How To Start a Local Lead Generation Business — Rank & Rent for Profit

A magnet attracting coins to symbolise How To Start a Local Lead Generation Business

This morning alone I’ve had four prospects calling and emailing as they desperately need a structural engineer for various reasons. They’re calling me because I worked out how to start a local lead generation business that makes me money, pretty much on autopilot at this stage.

I’ll describe this in a lot more detail in this article within which we’ve also broken the path down into 10 simple steps that anyone can follow, so you too can start your own “rank and rent” website.

We’ll be diving deeper into each of these steps so that you know exactly how to start a local lead generation business :

Whether you want to start an online business, earn more money, or work from the comfort of your own home, a local lead generation business can help you reap all three rewards (and more).

Read on to learn how to start a local lead generation business that makes bank selling nothing but leads to business owners.

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How To Start a Local Lead Generation Business… Say What?

Now, like this guy below, you’re probably thinking, “How to start a local lead generation business… yes… makes perfect sense… wait, what?”

Exactly, what is rank and rent lead generation?

ow to start a local lead generation business.... man looking confused

It’s really simple.

    • You generate leads (i.e. prospects) through a website.
    • Then, sell these leads to a local business.

That’s it.

Lead generation creates a win-win scenario for both you and your client: they win more customers — you make more money.

Think of your website as the “bridge” that connects potential buyers to a local service. 

This bridge is what we refer to as a “rank and rent” website. 

You rank the website on Google, then rent it to other local clients.

Make money selling leads. Simple.

Rank refers to the position of a website or page in a list of search engine results for a specific keyword. A higher ranking is the goal of a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy; the higher a page ranks for a particular keyword, the more likely users are to visit the site.

www.webopedia.com

Local SEO marketers (a.k.a. “an SEO”) love this model as it offers them the control to help a business grow an online presence, or if something goes wrong, like the business stops paying their SEO bill, they can take it all away in a flash.

In the past, a local business would pay an SEO to optimize their website, with the hopes that it would show up on Google a few months down the line. They were betting on future results.

Rank and rent websites remove wishful thinking for the business that relies on leads (aka new customers) because you’re already generating leads from the rank and rent website that you’ve grown. 

All a business has to do is pay for the leads!

I like to think of rank and rent websites as running a tap. You can turn off the stream of leads whenever a client decides to stop paying for them. Then replace them with another lead-hungry client.

Why Local Businesses Love Rank and Rent Websites

A rank and rent website is like takeaway pizzas.

To sum up the answer in one word…TIME.

Let’s illustrate my point with an example.

Imagine if, after a long day of work, you were craving some pizza. But instead of ordering from a restaurant, you had to make it from scratch.

Can you picture how painfully time-consuming this would be? Especially if you’ve never made a pizza in your life.

Now, compare this to someone delivering a box of pizza right to your doorstep. 

Hot, fresh, and ready to eat!!

THIS is the type of service local clients enjoy when they rent your website. 

You deliver the leads; they simply “open the door” and collect them. 

In regard to rank and websites, this is usually someone’s telephone number. This number is then referred to your client, who closes the sale over the phone.

Local businesses use rank and rent websites to get telephonic leads

Most businesses don’t have time to run around chasing leads. And they sure don’t have time to build a lead-generating website and all the technicalities that come with it. 

What’s more, some local businesses (especially those with no online presence), just aren’t aware of how many lead-grabbing opportunities are out there.

So when they find a system like yours, they’re willing to pay good money for it. It removes all the heavy lifting while still allowing them to reap the same rewards.

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Best of all, you don’t need experience with websites or SEO to create a successful lead generation company. Anyone with a WiFi and laptop can get started as soon as today.

Before I started my local lead generation business for people who need a structural engineer, I thought of all sorts of limiting beliefs:

    • Surely people who need a structural engineer just ask around their friends.
    • Surely there aren’t that many people in this city that need a structural engineer.
    • Surely there aren’t enough engineers in this city that need more work.
    • Surely engineers wouldn’t be interested in getting leads from some website.

How wrong I was.

Hot Tip: Try as hard as you can to NOT make assumptions about people, places, industries, processes, or anything else that could prevent you from starting a successful online business.

