The Rank & Rent Method (How To Make Money With Local SEO)

One of the best skills you can develop as an online marketer is the ability to generate high-quality/high-converting traffic for your own project or for clients.

Today I want to tell you about the “Rank & Rent Method”;

A simple, yet highly lucrative business model that you can start working on today to make money by providing quality leads to local business via SEO.

This method has been around for quite some time now, although not too many ever attempt it, but it’s an excellent way for those who have a basic knowledgeable in SEO to start their own online business.

In this guide, I will be showing you.

  • What is the Rank & Rent Method
  • How to get started with it
  • The Pros & Cons of this business
  • How you can make money with this (and how much)
  • Tools & resource to get you started
  • & some other tips and tricks to make this a successful venture.

It’s good to note here that I’ve never used the Rank & Rent method. But after working for a local digital marketing agency heading the SEO department, I have a good understanding of how local SEO works as I have consulted with many clients about this.

Interested learning the Rank & Rent Method?

Keep reading…

What Is The Rank & Rent Method?

rank and rent method

The Rank & Rent method is the business model where you rank websites for specific *local* keywords and then “rent out” that traffic to any willing local business.

NB: I will be using “Edinburgh” as a location to explain this idea. This is because a city like Edinburgh (which is still a big city with a lot of search volume and plenty of businesses) won’t have the overwhelming big-budget competition you would find in big cities such as London, New York, Paris, etc..

So, for example:

“Best Sports Bar in Edinburgh”

If you can rank for that keyword – which I will show you how to do pretty soon (it’s simple to do), you have the first and most important part of the Rank & Rent Method in the bag.

The traffic.

Once you have traffic coming to your website looking for the best sports bars in Edinburgh, you can then use various ways to monetize that traffic by “renting” it out.

(That is basically what the Rank & Rent method is all about).

Let’s now assume you have 500 people a day visiting that page and you have listed – in no particular order – the 5 best sports bars in Edinburgh.

You can then hit up all the sports bars mentioned and see if they would like to pay you for diverting that traffic to them and only them.

(If all 5 reject your proposal, fret not; you can always add and remove sports bars from your post as you wish).

If they accept to work with you, there are many ways you can monetize that traffic and I will explain to you all the options next:

How To Make Money With The Rank & Rent Method

how to make money with the rank and rent method

Pay Per Click to Website/Facebook Page

You can forge a deal where you send the traffic of that post to the business’s Facebook Page, their website, lead page, whatever.

Although it would take some work to set up, you can see and measure what links people are clicking and then charge the business for every click you send to their website.

PRO TIP: If the business you are negotiating with is already advertising on Google Ads (or Facebook Ads) they’d be more than willing to take on this approach – especially if the price is right.

Sponsored Banners

Another way you can monetize your niche-specific traffic is by renting out ad banners on that page.

For example, if you have a post listing the five best home-department stores in your area, you may want to offer ad banner space to the highest bidder in that space.

Again, you can either charge “per thousands of impressions” (CPM) or by click (CPC).

Offer an Exclusive Discount

Some businesses may also choose to offer a coupon code to be used only on your website, with the hopes that your readers pick them over others.

It would then be your job to push that coupon on that page giving readers more reasons to choose one business over the other.

Stamped as “The Best Choice”

This might be slightly shady here, but you can also offer (for a fee) that one of your listings be stamped as:

  • “the best choice” or
  • “best prices,” or
  • “local favorite”

Whatever it is – there are ways to entice a reader to click/visit one business over the other.

Bumped To The First Position (or Last)

Another way you can do it is by featuring the business at the top of your “Top 5/10/15 List” – or last.

The top (and even the last listing) tend to get the most eyeballs when the list is not in any particular order (i.e., not ranked by quality or price)

Google AdSense Might Be An Option Too

Google AdSense

All the above would involve having to deal directly with your prospective clients but if you want to outsource all of this leg work, you can set up Google Adsense on your site and let Google place their advertisers on your website – and you will be paid on a cost per click basis.

This is not the most profitable way of going about this, but it is the easiest.

It will save you from having to call up the businesses yourself and negotiate the fees – which can be awkward for a lot of people.

Upsell Other Services (Big Money Here)

Once you have a client working for you via the Rank and Rent model, you can then upsell other services you offer such as handling their website’s SEO, running ads for them, consulting, creating artwork design, etc…

If you deliver on your promises, they will trust you, and if they trust you, there’s no reason why they won’t work with you on other projects.

