HOW WE MAKE MONEY ONLINE
The 3 businesses are:
We’re talking Lead Generation & Local SEO in this post.
LEAD GENERATION & LOCAL SEO
A little primer before I go any further for those of you that may not have heard of the term “SEO” before.
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimisation” and it basically refers to the process of ranking a website higher in the likes of Google, Bing and Yahoo.
SEO is a very deep and constantly evolving subject and something that one person will never 100% master. That’s unless Google decide to never change and update their algorithm.
When we first started out building our freelance content writing agency in 2013, we knew nothing about the SEO world.
A few months later, we slowly pieced together that our content agency was a rung on the SEO ladder, so to speak.
Setting a Goal
It was our long term goal to end up being a digital marketing/SEO agency rather than just a content business.
Better money, more scalability and it offered the holy grail of potential passive income streams down the road! (More about this later).
Again, as usual, I’m going to save you the boredom and not go into the technicals about how SEO works, but instead, I’ll detail the two forms of SEO that we decided to tackle.
- Local Client SEO
- Rank and Rent SEO (our favourite)
So the first one is local client SEO and this is where we work on a local businesses website to improve their rankings in the search results. (Google, for example)
Getting To Grips With Our New “Jobs” in Phuket Thailand in July 2013
Local Client SEO
Local SEO is different than national or even global SEO in that you’re only competing with other businesses in your location.
For example, a dentist in Dublin is only going to be competing with other dentists in that city as opposed to dentists all around Ireland.
They might only want to compete with other dentists in their neighbourhood instead of the whole city.
And this makes sense if you think about it because if you’re in Dublin and you’re looking for a dentist online to get some treatment work done, you’re not going to be worried about who’s ranking at the top of Google in Cork, Galway or any other Irish city for that matter.
As you can see, this means that there’s much less competition at a local level than a national/Global level.
Therefore, moving a local businesses website up higher in the search results is in theory, a lot easier….and quicker.
But that’s not always the case, but I’m just giving you some context as to this area of SEO that we deal with.
We’re contracted on monthly retainers with a few businesses in this regard, both in Ireland, UK and in the USA. (the majority of them are US based).
The goal of any SEO campaign is to either get the client more calls or sell more products/services that they offer.
That’s the bottom line.
The business pays us a pre-arranged monthly retainer and we go about making sure that they’re getting a solid ROI on their monthly investment with us.
Like any business of this nature, if they’re not happy with our service or if we don’t want to work with them anymore (for whatever reason) then both parties are free to terminate the agreement and go their separate ways.
Rank & Rent SEO
The second route, and our favourite is the Rank and Rent SEO model.
Rank and Rent at its core is where you rank and website to the top of Google and then rent it out to a business.
This is where we go and research a niche in a particular city or neighbourhood to decide if we think we can rank a website from scratch there.
If we think we can, then we go and basically form what’s called a Rank and Rent business website.
How does this work?
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
Say we do some research into carpet cleaning companies in a city like Kent in the UK.
We check out the competition and determine that they’re not that strong with their own SEO power. (You’d be surprised at just how bad some businesses SEO power actually is).
Once we decide that we’re going to try and enter the market in that niche, we start off by buying a domain with a suitable name, let’s go with http://www.kentcarpetcleanerspros.com/ for the sake of this example.
We kit out the website like a real carpet cleaning site, with good content etc and get the business registered with Google My Business (GMB), so that it can show up at the top of the map pack.
Once the website is built, we start powering it up in many different ways so that it starts to rank for loads of keywords that potential customers might be searching for in Google.
If you were living in Kent and you were looking for someone or some company to clean your carpets, then what would you search for in Google?
- Carpet cleaners in kent
- Carpet cleaning in kent
- Kent carpet cleaners
- Best carpet cleaners in kent
- Carpet cleaning company kent
- Carpet cleaning company near me
- Best kent carpet cleaning company
These are just a few of the terms that the majority of you are probably thinking of..
Deciding on the keywords to choose to rank for comes into the keyword research part of the process.
We use Ahrefs as part of our keyword research phase
Choosing the correct keywords for the website is paramount to its success.
Think of it as the foundations of a building.
If the foundations are crap then the building falls. If they are solid, then the structure lasts forever.
The same principle applies when it comes to building a website and having the best keywords in place.
