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Local Lead Generation vs SEO Agency: Which Business Model Is Better?

January 22, 2023

Local lead generation and SEO are online business models. But if you can learn how to leverage Google and drive websites to the top of the SERPs. Both are a chance to make money online. Become an expert at securing a steady flow of organic traffic. And you're guaranteed a passive income or a steady paycheck.

Local lead gen is a chance to create a passive income because it's all about websites you own. An SEO Agency, on the other hand, is a way to secure a steady paycheck. You're providing a service for companies who pay you to build their online presence. But you don't own any assets.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at the pros and cons of each. We'll also cover topics like the role of SEO in lead generation. How you make money with lead generation. And if SEO can improve sales. Plus, why SEO is profitable but not always sustainable. And why local lead generation is the better option long-term.

How Do You Decide Between Lead Generation vs SEO?

Things To Consider When Choosing The Right Business Model For You:

  • Do you want to be an entrepreneur or a freelancer?

  • Do you enjoy building long-term relationships? Or would you rather have shorter commitments?

  • Would you choose to have full control over every aspect of your business? Or do you prefer to provide a service?

  • Is your end goal a passive income, or are you content with a paycheck?

What Is Local Lead Generation?

Local lead generation takes total strangers on the internet and converts them into potential customers. Lead gen is also a way to build trust. And when it's done right can result in high-quality prospects with even higher sales conversions. There are a few ways to generate leads like:

  • Websites & GBPs

  • Social Media Marketing & Email Marketing 

  • Landing Pages & Funnels

  • Paid Ads & SEM

But the most consistent way to secure a steady stream of purchase-ready customers. (People who are actively looking for the service you provide). Is by building and ranking websites.

This is the method taught in our local lead generation coaching program. So, not only is it a proven concept. (We've been teaching for almost a decade). But I began using this exact strategy in 2014. And now make a monthly income of over $52K.

What Is SEO?

SEO is the acronym for search engine optimization—the modus operandi that gets your website to the top of Google search engines. Naturally, the higher you rank, the more online traffic you achieve. So land at the top of the SERPs, and you get in front of an audience. People who are ready to buy what you have to offer. In fact, according to Search Engine Journal, the first ranked organic spot on Google gets 28.5% of clicks. Plus, that free online traffic can result in more sales, higher ROIs, and better brand awareness.

But it's prime real estate. So you need a marketing strategy that should consist of four key elements, including: 

SEO Fundamentals

  • Keywords-Top queries that you can rank for. (You can use tools like Keywords Everywhere & Ubersuggest).
  • Technical-This includes load speed, UX/UI, crawlability, etc. (You can use tools like SEMRush or Screaming Frog to conduct an SEO audit and see what areas need improving).
  • Content-You need to have a content marketing strategy that includes user-generated, high-quality content. Copy that's optimized for both the user experience and Google algorithms but still provides value.
  • Backlinks-Off-site 'votes' demonstrate to Google that you're an authority in your industry. (This is how you build trust).

SEO takes time and money. But the only way to get free organic traffic is to be at the top. Once your client's website is ranked, however, they can decide they don't need you anymore. So all that time, effort, and money is gone.

And your SEO Agency will need to find a new client. That's why local lead generation is a more sustainable business model. You own the websites, and you own the leads. So if a business owner decides not to pay, you just go to the competition.

Local Lead Generation vs SEO Agency Pros & Cons

Local Lead Generation Advantages

You hold the golden handcuffs because the websites, tracking number and leads all belong to you

If a business owner decides not to pay, pivot and send your leads to the competition (this is how our students have lead gen properties that have been paying them for years) 

No one can take your web property away. Plus, once it’s at the top of the SERPs, it takes little to no maintenance, which creates a long-term passive income asset

SEO Agency Advantages

Clients pay upfront for your services 

SEO takes time (so you’ll earn money while you rank their site)

You can get referrals from clients who recognize the value of your service

Local Lead Generation Disadvantages

You need to cover the costs to build and rank your lead gen sites until you can rent them to a business owner

Some niches take a long time to rank (even at the local level)

Connecting with business owners who see the value in lead generation can be challenging at times

SEO Agency Disadvantages

Once you rank their website there’s nothing to stop the client from terminating their contract or refusing to continue to pay for your service

Clients often have unrealistic expectations or get impatient because they don’t understand the process or see the value of ongoing SEO

You don’t own the asset, so you need to get permission from the business owner if you want to make changes to their site, social media accounts, etc.