If you go down that route, which you should – this could be the beginning of your 360 digital marketing agency.

How To Price Your Traffic

This is where it can get confusing, and I’ll explain why;

When it comes to media buying (buying traffic and eyeballs), not all industries pay you the same.

If you rank for the keyword “best hotels in Edinburgh“, that is a much more valuable keyword than “best bakeries in Edinburgh“.

This is because there’s a lot more money that flowing to hotels than bakeries so the price they are willing to pay for new customers won’t be the same either.

Does that mean you should only target wealthy industries?

No – that’s where the competition is the toughest, but I will explain this more down below.

You just have to figure out what is fair for that industry.

The price you charge also has a lot to do with the quality of the traffic you are offering too.

If your visitors are coming from Google after searching for “best Italian restaurants in Edinburgh” – this is considered as “high-quality traffic” because there’s an intent behind it – people want to eat at an Italian restaurant, and they likely want to do it soon.

There’ s a lot that goes into it and as I said; not all business will pay you the same but there is one way you can get an estimation on how much your traffic is worth:

See how much Google is charging for that keyword in the Google Keyword Tool:

adwords for the rank and rent method 2

As you can see, the bid price is what business is willing to pay for a top position for that keyword.

It’s also pretty clear that the cost per click for “Edinburgh hotels” vs. “bakery Edinburgh” is staggering.

If you can match that, or do better – you have a starting point and you might also have some customers.

How To Get Started With The Rank & Rent Method

Now that you know how the Rank and Rent method works, let me show you what you need to have (and do) to be able to pull this off successfully.

You Need A Local Domain

If you’re going to be local, you need to find a local domain.

While you can find a country-specific domain, I would suggest you stick to .com and then have the name of the location in the domain name, for example:

Best of Edinburgh Scotland
Make sure you make your site look much better than this.

It doesn’t really matter much how you position your domain name, but you do need to have the target location in there.

You also need to leave it open to be able to cover a variety of services as well.

For example; might sound like a good idea, but it isn’t.

Not only is it way too long but it also keeps you stuck with just one very small and specific niche; “vegetarian restaurants.”

Now that you have a local domain ready to go, all you need to do is get yourself a free WordPress installation and also a sexy *premium* WordPress theme.

How To Register A Local Domain (& Get Hosting)

For your domain registrars and hosting packages, I have two options for you here – actually 3 – but I will tell you about the third (the best option) further down below, however – two ok ones are:

These are good enough to get started with and even with a cheap package ($10 per month) can are up and running with more hosting power than you’re going to need.

In time, it would be wise to upgrade to better/faster hosting but for now; you’re good with a basic plan.

Installing A WordPress Website

The Difference Between A Page & A Post (In WordPress)
Create your first WordPress website here.

You are also going to need a website to run this, and there’s no better option than WordPress.

The domain registrars mentioned above all offer you a free WordPress website to go with your new domain but don’t let this fool you; WordPress websites are always free.

However; they do offer one-click installation which is way easier and way faster than having to learn to set it up by yourself (not recommended).

Getting A Premium WordPress Theme

premium local wordpress themes

Another thing you’re going to need is a sexy and sleek WordPress theme.

There are thousands of free ones out there which you can look into, but ideally; you want to find a premium theme for the get-go.

(You’ll eventually want to move to a premium theme further down the line so why not get it set up while your site is still empty?)

My favorite place to find and buy premium themes is ThemeForest.

All you have to do is to just enter a query of what your site is for / how you want it to look and the search engines will reveal hundreds of beautiful themes that you can choose from.

That is all – you’ve officially set up your Rank & Rent website.

Let’s see what you have so far:

  • You have a domain
  • You have a functioning WordPress site &
  • You have a premium theme that will wow readers.

Your new business is set up for a whole year now and your overall investment so is around $100 or a bit more.

Not bad right?

Now what?

Now you need to learn how to rank for local keywords because if you want to “rank and rent,” you absolutely need to know how to rank.

That is where SEO comes in.

How To Get Traffic To Your Rank & Rent Local Website

example of what local organic search results will look like

What you need to do here is simple;

Find keywords that people will be searching for in that city and create content covering that topic.

This is where the actual work comes in and you are going to need to be writing a lot of “top 5/10/15” type posts that list “the best *whatever* in your city”.

This is what is going to bring in the high-quality, high-converting traffic mentioned above.

You can hire someone to write the content for you, but I do not recommend this as it can get very expensive very quickly.

