Rank and rent refers to a digital marketing strategy that involves building a site and nurturing it until it becomes visible to the search engines. When it achieves a high local rank, you then rent it out to a business who is interested in acquiring new leads. You collect profits from all the business leads the website generates.
This approach is something that local SEO veterans are running to because it is simple and easy to scale while being incredibly lucrative.
What is Lead Generation?
HomeAdvisor and Yelp rank web pages for local search related keywords. Their business model depends on ranking for search phrases and then selling them leads from the Google local search traffic or paid advertising.
Rank and Rent Business Model
The rank and rent business model is a variation of this approach. Rank and rent rents the entire website along with all of the keywords that it ranks for to a single business.
This is an alternative to taking an existing site-built and working to get it rank within the search engine. The new websites are built, are tailored to a niche rather than a specific business. It’s still necessary to perform all the tasks that go into helping that website rank with the search engines. He must create content, do on page optimization, build a backlink profile, and so on.
For instance, someone in St. Petersburg, Florida could build a website for pool cleaning in the area with a domain like StPetersburgPoolCleaners.com. Keeping the domain name generic not only helps make it easier to rank for those local search keyword phrases but allows you to rent it to any pool cleaning business that services the St. Petersburg area.
The hard part is understanding how to setup call forwarding and call tracking to properly send the leads to the business. You aren’t a pool cleaner or a plumber and the people are calling you for those services, so you need to send them directly to the person who can help.
Rank and rent websites are easy to recognize because the site is incredibly generic with the information it provides. It can also be difficult in some industries where licenses are required. Generally, once the SEO has found the business to take the leads, they include their license number and information on the website.
This variation on the standard lead generation model is good for the business because the business can benefit from the rank and rent website as well as rankings from their own website. This variation is ideal for the SEO expert because in the event that a business stops paying for the leads or decides they no longer want them, they can take the website and rent it to another business in the area. Oftentimes, local business owners don’t want those leads going to the competition so they jump on the opportunity to continue paying for leads from the property.
An alternative to this style of the rank and rent method is for the marketer to sell the warm leads to local businesses rather than renting out the entire website.
Businesses get the benefit of a pre-built website that’s already ranking and bringing in leads while the marketer gets money from the websites rental. Service companies love the arrangement because it is a risk-free way to get into an SEO property.
For the marketer, rank and rent provides the promise of steady money without having to deal with day to day client work. The SEO marketer gets to create and optimize the website based on their own ideas of best practices instead of having to work within a client’s request and still gets income. While you are in the process of ranking the website, you have complete and total freedom to make decisions without having to report to a client every day. This can also be a good way for them to demonstrate skills to prospective clients when they are just getting started in the industry.
On the other side of things, the business renting the website or buying the leads has all of the benefits of the established website without having to wait for the results. Investing in a good SEO professional can be expensive which makes the cost of renting an already optimized website attractive.
Local Search Keyword Ranking
HomeAdvisor and Yelp use their own sites to rank for search queries to sell ads and leads. An expose was recently published revealing the GrubHub buys domain names that match business names to sell leads from the unofficial website. The screenshot below shows that Google is ranking GrubHub for the name of the Mushers Deli Restaurant and the moshersgourmetlongbeach.com website, also owned by GrubHub is ranking below it.
The expose reported that ranking a business name is a way to attract users to the GrubHub own site and when they click a button to place the order GrubHub gets a referral fee. Big brands like GrubHub rank domains other than its own in Google to generate leads. Though GrubHub is not practicing Rank and rent, it is ranking websites other than its own for lead generation purposes.
The rank and rent variation of this tactic involves ranking a website for the purpose of generating leads. The difference is that with the rank and rent model the search marketer isn’t selling the weeds but renting the website itself.
Is it Easy to Exploit Local Search Ranking?
In early 2019, website created almost entirely with Latin language filler content was able to ranked number one in the Google local search. Nearly all of the content was written in an extinct language and it’s still managed to rank at the top of local search.
The site ranked for months. Google didn’t remove the Latin language site until an article was published about it. The fact that his sight written almost entirely in an extinct language can rank in me Google local search exposes a weak spot in the local search algorithms.
The concept of rank and rent is not new. Domain brokers have been renting their domains for over 15 years now. The practice of ranking in renting domains for lucrative keywords has been around even longer as I’m aware of many people who rented or sold domains that ranked.