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June 7th, 2017  /  Marketing, Strategy

Lead Generation Strategies: SEO vs PPC

True story: The below blog is actually an email that I had written to a business owner who had asked us a really common (and really important) question: What’s the difference between SEO and PPC advertising?

Specifically, he was interested in learning more about which one of these digital marketing tactics made the most sense for lead generation.

After sending this response, we thought it was a valuable overview to provide to all lead-gen-help-seekers across the internet.



Search Engine Optimization For Lead Generation

SEO, for most organizations, is one of the most effective long-term strategies for generating new business. In basic terms, SEO is an ongoing process to ensure your website is found by your audience in search engines, like Google. It often involves a combination of technical SEO and contextual SEO, explained below.

Technical SEO can be thought of as the ways you can leverage the structure of your website (the code, for example) to tell search engines, “Hey, this is what my website is about.” It is also used to look at things like the speed of your website, and how the structure of your site is set up, to ensure everything is working properly. This type of effort is important for every website and is often something you should revisit on an ongoing basis.

Contextual SEO is where the ‘ongoing’ stuff happens; it’s where you do things like keyword research, blogging, link building, and more. Your goal is to create valuable content that helps your website rank well for specific keywords. Basically, you are creating content that your audience will consume, which in turn helps you build trust.

When it comes to lead gen efforts, SEO is great because you are positioning your website to be found by your ideal customers/clients during the research phase (i.e. your audience turns to Google to find potential solutions). While building an organic presence takes time, the long-term pay-off is great.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising for Lead Generation

PPC is a completely different animal when it comes to lead generation. A good metaphor here is if SEO is like planting a new garden in your backyard, PPC is more like going to the store to buy fresh flowers (one of these things provides long-term results, the other is immediate).

Most PPC advertising occurs via Google AdWords (the ads that show up when you do a search) and via social media networks. For now, we’ll focus on AdWords, as it is the ‘default’ tool people new to PPC consider. AdWords is great for companies with any budget, as you can set your budget per day and you only get billed for the instances where someone clicks your ad, making it pretty low-risk to get started with.

In PPC, you would run an ad (or series of ads) that would show up for the keywords you set, to the audience you set (i.e. only show the ad for people in your region). Then, when someone clicks your ad, they are taken to whichever page you are linking to, called a ‘landing page.’

While PPC can be really effective at generating leads in the short term, it isn’t always a great long-term strategy, as the cost per lead is typically much higher than that of an organic lead (one that finds you via Google search). Plus, if you suddenly have a change in budget and you are relying on PPC for your leads, you’ll face a steep drop-off in leads coming in (no budget = no PPC).


SEO and PPC are both great for lead generation, each with their own pros and cons.

In most cases, we would recommend that an organization puts most of their eggs in the SEO basket (building toward long-term, sustainable success), but still have a portion of their monthly budget set aside for PPC advertising across various networks.

This way, your business is investing the bulk of your time and money into a system that generates leads in the long term, but you can still get leads in the door in the short term.

Next Steps

Thanks for checking out his blog post* (*that came from an actual email). If you’d like to learn more about SEO, PPC, or lead generation, check out some of our [awesome] resources below.

You can also get in touch with our digital team here to learn more about applying these concepts to your business.

Other helpful resources:

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About Bryce Mikkelson

Bryce Mikkelson

I'm the Digital Strategist here at Regal, which basically means I help cast the vision for all things web and digital marketing. Sometimes, I write about my experiences doing just that.

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Bryce Mikkelson
Bryce Mikkelson

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