If you’ve been around the SEO community for a while, then you’ve probably heard about rank and rent SEO.

You might even have heard the term ‘digital landlord‘ being thrown around.

In this article, we’re going to let you know what rank and rent SEO really is, and how you can become a digital landlord.

We’ll take an in-depth look at how the rank and rent model works, the local SEO skills you’re going to need, and how you can start to make money from the process.

What are the Rank and Rent SEO model?

The rank and rent SEO model is a simple yet quite ingenious concept. It is a type of SEO where someone builds the ranking of a website for local search terms and then rents that website out to local businesses.

For example, a website could be built that ranks highly for ‘plumbers in London’, and then rented out to a plumber in the London area. This model presents benefits for both the owner of the website and the company who is renting the domain.

Since many small companies do not have the time or resources to build a highly optimised site, rank and rent websites will always be in demand. This makes rank and renting an attractive proposition for anyone who has a decent amount of SEO knowledge.

Adding a ranking and renting aspect to your business model is bound to result in more profits and secure growth for your company. One of the best aspects of this technique is that each rank and rent site you own can be consecutively rented out to different people, so can provide income for a long time into the future.

What is a digital landlord?

An owner of a rank and rent website is sometimes referred to as a ‘digital landlord’. Just like a property landlord, a digital landlord rents out something he owns on a fixed term, and both parties can come to an agreement at the end of the term if they want to renew the lease.

If a business leasing a rank and rent website decides that they want to cancel their rental a the end of the agreed term, then this is no problem for the digital landlord. They can simply rent out the same domain to another eager business within the same niche.

This makes ranking and renting a very secure model for a website owner. There will always be interest for a site that is ranking highly on the search engines and it’s very unlikely that there’ll be a time when an owner struggles to find a ‘tenant’ for their domain.

Unlike a property landlord, the digital landlord does not have to make a large investment to acquire their website. A property landlord has to cough up hundreds of thousands of pounds for their properties, whereas a website can basically be built for free.

Is Rank and Rent SEO suitable for a beginner?

Although it is true that anyone can build a website, getting it to the top of the search engines is a completely different story. A decent level of local SEO knowledge is required if you want your site to be a top competitor.

The fact is that in order to attract investors to your rank and rent site, you have to make sure that it is ranking extremely well within that niche. In competitive niches, this will require some quite sophisticated local SEO strategies that most beginners won’t have come across.

Having said that, choosing your niche tactically will make it much easier to rank your website. Going into a market where there is little competition but still, interest from companies will require less heavy SEO in order to be competitive.

Additionally, building a website requires very little investment, especially when compared to other SEO practices. This could actually make ranking and renting a suitable model for SEO intermediates or dedicated beginners.

How are Rank and Rent different from other models?

It’s pretty clear that ranking and renting is quite a unique way to make money through SEO. In this section, we’ll compare a rank and rent model to other forms of digital marketing, and highlight the similarities and differences.

Many SEO experts will use a combination of the different models in order to maximise their profits and ensure they are always keeping up with the latest trends. People who are successful in the SEO world try to keep their fingers in as many different pies as possible.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting other people’s products and then earning a commission for any sales due to your marketing. This model is extremely popular and nearly everyone is doing it at some point in their SEO career.

One of the best things about affiliate marketing is that it is very easy to get into. There are loads of companies out there who are keen to offer affiliate programs to digital marketers and the amount of SEO knowledge required to be successful is relatively low.

A small slice of the pie

However, one of the downsides of this model is that the amount of money earned from each sale is very small. Obviously, the manufacturer of the products is going to take the majority cut of the profits, leaving little for the digital marketer.

This is why, in order to make real money from this method, the marketer has to have affiliate links in many different niches at the same time.

On the other hand, a single rank and rent website can generate much more revenue, and the digital marketer can set the rental price at whatever point they like. In a competitive niche, rank and rent lease prices can be very high, and a digital marketer can make reasonable profits just from one or two websites.

Additionally, any profits obtained from a rank and rent site all go straight to the owner and never have to be divided amongst multiple parties. This gives the site owner a much greater amount of freedom than with an affiliate strategy and they only ever have to answer to themselves.

Client SEO

The next SEO model we’re going to investigate is client SEO. Client SEO is a process where a business owner hires an SEO team to improve the ranking of their website on various search engines. Client SEO has been a popular model for many SEO companies for a long time.

Client SEO can be an extremely rewarding model and the best marketers can demand high prices for their services. However, a high level of SEO knowledge is required if you want to offer a great service to potential clients.

You have to know every type of SEO strategy inside out, and can’t really afford to make many mistakes on a client’s website.