Step-by-Step: How To Start a Local Lead Generation Business

Brightly coloured steps

Just follow the easy steps below and learn how to start a local lead generation business. 

#1 Choose a Niche

Helium balloons

Party balloons, event photography, junk removal, interstate removalists…

All of these niches rely on leads to stay in business — and there are hundreds more to choose from!

Your first job is to pick one niche to build your rank and rent website around. Here are some examples:

    • Dentists
    • Plumbers
    • Chiropractors
    • Electricians
    • Handymen
    • Furniture assembly
    • House painting
    • Dog walkers
    • Appliance repair
    • Landscapers
    • Roof installation
    • Carpet cleaning

Notice how these are all service-based! That’s what we’re looking for.

When researching niches, choosing a niche with good search volume (aka there are many people searching on Google for this) is key. Why? Because it indicates that people are willingly seeking out this service.

You can use Google keyword planner to find search volumes. Check out this blog by Backlinko for more information.

But, demanding customers isn’t the only element to a great niche. It also needs to have low competition; low enough for your website to rank high in Google (more on that later).

In addition to these criteria, here are some extra tips to find a profitable niche.

    • Opt for high-ticket services that require leads to be closed over the phone.

    • Narrow your niche down to a sub-niche. This helps to filter out even more competition, so you have a higher chance of ranking your website. Balance this with demand (keyword research). You don’t want to niche yourself out of the demand.

    • Consider the industry – Is it growing/shrinking/plateaued? How busy are people in the industry? Is there a shortage or abundance of people in the industry? Is it a new industry that hasn’t proven itself yet, or well established?

    • Follow your experience if it makes sense. What I mean by this is, if you have experience in a certain niche, this can prove quite useful further down the track. But don’t default to this niche; ensure it stacks up in your due diligence. 

A large part of your success will depend on the niche you choose at the start, so don’t rush this step, it’s a crucial one on how to start a local lead generation business. Take the time to thoroughly research a niche before moving on to step two.

Hot Tip: Write out a list of 3-5 niches that you’re considering and put them head to head in terms of your various due diligence items.

#2 Choose a Location

Google map of WashingtonAs a local lead generation business, your niche also needs a specific location.

City size is a biggy, here. You’ll want to find a city with a population greater than 100,000 people to ensure there’s enough supply of leads, and also multiple businesses providing the service. 

Some say that there should be an upper bound population of say 250,000 or 500,000 people so that ranking your website is not too competitive. We actually disagree with this. 

Our goal is to rank high on Google for this particular location, so a medium-sized city may be easier to rank in, but a more important factor is what the competitive landscape looks like. 

If the top resulting websites for a given niche and location (e.g. web design in Dallas) look like the one below, it’s unlikely that your competitors are spending anything on SEO, so you’ll be able to out-rank them no sweat. 

Example of an old rank and rent website

Hot Tip: My structural engineering website ranks for a range of keywords in a city of over 4 million people, resulting in over 50 leads per month at this stage, and growing!

#3 Choose a Domain Name

Choose a domain nameThe third step in working out how to start a lead generation business is choosing a domain name.

Now you’ve chosen your niche and location, the next step is choosing a domain for your website.

Now, there are two types of domains you’ll want to consider. An exact match domain and a partially matched domain.

An exact match domain would look something like “location + service.” For example:

There still lies a debate as to whether Google still rewards exact match domains with a higher ranking. However, using this domain can still establish a sense of authority in the eyes of prospective customers.

However, if you’re looking to expand your business in the long run, exact match domains limit you from targeting other locations. Here’s where partially matched domains (PMD) come in handy.

Hot Tip: I used the word ‘structural’ in my domain name, but I didn’t use a location, knowing that once I had proven the concept, my next step would be to expand it to a national level. Boy oh boy do I love the scalability of an internet-based business!

This is when your domain includes part of the main keyword you want to rank for. For example, if your main keyword is “Texas plumbers,” your PMD could be “mypersonalplumber.com.” 

Don’t get too bogged down with this step. Yes, it’s important, but you don’t want to waste time trying to find the “perfect” name. Find one that fits, then move on to the next step.