Ok, so the site is built, it’s starting to turn up at the top of Google for some of those keywords we mentioned above and it’s starting to receive calls from potential customers looking for those carpet cleaning services.
This is the part of the process when you have to start reaching out to actual carpet cleaners in Kent to see if they would be interested in renting the site of you on a monthly basis.
Some people get caught up in this part of the process as they can’t find it within themselves to pick up the phone or even email a company asking for them to rent the site.
The first time we had to do this, we were shitting ourselves.
This part is all about SALES, pure and simple.
We built our first rank and rent site (aka lead generation website) back in 2016 in the landscaping niche for a particular suburb in a city in the U.S
Our initial research was spot on because after 3 months the website was ranking in the top 5 for the majority of the keywords we targeted.
The phone number on the site was a tracking phone number that was relevant to the city we were in, and we had it forwarded to our own number.
Initially, we just took and the name and phone number of the person calling and told them someone would call them back asap to answer their questions and give them a quote for the job etc.
Remember, they called the number on the website and they were looking for those services, so we had to find a suitable landscaping company to take these calls.
It took us a month of trial and error trying to find a suitable landscaper who actually understood the deal. Most of them thought it was a scam (even though we gave them free calls for a week).
Other landscapers were just not interested in taking on more business, for whatever reasons.
Locking in a renter for the website!
Finally, we found a client that was hungry enough and appreciated the opportunity that fell into his lap.
His own landscaping website wasn’t even on the first two pages of Google and he was only getting business from repeat customers or word or mouth referrals.
He wasn’t getting new business, because he wasn’t being found online.
Once he saw the position of our lead generation website at the top of Google for all the keywords, he knew that things were about to change!
We agreed to $400 per month for the first three months for us to forward all calls on our website to his mobile phone number and then renegotiate after that.
Re-Negotiating the deal
After the first three months we upped the price to $1,200 per month as a flat fee with no further price increases for the duration of our agreement.
Over the past year, the client had to take on more staff and even bought another truck for his business to keep up with the amount of new business our website sends him.
That particular website generates 120 – 170 calls per month and makes us $14,400 (€12,445) a year….. passively.
You can imagine how much money it generates for this business owner who rents it!
We don’t touch the site anymore and haven’t done so for over a year now.
The total amount we spend per year to maintain this particular website is a grand total of about $600 (€518).
Not a bad deal.
They key point to note in all of this discussion on the Rank and Rent model is that we own the websites!
What this means is that we exclusively own all the digital properties associated with the website (domain, social media accounts etc).
That way, we’re the “digital landlords” of these websites.
Our job is to find a good “tenant” that’s happy to rent the website off us.
If the “tenant” doesn’t pay their rent, then they’re evicted from the house – the same applies with the Rank and Rent approach.
If this happens (and it has) then we stop forwarding the calls from the website to that business and call up a competitor to see if they’d like the new business.
A Rank & Rent empire in the making
We’ve rinsed and repeated this rank and rent model over the past three years where we’ve built up a mini-empire of our own.
Obviously, not every website we build is a home run. When that happens, then we just chalk it down, cut our losses and move on.
As you can see, the rank and rent approach to SEO definitely has its advantages over increasing the position of a client’s website that you do not own.
The obvious disadvantage to rank and rent is that it can take months to get to the first page of the search engines.
There’s a lot more to all of this than I just described, but this post is to just give you an idea of what’s initially involved.
We’ve spent the best part of the past three years slowly learning, testing and tweaking our SEO skills.
Project Management & Tracking
Just like our Freelance Writing business, we have strong systems and processes in place to help us manage all this stuff.
Without a solid system, you’ll end up costing yourself a lot of time and money in the long run as you increase the number of websites or clients.
Google Sheets to the rescue again
We absolutely love Google sheets for this sort of stuff.
It’s so powerful, customisable and easily allows collaboration with team members.
Here’s a snapshot of the CPU of our Project Management system.
The best thing about a system like this, is that so many tasks are auto-populated once you take on a new client or rank & rent website.
There are multiple tabs in the project manager and each one “talks” to each other so that data is populated at the touch of a button.
We manage everything for our SEO business through this tool and it allows us to scale our business at ease.
This post is just a tiny glimpse of the type of SEO we current do for both our own sites and those of our clients.
Chilling out in Bangkok