Let me introduce you to the online business model which changed my life.
The primary method I follow to make a living online is ranking websites for relevant industries then renting them out to businesses in that space.
I’m going to reveal a number of my own websites which I rank in Google and then set-up to loan to other companies.
This tactic of ranking websites in various industries – with the plan to give the traffic you receive to other businesses – is commonly referred to as Rank and Rent.
I’ve been utilising this tactic since 2012 and despite how many people were telling me it was saturated back then (don’t people say that about everything?) it still works very well today in 2017.
Although I have been running this side of my business for a number of years, I’ll still set-up sites that don’t rank or if they do, don’t generate traffic that other companies will pay me for.
As you’ll soon find out, to me this method is very much a numbers game.
My rank and rent philosophy has always been to build a lot of sites and just “see what works”.
The Sites I’m Going to Reveal Are ‘Stage One’
They receive very little traffic, but I’ve put very little work into them.
By ‘very little’ I literally mean I’ve spent no more than one hour on each website. That includes buying a domain, installing a CMS (usually WordPress) and choosing a site theme.
If you’re to believe ‘numbers game’ theory is correct, then the more sites you build and angles you try, the more chance you have of success.
The end result is that I build one or two page websites, with little to no backlinks, and receive thousands of visitors to them each month from Google.
If there’s a guaranteed formula that every site you build is going to rank quickly without links then I haven’t found it. Without having unprecedented access to Google’s algorithm, I also don’t think it exists.
Since I’m not building the sites just for fun and actually want to do something with the traffic I receive, I target industries where a large number of businesses operate.
I primarily try to rank for service and location-focused search queries.
Stage one is simply a testing stage. It’s basically my attempt to see how little work I can do to see some promising results in Google.
If a site is in the first five pages of Google with minimal effort I will start to give it more attention in the form of adding content and building more links.
I never build out a website or focus on link building until a site already shows signs of promise.
As I said in a recent live chat, I set-up “bunches” of sites at a time, and then wait.
There is no point spending weeks or months making one of these websites ‘perfect’ if you’ve picked an industry that is simply too difficult to rank in.
It’s certainly possible to do competitive research and to analyse search results to get an idea of ranking difficulty beforehand, but building these sites is so quick and painless (and something you can outsource) that I prefer to just test the waters myself.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m still constantly surprised by what ranks and what doesn’t.
Sites that are in competitive niches which by every SEO measure shouldn’t be in the top 100 results can make it to the top three, while search results that appear to have awful results (forum threads, blogspot results, no brands) seem impenetrable at times.
It’s a strange game, but one I enjoy.
As a final note, there’s a particular reason that I have chosen these specific sites to feature which will be revealed at the end of the post.
Ranking for a 9,900 Volume Search Query with 2 Backlinks.
I like to test everything when it comes to Google rankings.
Even if the idea is a little strange and probably doesn’t have much chance of working, curiosity often gets the best of me.
Since R&R sites are so cheap and quick to put together, testing ideas doesn’t cut into your bank balance or your free time.
For our first example I picked up an exact match domain (with a .co.uk extension) for the keyphrase ‘shofer driver’.
Shofer is a popular misspelling of the word Chauffeur. Hiring a chauffeur is a bit like having your own private taxi driver.
The misspelling is so popular that it actually gets searched for thousands of times per month, so for this test I wanted to know whether Google will only highlight results with the correct spelling (which is common), or allow my site to rank as well.
To avoid anyone thinking I’m just sharing my sites to give myself some sweet Gaps.com backlinks, there won’t be any clickable links here.
Instead, here’s a screenshot showing what I mean by doing “as little as possible.”
There is nothing missing from this picture. That’s literally the entire website.
I had a little fun with this one, though it’s ironic that I made a misspelling in my paragraph above. Too not to, Glen.
The site is typically found on the bottom of page two in the UK.
It’s a few months old, has nothing other than auto-generated backlinks (I’ll get to this soon) and shows promising signs that it could get to the first page of Google with a little bit of attention.
This is exactly the kind of result where I would now go and add more pages of content and build a few more backlinks to see if I can start receiving some targeted traffic.
1,000 – 301,000 Monthly Searches. 2 Backlinks. First page of Google
I’ve had a lot of fun with ‘near me’ search terms since I wrote about them a few months ago on ViperChill.
I think the search volume is a little exaggerated here but the Google Keyword Planner says my chosen term (‘apartments near me’) is very popular in the United States with over 300,000 searches per month.