#4 Set Up Your Content Management System (CMS)

WordPress is a great content management system for local lead generationBy content management system, I simply mean creating your rank and rent website.

And what easier way to do this than with WordPress. 

WordPress powers more than 40% of the web, and for good reason. It’s free, easy to use, and has a staggering amount of beautiful website themes to choose from. 

Of course, it’s not the only option out there. You may prefer to use other web-building alternatives such as Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly.

The web builder you choose doesn’t matter. What really matters is how comfortable you feel while using it. So, choose the one you work with best.

We won’t delve into how to set up a WordPress website in the middle of this article. But, you can already find a staggering amount of helpful videos on YouTube, like this one:

If you already know how to create a website, great. Now all you need to focus on is optimizing your website so that it can rank. 

This starts with diving deeper into one of the most important skills as an internet marketer (which is effectively what you are), and that’s keyword research.

#5 Keyword Research

Keyword researchTo attract prospects to our website, we need to carry out some keyword research.

Keywords are basically the words a user will type into Google when looking for something.

It can be one word like “Dentist,” or a set of words like “Dentists in Mumbai.”

But don’t limit yourself there. You’ll be wanting to find all the related keywords that people are punching into Google every day such as, “teeth whitening Mumbai,” “dentist for crowns” or “dental surgeon” for example. 

And by the way, there will be way more! 

Keyword research highlights what people are and aren’t looking for, and is the greatest guide as to what content you need to be putting on your website. 

It will help you structure your content in a way that attracts more leads.

Sounds pretty important right? It is!

To complete this task, you’ll need a keyword research tool such as the previously suggested Google Keyword Planner. Alternatively, some well-known keyword research tools such as Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMRush are all fantastic options. 

During your research, you’ll want to find keywords with:

    • Lower competition (not many people are trying to rank for this keyword)
    • Lower difficulty (it’s quite easy to rank for this keyword)
    • Acceptable search volume (a fairly large number of people are searching for this keyword)

I used the rather vague terms “lower” and “acceptable” on purpose because the numbers vary quite a bit from niche to niche. However, there’s an endless supply of blogs or YouTube videos to help you find a whole bunch of keywords that will help drive traffic to your website.

Also, look out for any variations of your main keyword. This signals to Google that your content is genuine, and not just another site trying to cheat the algorithm.

Hot Tip: Check out the following snippet from one of the pages from my lead generation website. This is a list of keywords, and each one is a button. If a user clicks one of the buttons they’ll find a short and sharp article based on that keyword and some related keywords. This helps boost us up the rankings in the eyes of Google.

Lead generation keywords

Once you’ve farmed around for a broad selection of keywords, we’ll move on to creating content for your site.

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#6 Write Content for Your Rank and Rent Website

Write content for your rank and rent websiteIf you want to start a rank and rent website, you need to have content that will grab potential customers. The goal of your content is to help prospective leads learn more about your services. It also goes a long way in building trust before they take that next step — giving us their contact information.

This means that every article needs to provide real value. In other words, it should focus on answering the readers’ queries or concerns, while also using the keywords you’re trying to rank for.

For example, imagine your niche website is about wedding event planning. 

During keyword research, one keyword you found was, “Questions to ask your wedding rental party company.”

Well, you can create an article titled “7 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Rental Party Company,” which lists a number of questions that couples should ask before signing a contract.

At the end of the article, you can even go a step further by mentioning what services you offer. Then, include a link to your contact form or somewhere they can contact you. 

Including an “About” and “Contact” page, you want to end up with at least 7-10 pages on your website. Each page should be optimized for specific keywords you picked in the previous step.

Hot Tip: If writing feels like a chore, you can always outsource it. Sites like Upwork are flooded with A-star writers already on the lookout for more jobs. Hiring a writer can save you time that you can now pour into building more rank and rent websites. Woo hoo.

Example of a local lead generation website

However, a great article isn’t enough to impress Google. It also needs to be optimized for the search engines with what we touched on before, Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Like the site above, there needs to be content that is interesting for humans and Google. 

SEO covers three areas: on-page, off-page, and technical SEO. When it comes to writing articles, it’s on-page SEO you want to focus on.

