for in places like these.
Look for niches dominated by small businesses rather than big companies, brands, and franchises.
Examples would be…
- Window cleaning
- Appliance repair
- Dog training
- Concrete cleaning
- Aluminum welding
Like all niches, you're looking for that sweet spot with enough search traffic to make it viable but not too much that it's overly competitive.
Look for sub-niches with larger niches. Rather than automotive repair, for example, you might look at dent repair.
Choosing a Location
You can stick to a single niche and target many locations or stick to a single location and target many niches.
Profitable niches are generally more challenging to find than locations. And, once you understand a niche and know how to rank it, your chances of ranking more sites in that niche are better.
If you have the resources, you can do both: multiple niches and multiple locations. But before you can run, you must learn to walk.
When choosing a location, look for cities and towns with 100,000 to 300,000 people.
If it's too big, the competition is too heavy. Too small, there will be too few searches.
Choosing a Domain
Now that you have your niche and location, you'll need a domain to build your site. The best domain for a local business is a country-specific domain. For example:
- Canada (.ca)
- Australia (.au)
- United Kingdom (.uk)
- Germany (.de)
The top-level-domain (TLD) for the United States is .us and is acceptable for a small business, but .com is more common.
Next, you'll need a domain name. For example, you can choose an exact match name, like “deckrepairinseattle.” Or you can choose a partially matched name like “deckexperts” or “deckpros.”
Choose a Website CMS (Content Management System)
A CMS, or content management system, is a platform that gives you control of your website. Many different CMS platforms are available, but some of the most popular ones include WordPress, Weebly, Wix, Joomla, and Squarespace.
These platforms offer responsive designs that look good on all devices and have easy-to-use interfaces. They also work with Google My Business (GMB).
The most popular CMS, and the one recommended, is WordPress.
WordPress is free and customizable, with thousands of extensive guides and tutorials online. It's also the most flexible CMS with many features and plugins.
Content is the most important part of your website.
When people search online, they want answers to their questions, not a pretty website. A good-looking website is helpful, especially for rank and rent, but it's secondary.
And it's also your content that ranks in search engines and converts readers into leads. So, if it's no good and doesn't help your reader, it won't do either.
Your content must be relevant to your niche and location. And the broader keyword coverage (phrases people are searching online) you have, the more traffic and leads you will generate.
Depending on your competition, you should consistently publish new content, including niche-specific and location-specific content.
This shows Google, Bing, etc., that your site is valuable and continues to add value, and is worth ranking higher.
Additionally, create multiple forms of content (such as images, videos, downloadable PDFs, etc.) to add value and appeal to a broader audience.
With high-quality content, you can then focus on creating an attractive website. It should have a professional look and be easy to navigate.
Because rank and rent requires many sites to be profitable, you'll likely settle on a single design with minor modifications that works for all of your websites.
Ranking your Website
To rank higher on search engines like Google, you must learn (and practice) SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Your content must target specific keywords and topics to rank well on search engines and attract potential customers. Keywords and topics are critical because they are what people search for when looking for a particular product, service, or solution.
If your content contains keywords and phrases related to your business and your location, those will form the foundation of your content strategy and search engine rankings.
Once you know what your content is about, you can break your SEO efforts into two categories. On-page SEO and Off-page SEO.
On-page SEO (which can include technical SEO) refers to on-page elements, as you would probably expect.
Starting with on-page SEO, your most important element is content. It must be clear, concise, and answer your searcher's query.
Other on-page elements include:
- Your title
- Headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
- Meta description (although less important today for SEO),
- Image alt-text
- Post and page URLs
- Internal linking
- User experience (mobile responsiveness, site speed, etc.)
On the other hand, Off-page SEO optimizes your website through external efforts. It refers to all SEO tactics that don't fall under the on-page category, such as:
- Social media mentions and engagement (also referred to as social signals)
- Citations (from Chamber of Commerce, Yellow Pages, etc.)
- Google My Business (GMB) profile,
- Press Releases
- Link building (although the risk vs. reward and importance of link building for SEO today is a debated topic).
Off-page signals are how search engines determine the authority and trustworthiness of a website. They are sometimes referred to as SEO “boosts” and can be tremendously helpful when ranking.
However, they are also more volatile than your on-page elements, meaning they can help and hurt your SEO efforts.
Therefore, your on-page elements should be your priority.
When search engine algorithms are updated (which is often), the importance of your content and other on-page elements rarely changes. If anything, they become more important.
However, ranking with SEO “boosts” is risky. They get abused and exploited over time as people use them to fool search engines.
Therefore, new updates often aim to reduce their importance or identify when they violate Google's SEO guidelines (the Google SEO guide is a great place to begin your SEO journey by the way).
Sites that drop in the rankings after a search engine algorithm update often do so because they rely on SEO boosts rather than quality content and technical performance.
There are many courses that teach you step by step how to rank local websites. There are free resources such as YouTube, for example, and affordable local SEO courses on Udemy.
Google My Business (GMB) and Google 3-Pack
As a local site owner, your goal is to appear on the Google 3-pack. The Google 3-pack is the top three search results that appear for a local query (example below).
The 3-pack is not easy to get into, and the competition is heavy, but it's possible.