What’s The Difference Between SEO & Lead Generation?

SEO and lead generation both focus on driving online traffic. But they're not the same. The biggest difference between the two business models is that SEO is about rankings and increasing web traffic. In contrast, lead gen is focused on getting local companies more business. 

An SEO Agency will use a few KPIs (key performance indicators). And any agency worth its salt will benchmark progress with metrics that include things like:

  • Keyword Rankings
  • Average Position
  • Average Engagement Time
  • New & Returning Users

They use third-party tools like ahrefs or Mangools SERP Watcher to measure metrics. (But the more KPIs you measure, the more you'll pay for their services). 

On the other hand, local lead generation uses SEO to get traffic. But the focus is less on the rankings and more about the results. Lead gen uses the number of calls and contact forms as the barometer of success.

The goal with lead gen is to get more paying customers. So the lead generation business model is more results-driven than an SEO agency. And it's more aligned with the interests of local business owners.

How Does SEO Affect Lead Generation?

Local lead generation and SEO are two distinct business models. But SEO does have a direct effect on lead gen. This is because SEO can impact how fast or how well your lead gen site ranks. And because the more you show up on Google. The more leads you can get. Google is a trusted brand. So people go to Google to search for a product or service they need right now.

But by learning the skills you master how to rank your sites faster. And gain an understanding of search intent and the best way to reach your target audience. 

Pro Tip: You can take the skills we teach you in our program and make some fast money doing SEO part-time. Then you can fund your lead generation business or diversify your income.

Local Lead Generation: 3 Questions You Need Answering

1. Why Lead Generation Is The Best Way To Secure Long-Term Clients

Lead generation is the best way to secure high-ticket clients. Use the rank and rent business model to get your sites to the top. Then, once they're generating calls, you can send your leads to potential business owners for free. So not only do you establish your value. But you don't have to employ techniques like:

  • Cold Calling

  • Email Marketing
  • Case Studies

By using the leads in advance method we teach in our local lead gen training. You don't need to convince a company to leverage your services. Instead, they will happily pay you for leads long-term.

On the other hand, with an SEO agency, you don't own any assets. So you have to depend on your experience and track record. Or have a smooth sales pitch to secure paying clients. But most clients aren't willing to invest long-term. So you're constantly on the hunt for new prospects.

2. What Is The Role Of SEO In Lead Generation?

SEO is how you get your lead gen properties to the top of the search result in Google. Of course, you need to use search engine optimization to increase web traffic and brand awareness. But by building authoritative digital assets. And leveraging the local SEO tips you have an arsenal of SEO lead generation tactics to rank your sites.

Other SEO strategies like link building, citations, and site speed are necessary skill sets. Plus, you need to understand how to implement (GBP) GMB SEO strategies. And the best way to get your map listing to the top of the SERPs with things like:

Ranking Strategies

  • Reviews & Ratings

  • Posts & Images)

  • FAQs & Messaging

But the real ranking factor is a higher click-through rate. Clicks that result in more leads and sales for local business owners. (That's why we include in-depth training on GBPs. And the best ways to leverage a Google listing for our students).

3. Is Local Lead Generation Profitable? How Does The Business Model Make Money?

Local lead generation is profitable. In fact, it can be extremely lucrative. This is because you're building digital assets. So you don't need to invest significant capital like traditional real estate. Instead, each lead gen site you create and rank equates to a potential passive income. 

Plus, there's no limit to how many properties you build or where you rent the website. (There are over 41,683 ZIP codes in the USA. And each represents a potential market)—natural barriers and specific search engine marketing skills to control the competition. (Like the ones taught in our lead generation coaching. Methods that aren't easily found on YouTube or Google).

But if you understand sales leads. And how to employ other tactics to drive traffic to your sites. Then, you can secure a pipeline of quality leads. Plus, the more assets you build and rent, the more money you can make with lead gen. And once your site is rented, it requires minimal maintenance. So not only do you have a steady cash flow. But you have time to build more assets and the ability to generate a passive income.

SEO: You Asked These 3 Questions

1. Is SEO Profitable?

Yes, SEO is profitable. In fact, nearly 30% of global web traffic comes from online search usage. So local SEO agencies who know how to manipulate user flow. Or who can successfully increase a website's visibility online can make some serious coin.