PRO-TIP: Ideally you create your first “Rank and Rent” business for a city that you know well – ideally your hometown. Do not hire people who have no idea what they are talking about to write the content for you.

By knowing well the city you will be servicing, you’re able to deliver a genuine and unique perspective that would be appreciated by readers.

Don’t underestimate this.

Great – how do you find local keywords to rank for?

Easy, this will be the best way to start:

Using Google Autosuggest

This is the best way to find key-phrases related to your city that people are actively looking for.

Simply go to and type in;

Best a in Edinburgh
Best b in Edinburgh
Best c in Edinburgh

google autosuggest for the rank and rent method
Learn more about the Google Autosuggest tool.

You need to go through the entire alphabet one by one and make a list of the keywords that you think would be more popular than others.

Don’t worry too much about keyword volume at first, it really doesn’t matter that much, but you should know by common sense what keywords will likely have the most searches.

If you use this method, I am sure you are going to find more plenty of keyword ideas to work with and that will keep you busy for months (possibly years).

PRO-TIP: Focus On Specific Industries First

Even though I said you should keep your brand open to more than just one service, it’s always best to get authority on one specific topic/subject first before moving on to others.

For example, if you’re going to start with restaurants, cover every type of restaurants:

  • Best vegetarian restaurants
  • Best vegan restaurants
  • Best Italian restaurants
  • Best Indian restaurants

This creates a sort of synergy for your website and it will help you solidify your authority on Google much quicker than targeting random keywords such as:

  • best plumbers
  • best pet stores
  • best dentists
  • best hotels

Once you have established authority in one niche, you can safely move on to other services, BUT; you do not want to stary too far too soon.

For example, if you start with restaurants first, then the next logical step would be nightclubs, then lounges, then coffee shops and so forth.

See where I am going with this?

This is not a must, but I find it provides a much better experience overall.

Remember that whoever is looking at restaurants, may also be interested in reading about bars – this gives the reader more intent to stick around your website.

But do you have to stay with the best of / top 10 type posts?


A few months down the line, you are going to have a few posts that are getting a significant amount of traffic and your site is growing slowly but surely.


The next best step here is to create different types of content that compliment your already existing content about your chosen city (sort of like a city-guide).

A perfect example of this would be:

“How To Have A Romantic Date Night In Edinburgh”

That post will give your site depth, thus it doesn’t look so robotic.

You can also then link to previous content on your site (such as your post covering the “best Italian restaurants” for example).

You get what I mean here?

Always give the readers more than what they’ve bargained for.

This not only helps your rankings but also creates a much more valuable experience for the reader.

You do this not because you are so incredibly kind (maybe you are), but because an engaged user who loves your site and returns to it often will fetch a lot more money on the marketplace when doing the “renting” part.

So there you have it.

Even though it is simplified for the sake of time, that is pretty much what you need to be doing to get your website up and running.

Always remember; the more traffic (i.e eyeballs) on your site, the more money you can make.

Let’s now talk about some;

Pros & Cons Of The Rank & Rent Method

pros and cons of the rank and rent

PRO: Easy To Rank

If you’re not in a deadly competitive location, keywords such as the ones described above would be relatively easy to rank for.

In megacities such as New York or London, these can get a bit competitive. However; it still isn’t impossible to do.

PRO: You Can Quickly Make Money

Once you get that traffic, you can quickly start monetizing using the methods mentioned above.

By rough estimation, I would say you need to have at least 5,000 people a month coming to your website (or specific page) before any worthwhile advertiser takes you seriously – so don’t start looking for advertisers from day one.

This depends on a lot of variables, but with the right people leading this, I’ll be surprised if a Rank & Rent style business doesn’t end the year making at least $3,000+ a month.

PRO: You Have Unlimited Possibilities

As described above, there are many industries you can target and rank for so there will always be room to grow.

Restaurants, pool halls, coffee shops, yoga studios, dancing lessons, gyms, homes for the elderly etc…

You really are only limited by your imagination.

PRO: You Can Also Target Other Cities

Even though I advise you start with your city first, there’s no reason why you can not do the same for other cities across the world – even if you’ve never visited.

While this would make it much MUCH harder to pull off, the experience you learn from your first venture covering your hometown will give you the right tools and expertise to be able to replicate this for just about any city on Earth.