I decided to again target the UK for this one – where there are around 1,000 searches per month – so went with a .co.uk domain.
The results were quite promising.
While the query is infinitely more popular in the US than it is in the UK, it looks like it’s catching on around the world.
Again my next step would be to add more content to the website, build some more links and see if I can move up the search results.
An obvious suitor to rent out the site would be the likes of RightMove and LastMinute who are currently ranking a few places higher than me but I rarely have any luck contacting big brands for this type of opportunity.
I would instead likely target someone on AirBnB with multiple properties or create pages for different areas of the UK and rent out pages to different individuals.
Since I’m not doing the links thing again, here’s what the site looks like.
I’m using a default WordPress theme and all I added was a contact page and around 1,000 words of content. That content, which is just about readable, cost a whopping $6 on iWriter.com.
1 Page. 2 Backlinks. 100+ Daily Visitors
When sites start getting traffic, no matter how small, I decide to take them a bit more seriously and start prospecting businesses who may want to rent them out.
Continuing with the ‘near me’ focused sites (you’ll understand why at the end of the post), I built another one targeting the antiques industry.
Once again I’m sharing a one page website (plus a contact page) with the lowest-quality backlinks you can find.
The site is ranking purely because of my domain name and a little bit of aging.
On Sunday’s, when traffic peaks, the site is reaching around 150 visitors per day.
I haven’t done anything to account for the traffic growth. Those numbers have increased on their own.
I’m a little sorry to say that people genuinely do use this site to try and find antique stores they can visit in person.
Not only is the average time on site a minute long (when it should only be a few seconds since I provide zero value) but the search box on the website has been used more than 7,000 times in the past 90 days.
Below you can see the searches which led to people finding the site (left) and the searches people make on the site (right).
You can click here to see a larger version.
It’s at the point now with less than an hour of work – and a bit of patience – that a real business could benefit from the traffic.
I could either connect with someone who owns a chain of antique stores or I could create pages for each state in the US and offer people the chance to feature their business there.
The site, Antiquenearme.com, is typically ranking second for its main keyphrase ‘Antique stores near me’.
I don’t think traffic will get too much higher than 200 visitors per day but with how many people are clicking on that magnifying glass to search, they display a lot of intent.
I don’t feel good about sites that get traffic and offer no value so the next step would be to move on to stage two and actually provide value to users.
1 Page. 2 Backlinks. Page 2 of Google.
I recently had a suit made for a friend’s wedding and got to thinking how much a tailored suit costs for the average person. The industry fits the $1,000 rule that I talk about so I decided to set something up.
With no work at all – and just thanks to my domain name – I’m ranking at the top of page 2 on Google.
I’m not tracking analytics on this website so I have no idea if it’s getting traffic. I just checked its rankings for this blog post and saw it on page two.
The next step if I was going to take this further would be to add some analytics code. If it’s receiving a few visitors per day then I would put in a bit more effort in terms of adding content and link building to get it on the first page.
In cases like this it’s a good sign to see ads and map results on page one. It means there are a lot of businesses I could rent the site out to.
#37 in Google + 5 Daily Visitors = Huge Potential
Five visitors per day doesn’t sound like much, but when that’s purely from search traffic and you’re ranking 37th, you’ve likely stumbled on a great niche to target with the Rank and Rent method.
That’s the situation I find myself in with Detailing Near Me.com, which I’m attempting to rank for automotive care-related terms.
The numbers are far from impressive, but here’s a little screenshot anyway.
I created the site at the start of September and then didn’t do a thing with it after that.
You can see from the “O” in Goooogle that I’m on page 4 for this term, though it may fluctuate for you.
I actually like this niche as I’m personally very into cars and have spent quite a bit of time on detailing forums.
If there’s anything I know about this industry it’s that there’s an incredible number businesses that offer this service which could benefit from targeted traffic from Google.
First Page Rankings. 10th Page Traffic.
As you can probably tell right now, there isn’t really much method to my madness. I test a lot of different industries to see how Google react to the sites I build.
Sometimes I will even ignore the data in the Google Keyword Planner – which may show no search volume at all – and see if their numbers are incorrectly low.
Another example of just ‘going for it’ is the site Datingservicesnearme.com, which is as beautiful as my previous examples.
It ranks on the first page of Google for its target keyword but as Google Keyword Planner predicted, the search volume is simply too low.
Although there’s a lot of money to be made in matchmaking services, nobody is going to rent this out if it’s simply not receiving traffic.