Time-consuming

Additionally, client SEO can be a very time-consuming process. Firstly, you have to deal with the website you have inherited from the client. This website could be completely unoptimised and needs a full overhaul to even have a chance of competing on the search engines.

There are many processes to complete and think about, from keyword research to local SEO, and ideally, you’ll need a team of at least a few people in order to make this model viable. Clients always have very high expectations when they pay for an SEO service, and they are notoriously hard to please.

Although the initial process of creating a rank and website can also take a while, you’ll be able to set it up exactly how you want it to be.

A great thing about ranking and renting is that the ranking of your website will be constantly improving every time you rent it out. It gets to the stage where your websites will start to take care of themselves.

Lead Generation

The final model that we’re going to compare ranking and renting to is lead generation. Although not an explicit ‘SEO practice’, lead generation is an important aspect of any successful digital marketing campaign. Lead generation focusses on increasing the number of potential clients to your business.

As with client SEO, lead generation can take up quite a lot of time and resources. One of the most important parts of lead generation is understanding user intent – what the user is looking for when they are searching within your niche.

Understanding user intent allows a digital marketer to tailor the content they produce to fit in with what a user wants to find. Creating effective content can attract users to a business – known as ‘generating leads’.

Rank and rent IS lead generation

Ranking and renting a website is in itself a form of lead generation. In a nutshell, lead generation is the process of ranking highly for a keyword and then selling links from that page to the user. Similarly, ranking and renting is where you rank a whole website highly, and then sell that to a business.

The difference between ranking and renting and other forms of lead generation is that leads are generated completely naturally in the process of creating a high ranking website. There is little further work that needs to be done aside from building an attractive and optimised website.

When a client decides to rent out your website, all the backlinks and leads that you have generated over time are directed to them. This is a huge benefit for the client and should definitely be one of the big things you push during a sales pitch.

How to create a Rank and Rent website

Now, we’ll focus on how you can actually build your own rank and rent website. Carefully following these steps and doing further research will ensure that you create a highly optimised website that has an extremely strong ranking within your chosen niche.

Of course, this isn’t a recipe for instant success, and it’s always worth brushing up on your SEO knowledge if you want to create a website that is truly effective.

Find your niche

Choosing a niche is undoubtedly the most important part of any ranking and renting campaign. There are loads of things to think about when trying to find a niche and your choices really can make or break your website.

Survey the competition

Firstly, you want to choose a niche that business will be interested in but that isn’t ridiculously competitive. Attempting to rank your website for an extremely competitive niche is going to be very difficult, and only the most capable SEO experts will be able to do this effectively.

One thing you can do to reduce the competition is to focus on less in-demand locations.

For example, rather than attempting to rank a website for ‘cleaners London’, you could instead hone in on ‘cleaners Stratford’. It’s always easier to focus on local businesses rather than trying to create something that is more widespread.

Before deciding on a niche, it is essential to take a look at the competition that is already operating there. Surveying the competition allows you to work out whether or not you’ll be able to challenge them and also to get a sense of the potential of that niche.

Avoid address-specific business types

When you create a rank and rent website, you’ll have to optimise it for a particular address and location. This address can’t really be changed when a new client rents out the website, so it’s always best to look for a niche where the business address isn’t really important.

For example, the home address of a window cleaner isn’t important to the customer. This is because a window cleaner travels to the customer to conduct their business. This is a good example of a niche that does not address specific.

On the other hand, a business such as a cafe does have a permanent address that customers rely on. This makes the cafe niche not very compliant with ranking and renting. Although this might seem like a drawback of the rank and rent concept, there are plenty of non-address-specific niches to get into.

Having said all this, building websites for location-specific business such as cafes could be an extra service that you offer. Although this does not fall strictly into the ranking and renting model, creating high ranking branded websites can be very lucrative.

Choose something you’re passionate about

Although is not essential, choosing to work in a niche that you are passionate about will make the whole process a lot easier. It is also likely to result in your rank and rent websites being more effective and attractive to renters.

The truth is that you are going to spend a lot of time researching your niche and developing your website. If you choose something that you already have existing knowledge of, the process is bound to be faster.

Furthermore, local businesses will be much more willing to invest in a website that clearly has been made by someone who is knowledgable about the field and manages to convey their passion across the website’s content.

Choose a domain name

Selecting the domain name is another important thing to think about when building ranking and rent websites. If your aim is to rent out this website to different business owners, then you have to ensure that the domain name is going to universally apply to all of them.

It’s no good tailoring the domain name to your first client if you know that you’ll be leasing the website to someone else in the future. This will basically render your site useless for rental purposes – who is going to pay for a website that has another business’ name attached to it.

However, you do need to make sure that the domain name appears like a legitimate business. If we take our ‘cleaners Stratford’ example from before, then a valid domain name could be stratfordcleaningservices.co.uk.