CON: There’s Big Competition (In Some Cases)

I know I said it’s easy to rank for local keywords, but you also have to keep in mind that while the organic local search results are easy to rank for, the top positions are usually dominated by Google Business Pages and Paid Ads.

how does rank and rent work for seo

This is usually the case with hospitality (big-budget) terms such as restaurants, gyms, hotels, and such.

While you can still get an organic listing for these terms, it will obviously be harder.

Also; do NOT disregard the not-so-sexy keywords either.

Phrases such as:

  • “best childcare center”
  • “best elderly homes”
  • “best landscaping services”
  • “best bookshops”

would be easier to rank, would still have a high-enough search volume and can still be monetized.

CON: Almost Impossible To Track

One MAJOR issue you will face (if you decide NOT to charge a business by clicks) is the fact that you can not prove your marketing (your traffic) is working.

Let’s say a yoga studio pays you to be listed on your “best yoga studios” post.

Someone can come to your website, see your recommendations, make a mental note, close the page and then goes to that studio at a later date.

There really is no way of proving you have sent a specific business X people in a day, week or month.

This makes it very hard to prove that a business should continue working with you.

Just something to think about.

CON: It Takes Effort (A Lot Of Effort)

The reason I have never (yet) tried this is because it does take a lot of work to set up – so be ready for it.

Myself I prefer building up small affiliate marketing niche sites simply because they are much easier to run and monetize, but I have to admit;

The Rank & Rent method is a much more exciting business.

With time, you may get enough traffic to be able to make a decent income without continuing to put in work, but since you’ll be dealing with clients, you still have to keep that up and running.

Alternatively – as I suggested earlier – you can set up Google Adsense and let Google handle this headache for you.

The Perfect Example of A Rank & Rent Website

the TripAdvisor blog
The TripAdvisor blog

One last thing I want to leave you with is a perfect example of the rank and rent business model and that is;


TripAdvisor has now become a household name for travelers and locals to get information about specific cities.

It’s their ruthless dominance in the search engines that have made this business the giant it is today.

For every damn keyword, you type in, TripAdvisor shows up for at least one of the top 10 organic search results (sometimes more than one).

They then leverage this rank to “rent” that traffic to hotels, booking agents, experiences, excursions and so forth.

If you want to get into the Rank & Rent method, TripAdvisor is probably your biggest and baddest competitor but you can use it as the perfect case-study to follow on how to make money with this business model.

Tools & Resources To Help You Get Started

Before I let you go to start your own Rank & Rent million dollar empire (which, kidding aside – really is possible), let me just give you a few tips and resources on how to make this process a little bit easier by getting over the learning curve a little bit faster.

Here are two training courses which I suggest you look into (either/or):

The Wealthy Affiliate Training Course

Wealthy Affiliate Mockup 11

Wealthy Affiliate is the training course I always reference for those who want to understand how to go about getting traffic and making money online.

The main bulk of the information is based on building affiliate websites (which are similar to Rank and Rent websites), but they also have a “Classroom” for local marketing (local SEO).

You can access that class – for free – here.

Oh, and by the way; remember I said that I have another (better option) where you can buy a domain?

It’s Wealthy Affiliate.

They currently offer free hosting for up to 25 websites (yes free) to all members who go premium.

Affiliate SEO Mastery

Affiliate SEO Mastery review

Affiliate SEO Mastery is the SEO course that I have created and I created it to show people how to rank for long-tail / low -competition keywords in Google.

If you want to quickly understand what it takes to go from idea > to content > to page 1 > to traffic and ultimately > to profit;

You need to check out the 3-step method I have laid out in this course.

It’s the same roadmap that I always use to find and rank for keywords that drive high-converting traffic to all my web properties.

Your Action Plan (Recap)

Last but not least, let’s do a quick recap here as we’ve talked about a lot of things today.

First things first;

  • Decide you want to get into the Rank & Rent business model
  • Get a domain and hosting package
  • Get a WordPress website (one click install for the win)
  • Get a premium theme (unless you want to do it later)
  • Pick out your industries
  • Pick out your selection of keywords
  • Write the content (yourself)
  • Rank in Google for your desired keywords
  • Get in touch with companies or business
  • Rent out the traffic to companies that are willing to work with you.

Now go conquer.

affiliate guide

Final Words

Thank you very much for reading my guide on the Rank & Rent method.

This has been a long time coming, and this article was a tough one to write.

If you like it, please consider sharing it and as always, I’ll be making adjustments off your feedback so if you have any questions – be sure to leave them down below.

Talk soon.

Christian Lee.

how to use the rank and rent method money