As discussed above, the first thing you must do is optimize your site for local SEO. Next, you'll need a Google My Business (GMB) profile.
A Google My Business (GMB) account is critical for a website's visibility and search results for local SEO. In addition, it allows businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across various Google services such as search and maps.
It's free and provides legitimacy, and improves click-through rates and conversions.
Then, if you can get them, you want as many five-star reviews as possible. This can be difficult as a rank and rent site owner because you don't have a legitimate business. You're just renting your site to one.
Some rank and rent site owners buy reviews, but sites like Google, Amazon, etc., are getting much better at detecting fake ones. Getting caught can do more harm than good for your SEO efforts.
Call and Email Tracking
Call tracking is critical to your success. Knowing how many leads your site generates allows you to rent websites and other digital assets faster. Depending on tracking depth, you can prove call data, statistics, and contact information.
Your site should also generate leads through email, which you will want to keep track of.
Find Clients to Rent Your Website
Before renting out your website, you'll need to make sure you're ranking well for high-traffic keywords and generating enough leads from phone calls, emails, etc.
You'll get this information from your tracking data.
The number of leads your site generates will determine your monthly rental rate. With that information, you can start reaching out to potential clients.
The first group of potential clients are those advertising (on the search engines) for the same or similar keywords. They're already spending money to generate leads.
You can even work out how much they're paying each month by calculating the CPC (cost per click) and the number of clicks. Of course, you don't know exactly how many clicks they're getting, but Google provides approximate searches. And with your site ranking and getting clicks, you have some baseline data to estimate how much they're paying each month.
If you can offer them a better rate for a similar number of leads, you have a good pitch when reaching out to them.
You can do this through email, cold calling, or even visiting in person if you live or work nearby.
Your second group of potential clients is any related business with a website ranked on page two or higher. In most cases, they don't have the time or resources to put into SEO.
They may have also considered advertising but found it too costly, and if you can offer them an acceptable rate, there's a good chance they'll become your client.
The third potential client group is any other businesses that match the niche and location you've targeted.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Rank and Rent for Beginners?
Rank and Rent can be difficult for beginners because ranking new websites on search engines for competitive keywords is hard. And even when you get it ranked, it can be challenging to maintain.
Beginners need patience. There's a lot to know about SEO, and it's a pretty steep learning curve.
SEO is also constantly changing, particularly local SEO, so building foundational knowledge while keeping up with new changes is difficult. It's not impossible, of course, and there are many great resources to help you.
But if you're only starting and want a quick way to make money, rank and rent might not be the easiest way.
It is a good business model, though, and there are still many opportunities and untapped markets. In addition, compared to ranking an authority site, or even a smaller niche website, rank and rent can be easier.
Is Rank and Rent Better Than Flipping
Rank and rent is different from flipping a website because you're still responsible for the site's day-to-day operations. You're also on the hook to get traffic and search engine rankings.
However, the benefit of hanging onto your site and renting it out is that you get paid monthly, usually anywhere from $500 – $1500/month.
It's also easier to find a tenant who wants to rent your site than it is a buyer who wants to buy it.
If you're confident in the website and your ability to maintain its traffic, renting is usually a better option than flipping. Your income potential over the years will be greater.
On the other hand, if you don't want the headache of finding renters and chasing people down for money every month, flipping your site for an instant windfall is an option.
Is Rank and Rent Worth It?
Rank and Rent is worth it for those willing to learn and put in the work, especially if you're an experienced SEO.
Whether doing SEO for yourself or a client, it's definitely worth it.
Many opportunities still exist with an estimated 10,000 cities, suburbs, towns, etc., and thousands of niches.
And, like all methods of making money online, it takes time, effort, and patience. All seem competitive, and to an extent, they are… but all you have to do to separate yourself from 90% of your competitors is not quit.
It's also worth mentioning that when you put your time and effort into ranking and renting websites, you're also gaining valuable skills you can use to start a digital marketing agency for example, or a blog that makes money.
Is Rank and Rent Legal?
Yes, ranking and renting websites is legal. However, you should consult a lawyer and prepare liability waivers, disclaimers, etc., before renting your website.
You should also look into a small business insurance policy.
One potential issue is that you add a piece of content to your site that your client's customer considers offensive. Of course, that's not your intent, but it can happen, and the customer associates that site with your client, not you.
If it's a big customer and your client suffers a significant financial loss, you could be held liable.
Consider another situation where you rent your website to a local retailer. A customer finds them through your website and visits the store. While shopping, they get seriously injured from a slip and fall.
The retailer will likely have liability insurance that covers the injured person. However, in a way, your site is a vote of confidence or recommendation of that store. Don't underestimate the potential of getting dragged into a legal situation like that, and even though you're not responsible, you may incur legal fees.
So rank and rent is legal, but you should protect yourself against unexpected losses and expenses like any small business.
You want to be an internet entrepreneur. You want to live where you want and earn passive income. You're not alone. I've been there too.
It's not easy, but you may be just a few small decisions away from finding the right path for you. Rank and rent is not for everyone, but it is a viable method for many to earn the income they need to live the life they want.
For more ways to make money online and from home you might get what you need from this list of gigs and side hustles.