Notice how this domain suggests a specific business but could apply to anyone who is offering cleaning services in the Stratford area.

Choosing an effective domain name is a balancing act. It definitely requires some in-depth thought and is a process that should never be rushed.

Keyword research

When you’re attempting to optimise a website for a specific keyword, it makes sense to do some search into that keyword. This is in order to ensure that your website is as relevant as it can possibly be. Making a relevant website is the only way to attract potential renters and also to rank effectively on search engines.

There are a variety of tools available to assist with keyword research. This research is essentially the process of understanding the language used by people searching within your niche. This is really the only way to discover what people are searching for.

An essential part of this research is finding out which keywords your competitors are ranking for. This will give you a great idea of which keywords you need to prioritise if you want to build a high ranking website.

Researching keywords should always be completed before you attempt to build a website. This is because you need to understand how difficult your optimisation is going to be, and whether it is even worth attempting – some keywords are very hard to rank for and give much traffic in return.

Build your website

Once you’ve picked your niche, domain name, and researched your keywords, it’s time to start building a great website. The first thing to focus on is creating some basic homepage content to clearly set out what your website specialises in.

In order to provide some authority to users of the website, it’s also important to add some ‘about us’ pages. This builds a level of trust with the user and makes them much more likely to engage with the website as a whole.

After you’ve set up the basics of the page, the next step is to write some engaging content that focusses on the low-competition, high search volume keywords that you researched earlier.

Write content

Writing great content can be one of the more difficult parts of creating a rank and rent site. It can also be very time consuming, and many web owners will turn to a content writing service if they don’t have the time to write the content themselves.

When you’re creating content for a rank and rent site, you should always focus on producing informational content. This is the best way to rank on search engines and is likely to attract the most users to your site.

This content shouldn’t really show a commercial side and should instead leave that work to the links that you include in the content. The local business that chooses to rent the site can then direct these links to their own business.

If you’re writing the content yourself, then you should do a bit of research to find out what makes great content. Here are some quick things to remember when making effective content:

  • Short paragraphs
  • Avoid walls of text
  • Skillfully incorporate links in the anchor text
  • Use simple and clear language

Renting out your website

So, you’ve made it this far. You have a great website that ranks for a variety of keywords and you’re ready to look for your first ‘tenant’. When it comes to making money from your site, you have a few different options.

We’ll go through each of these options below and explain their unique advantages:

Rent the whole site out to a local business

The first thing you could do is rent out the whole website to a local business. Providing that you’ve chosen a domain name that is universally suitable for a lot of businesses, there should be plenty of people interested in paying for your ranked site.

Even if your site only has a couple of good leads, there will still be a local business that could benefit greatly from those leads. Once you find a business owner willing to rent your site, you can touch it up with some of their brandings and then leave it in their hands.

It will still be your responsibility as the site owner to maintain the rankings of the site pages, but since this is on a local SEO level, this shouldn’t be too difficult to do. If you’d tried to cast your net over a wider area when you set up your site, then this is where you would start to struggle to stay ranked.

The best people to target when looking for tenants is those companies who aren’t ranking on the first page of Google within their niche but are bidding on keywords and trying to improve their ranking. These are definitely people who would be interested in well-crafted SEO websites.

Sell the website

If you just want the site off your hands, then selling it off completely could be a solution. Some investors will pay top dollar for a well-ranking website and many would prefer to own a page outright than having to pay per month.

However, it can be very hard to find a buyer for a new rank and rent site. Buyers are usually only interested if a site has lots of good leads and this usually isn’t possible for a site that has only just been set up.

If you are interested in selling your rank and lease site in the future, then we’d always recommend renting it out for a while first. This will let the site mature and really start to build established leads. Plus, it would be a shame to sell off your hard work without cashing in on it as much as possible.

Pay per lead

The final option is to allow different businesses to pay per lead for links on your web pages. This is a great idea if your site has a lot of traffic and you can attract multiple ‘tenants’ at the same time. Obviously, you also need plenty of leads on your site to rent out.

It’s up to you to decide whether you think you can have more success with making business owners pay per lead or renting the whole site with a per month rental agreement. Each method has its advantages and one may be better for certain situations.

Considerations to make before using the Rank and Rent model

Before attempting to build a website for rental, there are few things that you should consider. Ranking and renting definitely isn’t for everyone and for a lot of people, it won’t be the best SEO practice for them to get into.

Having said that, ranking and renting can be an extremely rewarding process if done correctly. It has one of the best profit margins out of any SEO practice and the ongoing maintenance of a website is fairly light on resources.

Here are the considerations we think should be made before using this model:

Do you have the required SEO knowledge?