Speaking of this failure…
The Important Numbers (And Why I Shared These Specific Sites)
You may have come to an obvious conclusion from these examples that all you need is an exact-match domain.
Even though my sites are ranking because of that, it’s not entirely true.
I have plenty of exact-match domains that simply never show up in search results.
I would prefer your obvious conclusion from this post to be: This is a numbers game. The more sites you have in play, the more chance you have of succeeding.
I have built countless sites following the exact same strategy as the ones above which received no benefit from their exact-match status.
For example, some other websites I’ve set-up include:
They don’t even rank for the words in their domain name. You can see now why I call this a numbers game.
The reason to play this game is of course to make money, so let’s talk about the numbers.
A R&R site that I set-up typically costs between $14-17. That’s $9 for a domain name and $5-8 for content.
They’ll cost a little more if you want to pay someone else to set them up (this literally takes 5 minutes once you have content) or they can be cheaper if you want to write the content yourself.
If you follow my training you’ll know the aim is to rent out your websites for $500 – $1,000/m.
To breakeven at these costs, if I just rent out one website for one month, I can build the equivalent of 33 rank and rent sites.
If I rent out just one website for $500 for three months then I can build 90 websites that don’t make money and still turn a small profit.
That’s ignoring that you’re probably doing something terribly wrong if you can only rank 1 in 100 sites and ignoring the possibility of selling them off for $50 – $100 each once they start to show some promise (if that’s what you would prefer).
Some of these “near me” sites sell for a decent amount of money once they’re ranking well in Google.
The reason I highlighted this specific group of sites today, out of the countless that I’ve built, is because they were all built in the same “batch”.
They’re all also hosted on the same server.
Let me put that in green for those skimming the article.
Every single example in this post was hosted on the same Namecheap server. That’s $2/m to host all .com sites and $2/m to host all .co.uk sites.
Not just the successful stage one sites, but also the failures I mentioned in the bullet points.
They were all set-up in the same time period (you can check when the domains were registered) and took no more than a couple of days of my time to put together.
In 2014 and 2015 I would put together these batches on an almost weekly basis. I’ve eased off on it now as I focus more on the agency side of things, but I hope it shows how little work is needed to start seeing some real potential.
The only thing that takes time in this process is content, but you can order all of that at once.
The Links These Sites Have
I’m the first to admit there’s nothing impressive about those sites I’ve just showed you.
You aren’t going to see them featured on TechCrunch nor will they be able to make your family understand why you’re spending so much time on your computer.
But they can make you a lot of money.
Just like the lack of glamour from my site designs, there’s nothing special about the backlinks either.
I know the more curious of you are going to delve into the backlinks for the sites so let me save you from some misery.
The site in this batch doing the best is Antiquenearme with around 120 visitors per day, so let’s look into that one.
Here’s the Ahrefs screenshot showing how many links are pointing to the domain.
And here’s an example of a link the site has.
A directory site, of which there are thousands, where anyone can sign up and submit their own links without any editorial oversight.
The link is no-followed, which means it shouldn’t really pass any weight or help my rankings either.
The point I’m making is that the links you build at this stage don’t matter. I’m sure the site would be ranking exactly the same without them.
You can go and create a page on any free website builder – literally Google “Free website builder” – and put your link inside some spun content and it will have the same impact.
I’ve tried paid link services. Automated tools. I’ve ‘pinged’ my site to RSS feeds that search engines pick up. There’s no secret link source.
The key things that matter – at least for my strategy – are:
- My domain is exact-match, or as close to exact-match as possible
- I remove all default pages and posts from WordPress (this is definitely a footprint Google pick up on)
- I need to be linked to from somewhere on the internet so my site is crawled
- I’m indifferent to the success of the site, so forget about it for weeks and check back later
I put a bit of weight on the exact-match domain side of things, so let’s quickly cover that.
For all search results around the world, we can see that exact-match domains only have around 3% marketshare in search results.
This means that if you were to search for ten different things in Google – resulting in 100 links – three of the results would be sites with exact-match domains.
That’s for the general web. For R&R, I don’t know have any specific numbers, but they’re undoubtedly a lot higher.
At over 3,000 words I still feel like I’ve only hit the surface of this topic, but I have gone into it in a lot more detail in my free training.
- Where I get all content for my sites
- The $1,000 rule when finding niches to target
- Examples of rank and rent websites actually sending leads to real businesses
- The tools to use for email outreach
And so much more.
The video will be taken down in the next 7 days so please check it out while you can.
Credits to Glen Allsopp and his extraordinary content at Gaps.