On-page SEO is when you improve your site’s visibility through certain practices that allow Google to rank your content higher in the search engine. Some practices include using keywords in your page title and the body text, optimizing the meta description, and adding keywords to your image alt text.

I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of on-page SEO. However, here are some practical tips to use in your articles:

    • Create lengthier content (1,500+ words or less if your competitors’ pages are all much shorter)
    • Wrap headings in H1, H2, H3, etc. heading tags
    • Include videos and images where possible
    • Use your keyword in the first 100 words of the article and the last 100 words of your article

To really master SEO, you can start by finding some in-depth blogs, but you may need to invest in a course or a mentor.

#7 Set Up Google My Business 

When it comes to Google, there’s an even better place for your site to show up in the search engines: Google’s map pack.

Google My Business - the map pack on Google

This is where you want your website to be. One of the top three Google map listings.

Why? Because it gives you an advantage over local competitors. 

The map pack sits at the top of the search results, even above the #1 ranking organic result. This puts your website in a position to earn more clicks, traffic, and calls.

Not only that, but a Google map listing can also help you gain more reviews. More than 93% of customers look at online reviews before making a buying decision. So, even having a few can help to establish trust with prospects BEFORE they click on your website.

However, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll claim a spot in the map pack. This is especially if you’re competing with other reputable websites that share a good amount of reviews. A lot of the time, though, local businesses aren’t even taking advantage of this. It’s low-hanging fruit for lead gen websites.

Head over to this page to set up your Google My Business listing, and follow the steps outlined. Or if you’d like some extra guidance, Wes lays out all the steps and how to maximize your results in this short video:

Keep in mind that Google requires your business to have an authorized address or a telephone number.

Combined with your keywords, a map listing may significantly raise your rankings on Google. Take advantage of this.

#8 Build Backlinks

A handshake to represent a back linkAs the name suggests, a backlink is when another website links back to yours.

Google loves backlinks because it suggests two things about your content/service: 

    1. Your content/service is share-worthy from some people
    2. Your content/service is likely to help other people as well!

It’s why pages with high-quality backlinks enjoy more organic traffic. Essentially, you’ve “upped your cred” in the eyes of Google. When Google sees that other high authority sites are linking back to your content, they’ll view your rank and rent website as valuable and trustworthy.

The result? A higher ranking in the search results.

I briefly mentioned this in the last step, but backlinks are a form of off-page SEO. These are practices outside of your website that help you rank higher in the search engines.

Earning a backlink first starts with creating content that people actually want to share. No one wants to link (or be linked to) a site that lacks any real value. There would be no reason to.

Assuming your content is fantastic, here are a few small but powerful steps you can take to build more backlinks.

Register with local directories

Enrol your business in a local directory

Some prospects refer to business directories to find local services. By adding your own placement here, you’re putting yourself “on the map” by establishing your service in the area. 

First, register with a big directory such as Yellow Pages. Then, if possible, expand to any local directories around your location. Simply Google “Your location + business directory” and you’ll see which ones show up. You may even discover more opportunities by Googling “Niche + business directory”

Write guest posts

You can also write articles for other related blogs. In return, they will offer you a link back to your website.

For example, if your niche was about house painting, you could create an article titled “The Best Paint Colours for Guest Rooms” (bonus points if this is a keyword!). Then, offer this article as a guest post on other reputable blogs. 

Editors love to share fresh, new ideas on their websites. Not every site is open to guest posts, of course, but you’ll find a great majority are happy to receive an extra post, provided it offers real value.

Reach out to 5-10 websites and pitch your guest post. The key is to not come across as too desperate or needy. Ramit Sethi has a proven email pitch to win over blogs with your guest post.

#9 Track Your Results

Track the results of your websiteResults are king. It’s what makes this entire business.

Clients aren’t paying for future results. They aren’t interested in what you could give them.

They’re only interested in what you can give them now: leads!

And that’s why a few “sample” leads are useful to collect at the start. It’s a way to build trust before doing business.

Prospects won’t hem and haw over tangible results. Because without anything tangible to present to local businesses, you’ll struggle to attract long-term clients.

There are four areas you want to track on your website. Make sure to have all of these in place before you seek out any potential clients.