Building a website that ranks well on Google is no easy task. It requires some pretty in-depth knowledge about local SEO, keyword optimisation, and of course the development of a website itself.

A rank and rent business website must be well-built in order to attract potential tenants and to develop leads. When you look at some of the best ranks and rent sites out there, you can clearly see that they’ve been created by someone with expertise in the field.

However, if you’re just getting into SEO, then don’t be put off by this. As with anything, it takes time and dedication to build up the skills and get yourself into a position where you are comfortable enough to jump into a website build.

Before starting a rank and rent project, make sure you are honest with yourself about your knowledge. Taking some extra time to learn more about the processes will undoubtedly pay off in the long run.

Will you be able to attract businesses

Since the main goal of a rank and rent campaign is to attract businesses, you should carefully consider if what you have planned is actually going to work. There really is no point jumping headfirst into a highly competitive niche that is going to be almost impossible to rank for.

To ensure the success of your site, you’ve got to do your research. This means finding a niche that has high search volume with low competition, discovering the best keywords to rank for, and generally confirming that your site will actually have a chance of ranking on Google.

Check out our ‘How to create a rank and rent webpage’ section for more information about the steps you should be taking before starting to build a website.

Are rank and rent really the best strategy for me?

We mentioned at the start of this section how rank and rent isn’t for everyone. Maximising the potential of rank and rent not only requires SEO skill and knowledge but also that you are operating within a niche that suits this model.

For many niches, other strategies such as affiliate marketing and client SEO will be much more effective. However, if you find a niche that suits rank and renting, you really do have an opportunity to strike gold.

Who invests in Renting Ranked websites?

So, who is your target audience when you’ve got a site that you want to rent out. Well, luckily, there is always a demand for any website that ranks within a niche. It doesn’t matter if you have a site for a dentist or a window cleaner – if it ranks well then it will sell.

Any business will benefit from a ranked website, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is willing to invest for the privilege. There are a few types of businesses that tend to be more interested in ranked websites that you should focus your attention on:

New businesses

New businesses are always looking to get their name out there as quickly as possible. This means they will definitely be interested in investing in a ranked website that can get their brand right to the top of a google search.

Many new businesses just don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to developing a ranked website so are always on the lookout for a site they can use, without having to do all the work. This is exactly why your ranked site is going to catch their eye and hopefully result in a sale.

Businesses that rely on leads

There are also plenty of businesses out there that rely on leads as their main source of traffic and income. If you can offer a business like this a website that is packed with great leads, then they will be delighted to pay a lot of money to use the site for themselves.

Businesses that are experimenting

There are also many established businesses that decide to experiment with their marketing techniques. This could be because they are unhappy with their sales and want to spread their brand, or they just want to see what works best for them.

These businesses will often test out a ranked site for a month or two at first, and then invest further if they start to see results. If you can impress them with your site, then they are highly likely to stick around and continue to reap the benefits.

What are the benefits of Rank and Rent?

We hope we’ve made clear in this article just how effective a rank and rent campaign can be. We believe it is one of the best practices if you want the opportunity to make some big bucks without significant risk.

Here’s a summary of a few of the benefits of building your own ranked websites:

Low investment

Unlike some other SEO practices, ranking and rental do not require a high initial investment of funds. It’s true that building a website can take some time, but there are no essential tools to purchase and everything can be completed in your own time.

Perhaps the best part about rank and rental websites is that they require very little maintenance once they are life. In fact, whenever your website is being rented out to a company, it is becoming more established and its ranking is likely improving.

Set your own rates

Another great benefit you receive from ranked websites is the ability to set your own rates. This allows you to value your work however you want to and you never feel like you’re giving it away for less than it’s worth.

This differs from strategies such as affiliate marketing, where all the money you earn is dictated by the rates set by the product manufacturer.

Reusable nature

The reusable nature of a ranked website can provide income to your SEO business for a long time into the future. If a company decides to end its lease with you, then you can simply rent the site out to someone else!

Since the site is improving over time, in most cases you will be able to increase your monthly rates every single time you pick up a new client.

Final Thoughts

The rank and rent model is an SEO strategy that is my preferred set up where you build a website to rank in search engines and rent this site out.

Local SEO consultants use this strategy and call themselves digital landlords.

How do you think the rank and rent model compares to affiliate marketing, client SEO or lead generation?

Would love to hear your thoughts by emailing james@fatrank.com if you are an SEO looking for new revenue streams.

Alternatively, if you are a business looking to rent out websites that drive enquiries that get a return on investment we can discuss.

James Dooley

About James Dooley

Digital Nomad who loves travelling the world networking while working on my laptop. Life is a perception of your own reality. You have no excuses and should be making memories every single day #LearnSomethingNew #Develop #Synergy #Network

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