Reselling Leads Using Traffic from Google Maps and Google Search
There are many different ways that someone might hear the term “rank and rent”. You may have spotted an ad or a post on a forum somewhere that showed you a simple online business model with tons of potential for profit. Or maybe you are familiar enough with digital marketing to know about the different forms of affiliate marketing. Regardless, it is definitely a lucrative opportunity to be able to provide a valuable service for another business that can provide you with passive income. Especially if that service can be done with relatively minimal effort.
Right away you may have noticed that this seems a bit like a money-making scheme. You wouldn’t be wrong to call the entire idea a sort of get-rich-quick strategy either. There are many different opinions about the entire strategy, depending on the way you choose to perform it, it can be a very profitable way to use your skills to help other businesses grow. If done correctly, it can help you establish important relationships with local businesses that can then help you with progressing your craft. However, the market has evolved over the years to bring in new challenges and hurdles to deal with in order to sustain this type of business model. Without an agile team that can pivot when new anti-spam measures are added, or when the algorithm updates just get tougher overall, you can one day see your entire network of business listings removed from the platform.
How it Works:
There is a large distinction between people that are trying to build a lead gen property that is for long-term use vs building a listing with the sole intention of reselling it to another person. Depending on the time, there are many ways to verify a non-compliant listing. If you choose to break these rules you are essentially risking that the listing may be deleted at some point in the future. Meaning that there is a lot of work that must be done to prevent the listing from getting removed from the platform due to spam. Those who choose a more compliant (looking) way of building these rank and rent properties are the ones that end up lasting over multiple years.
Since the postcard verification method is the best way to reinstate a listing that has been triggered, you essentially want to always have access to the address you are using for your local campaign. If not, you are building something that will only last for certain period of time. Google’s automated anti-spam measures can suspend your listing at any point, and even multiple times if it comes under scrutiny. This situation can lead you down a path of churning and burning through clients.
Nowadays, there are more video verification options being provided to business owners using the Google Maps mobile app. This brings in a new level of complexity if your lead gen listing suspends and you have set it as a physical location. If you have it set as a Service Area Listing, you may be asked to show items like trucks with your business info on them or official documents like licenses or state business registrations.
Oversaturation of Fake Business Listings
If you do your research, you will find that there have been people doing this for many years. Google’s devs are well aware of it happening on their Maps platform, so you will likely face issues with getting your listing verified to begin with. Consumers also become more aware of these false listings and how to spot them as others share info about it online.
Once you do get started, you will find that pretty much every city with a decent amount of population is already filled with fake listings. Check over all the busy city areas and you will see contractors listed where there are restaurants and bars. Marketers have used all kinds of tricks to get access to addresses that let them get access to sell leads in that particular city. This means that you would already be jumping into markets with some level of competition there. This is certainly the case with more lucrative service niches like legal services in large cities.
The main restrictions to the rank and rent business model would mainly fall under the address used for the GMB/GBP listing. If you are not able to postcard verify your listing even after it is already live, you are essentially placing yourself in a position where the listing will not last forever. Nowadays there are a large number of reasons for which your listing can either trigger reverification or a suspension. Either one will require a postcard verification to get back online. This will result in the following situation over the length of time: spammy listings will not be able to last long enough to outrank very many real businesses because theoretically there should be an event that happens to trigger the listing after some time goes by.
It is also worth noting that marketers are well aware of lead generation properties that can be reported. There are also agencies that monitor for these rank and rent listing (especially those that are keyterm-stuffed) and then proceed in trying to report it with multiple accounts.
If you aim to serve your clients for multiple years and not just a few months, you should seriously consider speaking with an attorney that is more knowledgeable with digital marketing services. You want to make sure that you are following all of your local laws and regulations. Whether that means avoiding misrepresenting yourself as a real business, or simply using the right verbiage on your site that is transparent about the referral service you are providing.
Is Rank and Rent SEO Legal? – Google Maps Lead Generation
If you are specifically looking to verify illegitimate businesses on the Google Maps platform for the act of reselling leads, it will depend on the process that you are using as well as what state you are in. The word illegitimate itself implies that you do not have this business entity registered with the State/IRS. Or that you do not hold the necessary licenses to operate said business which you may have registered. This is the first main distinction between a real business which uses a licensed partner, and a straight up scheme using SEO to mislead consumers.
If you are claiming to provide licensed professionals through your referral business, you will need to research what applicable laws you will need to follow regarding the sale of leads in that state. I would recommend that you speak to a local business attorney to make sure you have everything correct, all the way down to the other forms of marketing that you may be doing. You may want to partner with the licensed professional that is needed to provide the service in a legal and Google-compliant way.
If you are willing to go the full length to register your lead referral business in a legitimate manner, with the help of attorneys to understand regulations, you can certainly use your local SEO skills to create new business relationships in a way that provides you recurring income for years to come.
Rank and Rent Without A GBP Listing
For the easier rank and rent scenarios, you are typically dealing with service area businesses that work locally. Meaning that you would be missing out on most of the local leads with just the organic SERP listings. This essentially means that you can expect to be conducting Local SEO for this campaign. As opposed to Organic SEO.
If you were to perform a rank and rent strategy to sell leads to local businesses, and you didn’t want to use a GBP listing at all, you would essentially be doing the following:
Using the website you created for the business entity, create service pages for each city, state, county, or neighborhood that you would like to appear for on Google Search. Each service page that you create does have to display unique content, but not 100% for each page. Instead, aim for at least 50% of the page to be unique, as there should be plenty of distinctions to be made between what is ranking in the SERPs for each respective geo.
Checking on competitors for each geo and each service type may seem tedious, but it is the only true way to be competitive on Google Search across every page that you publish.
Conclusion – Is Rank & Rent Worth It?
I would say that most situations require a lead gen/rank and rent campaign to have a GBP at its main focus. This doesn’t mean that you won’t need to worry about the website, it just means that you are going to get significantly less quality leads if you are not able to rank a listing in the Map Pack for a wide radius on the main keyterms that consumers are searching for.
The GBP rank and rent business model can provide a lucrative opportunity for those willing to put in the effort and circumvent the platform’s rules. The model, however, is not without its challenges. Anti-spam measures and algorithm updates pose a risk of getting listings deleted from Google (and other) platforms. Additionally, the market is oversaturated with fake listings, making it difficult for new players to establish themselves. To succeed, businesses need to comply with regulations and verify their listings, which can be time-consuming and costly.
Although the model is not flawless, it can provide a valuable service to small businesses in any city you choose. For some, that may be enough to earn recognition as well as experience in the SEO field.
In conclusion, I would not recommend someone starts up a new lead gen business that is based on a GBP listing on the Maps platform. It is far too risky and too cumbersome to deal with the suspensions of each listing. If you manage a lot of GBPs at once, this would only make it more catastrophic if they were all to come down at once. However, if you are creating a lead generation property that is based on a website with quality content and a true purpose to deliver value to a niche, then that is a completely different story. Those looking to resell leads online should explore affiliate marketing opportunities within niches that they have true interests in. Having more reasons to stay motivated on the work other than money means that you often end up putting in the effort to make the content published truly competitive.