But your local digital marketing services need to demonstrate a direct correlation between your SEO strategy and a business owner's ROIs. Not always an easy feat for a digital marketing agency. But by leveraging third-party tools like:

  • Google Analytics & Google Search Console
  • SpyFu & SEMRush
  • Answer The Public & Moz Pro

You can determine where opportunities lie. And how to outplay the competition.

But you also need to convince the business owner that SEO is a long-term investment. And if they don't understand the value. Or view SEO as a one-time task they won't hang around. Unlike lead generation, where you own the digital real estate business. So if a local company decides to close shop, you can sell your leads to the competition.

With an SEO agency, you always need to be prospecting. And finding ways to channel new potential clients. Plus, because SEO is competitive, you need to have a solid portfolio of case studies. And tangible proof that you're worth your price tag and prove you're the best local SEO company.

2. Can SEO Improve Sales?

Yes, SEO can improve sales. Of course, a lot of local SEO service options use techniques to increase organic traffic. But there are numerous options for paid advertising. An SEO agency can set up and manage campaigns like:

Not only are paid ads a quick way to get some easy wins. But you can advertise on multiple channels and get your website in front of a new audience. Plus, you can target a potential customer looking for the product or service you offer. Ones that have not found you previously with a local search on Google. Paid ads are also easier to measure and can be a cost-effective way to build trust with your client. 

Pro Tip: Be sure your client has a budget to cover the cost of ads. (Paid advertising is expensive, and prices continue to escalate).

3. Is SEO Worth It?

SEO is worth it. In fact, it can be the key difference maker in getting more sales. But it can also build trust and brand awareness. SEO is how people find your website. And with 93% of online experiences starting with a search. You need to be at the top if you want to get attention. SEO is also a chance to eliminate the competition and get to the top of the search engines.

As a result, your website gets more eyeballs from people actively looking for the product or service you offer. Plus, SEO leads have a higher close rate than traditional digital marketing techniques. And according to Bright Edge, SEO generates "1000% more traffic than social media."

local lead generation example

If you know how to optimize your Google My Business to get your listing to the top of the Google Map. And understand on-page and off-site SEO tactics. Then, you can dominate your niche market and achieve high ROIs.

But if you build a web property for your client and rank it alongside their site. Then you can channel an additional source of online traffic. As a result, you'll cast a wider net where potential customers can find you and get even more high-quality leads and sales.

Can You Do Local Lead Generation & SEO?

Yes, you can do local lead gen and local SEO services. You can start an SEO business part-time if you're looking for some fast money. Then you can leverage your SEO skills but with a twist. And build lead gen properties for your SEO clients. So they rely on your expertise (and leads) long term.

Why Local Lead Generation Is Our Number One Recommendation

If you're content with a paycheck. Or you'll be happy working with websites rather than owning them. Then starting an SEO agency is the way to go. Build a team of experts and secure a solid client base; you can make some good money with SEO.

But if your goal is to land a passive income. Or you want to own digital real estate. Then starting a local lead gen business is the ideal option. And our number one recommendation in 2024. Not only does lead gen offer a way to create digital assets that will appreciate over time. But when you know how to get your lead gen properties to the top of the SERPs, you own prime real estate that needs little ongoing maintenance.

Local lead generation

Like the site above, I built it in 2014 (it took me about 10 hours). I've been making $2000/month from this site for the last 8 years. (I have over 80 others). Plus, with lead generation, you own the sites, the tracking number, and the leads. So you control every aspect of your business. Rent your sites with a payment arrangement you choose. And you have a passive income.


Local lead generation and an SEO agency are both lucrative online business models. But is one better than the other? Again, it comes down to your long-term goals. Do you want to own every facet of your business? Or are you content to provide a service? Of course, both business models have pros and cons. But there are other factors to consider like:

  • Do you have the capital to fund a lead gen company?
  • Are you willing to spend your own money to rank sites?
  • Will you be satisfied with short-term commitments?
  • Can you accept that clients might terminate their contracts once you get them to the top?

There is a way you can do both, and that's covered in our local lead gen coaching. Here you learn SEO strategies and lead gen hacks. Methods that make you indispensable to small business owners. So you can fund your business and still create a passive income.

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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