Have you heard the terms SEO, SEM, or PPC being used casually in a business meeting or conversation? It’s easy to nod along, never admitting that you don’t know what these acronyms mean. That’s okay. We’ve compiled a list that explains what these basic marketing terms, so you can feel empowered to use them and make informed business decisions. 



SEO stands for search engine optimization. Effective SEO gradually improves the online visibility of a website or brand through organic, or unpaid, results. SEO involves processes like keyword research and link building. A focused SEO strategy can increase the quality and quantity of incoming traffic to certain website pages. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are the most significant search engines in western countries and they operate using algorithms that calculate what and how to display the most relevant search results. These algorithms change frequently, and it’s essential to work with an SEO specialist who stays informed of these developments. Failing to adhere to updates can negatively impact a website’s visibility. 

In the past, devious individuals learned to bypass and shortcut the ranking process through what we call “Black Hat” aka Spamdexing techniques – such as buying links from link farms, keyword stuffing in pages, hiding words in invisible fonts, and other deliberate manipulations of search engine indexes. Search engines like Google caught onto this pretty quickly and started penalizing websites who weren’t playing by the rules. At Absolute, we deploy genuine strategies to develop effective organic marketing that will generate qualified leads for our clients. 

If you want to learn more, visit our page to read about our services and our successes in building SEO strategies for our clients in Tampa Bay and beyond. 


On the other end of the digital marketing spectrum, we have SEM: search engine marketing. SEM includes paid placements, banner advertisements, or anything using Google AdWords which can generate positive results for businesses and brands. Paid activities in the digital marketing world include PPC, CPC, or CPA ads – don’t panic, we’ll explain in a second. 

SEM can be a powerful marketing tool for brand awareness and lead generation. Depending on the industry landscape, the efforts of competitors, and the cost of ads, we recommend a targeted SEM campaign to complement ongoing SEO and maintain momentum for your business. 



PPC stands for pay-per-click, a popular form of paid advertising via Google AdWords and other third-party platforms. These ads allow you to set a limit for the amount you’ll pay per click. This makes it easy to forecast how many clicks you’ll receive within your allotted budget. 

PPC is a powerful tool because you can bid for high placements and get an immediate return on investment (ROI). Ads appear above organic search results, and users are highly motivated to click them since they’re often searching for a specific product, service, or answer. 


CPC means cost per click; every time an ad gets clicked, it costs money. CPC tells advertisers the exact price of each click on a particular ad. 

After running a campaign, you’ll be able to see the average CPC and then test variables such as keyword selection, ad copy, position in the ad space, and other factors accordingly. Keep in mind that depending on your competition, keywords can be expensive. For instance, a personal injury attorney or an insurance company should expect to pay double, if not triple, for a single click on their ad compared to niche companies.  


CPA can be a useful form of advertising for a business owner who is focused on how much a new customer costs to acquire. The acronym stands for cost-per-acquisition and refers to exactly that: the cost to get a new customer.  

Search Engine Land conducted an extensive study in 2016 and published an article outlining the industry averages for CPA by analyzing more than 2,000 clients in all verticals. They found that the average CPA in AdWords across all industries was $59.18 for Search and $60.76 for display. The CPA’s across industries varied greatly, however, with legal services being a top CPA industry at a whopping $135.17. For more industry benchmarks, check out their article here. 


If you want to venture into paid advertising, another option you have is to go with CPM as a cost model. As opposed to CPC, where you pay each time someone clicks on your ad, CPM stands for cost per mille (one thousand impressions). You set a budget based on how much you want to pay to have your ad shared with one thousand viewers, readers, or listeners.


You may have heard of marketers talking about CTR, which stands for click-through rate. It’s typically expressed as a percentage because it represents the number of users who clicked on an ad compared to the number of users who solely saw the ad. For example, if you created an ad on Facebook that reached 12,000 people, and 120 people clicked, then your CTR would be 1%. 

Many of our clients ask “what is a good CTR?” however, that question is highly subjective. The higher, the better, but it will vary based on industry and competition. In a study conducted by Wordstream, the average CTR in AdWords is 1.91% on the search network, and 0.35% on the display network. For more information about average CTR’s by industry, visit the guide here.


In the marketing world, CTA stands for call to action. This is a specific instruction given to your reader. It may encourage calling, clicking, buying, or subscribing. Successful CTAs rely on the persuasiveness and quality of the copy, the value of the promotion, and the price. Make sure to work with an experienced copywriter to develop powerful CTAs.  


No, MoM has nothing to do with your mother, or how she may or may not be made of money. MoM is a key performance indicator (KPI) that stands for month-over-month. MoM can be a measure of growth, market traction, business expansion, or any other rates of change. It’s a particularly useful metric for businesses and organizations that are based on monthly subscriptions or memberships.  

If you’re still perplexed, contact the marketing team at Absolute Marketing Solutions. Starting with a free consultation, we’ll put together a strategy to help your business achieve digital success. Call us today at (813) 908-6862.