    • Email account to answer any customer inquiries 
    • Google Analytics to gain insight into traffic, leads, and your top-performing pages
    • Keyword tool to measure your sites keyword rankings
    • Call tracking software to track calls and leads

The last tool is crucial, and this is where it gets really interesting. 

When someone calls a phone number that you have listed on your site, the call is forwarded straight to your client, however, it is recorded from start to finish and the recording can be emailed to you straight after. 

The recordings from call tracking software offer important data and insights, including what the caller needed, their phone number, call duration, call location, and more. 

These numbers can also be tagged with a nickname and other labels to help you navigate specific leads. Using this data, you can confidently pitch your website to local clients.

Also, depending on your local law, you might need a little recorded message played at the start saying something like: “This call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes” or similar. 

Software such as Callrail may be a good place to start. I love how newbie-friendly the software is, while also providing incredible insights on your leads. Just take a look at the hundreds of positive reviews from other fellow marketers.

Hot Tip: Automation baby! We outsource the call monitoring to a cheap freelance virtual assistant who listens to the recorded calls and sends us the information we need each month to send invoices to our clients (the engineers).

#10 Rent Your “Rank and Rent” Website for Profit

If you’ve followed all of the steps above, your website should be ranking high on Google.

The last step now involves working out how to sell leads to local businesses. Here’s how that looks. 

On the homepage of your website, your client’s phone number or a contact form will be displayed. 

Example of a local lead generation website

When a prospect rings this number, the call is redirected (through your call tracking software) to your client. From here, it’s up to your client to close the deal. 

You’re basically the middleman in all of this. But even as a middleman, you still remain in the driver’s seat. It’s YOUR asset that you allow others to rent.

ISN’T THIS AWESOME!

When it comes to renting your website, there are two main ways to charge clients.

A monthly retainer

Every month, a client will pay you a fixed sum — let’s say $2,000 a month — to rent out your website. Any leads you generate in that month will be passed onto your client. Beginners tend to use this model as it’s less hassle for both you and the client.

Charge per lead

Another way is to charge per lead. This when you sell qualified leads to a client; leads with a high chance of converting to customers. 

This will, however, require you to closely monitor the quality of leads you receive. This can be done using the call tracking software I mentioned above.

Keep in mind that since business owners are paying for a single lead, they expect each one to be high quality. Spammy or unqualified leads only result in wasted money for the client.

The more clients you gain, the more results you can pitch to other local businesses. This can create a snowball effect where onboarding a new client becomes easier than the last.

Plus remember, word of mouth goes a long way. If you’ve brought leads to one client, he or she will most likely tell colleagues in the area.

Hot Tip: For our single structural lead gen site, we have a handful of clients (engineers). Some are paying monthly and some are paying per lead. We can spread our risk (of losing a client) amongst several clients because we’re in a city that has 18 “regions”. Therefore we’ve set up our website so that it has 18 pages, 1 for each “region.” When someone needing an engineer finds our website, the flow goes something like:

    1. Lead (person) finds the website
    2. Lead is directed to a region page where there’s a phone number unique to that region or a form to fill out
    3. Lead makes contact with the engineer who services that specific region, via our comms system
    4. We invoice the engineer each month

Ready to Rank and Rent?

For rent sign

Voila, now you know how to start a lead generation company so you can work from home or work remotely and enjoy the  fruits of your labor, which come in on autopilot!

Getting your online business to that point where it starts to make passive income is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. Trust me on that.

Building a successful rank and rent website doesn’t happen overnight. But it also doesn’t take forever, especially when following the right steps.

That first starts with choosing a profitable niche and location. Then, creating a highly optimized website using the key SEO strategies outlined in this article.

But remember, your results are everything, and go a long way in helping you attract clients. 

So make it a priority to track data on your website, keywords, and leads that you can show to prospective clients.

Thank you for reading this article on how to start a local lead generation business. If you enjoyed it, please don’t forget to share it with anyone who you think will find it helpful.

P.s. If after all that you’re not convinced that rank and rent is an awesome home business idea, some other options include starting an ecommerce business or a podcast. Now we’re really thinking outside the box!

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