Interview with Ward Tongen

We recently interviewed Ward Tongen and asked him a few questions relevant to any web marketer or web designer interested in creating websites that will stand the test of time (and Google).


Ward Tongen is a Principal Interactive Strategist for Medtronic and is the President of Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association. Ward is an active participant in the industry and has been for over 10 years, you can find him speaking at various conferences throughout the year.

Connect with Ward on: Facebook  Google+  LinkedIn

1. Can you please tell us a bit more about yourself and how you got started in this field?

I am actually an oil and gas geologist by education and training. I left geology behind in the mid 1990’s and switched my career to Interactive. We called it eMarketing back then. I originally got into search marketing over 10 years ago at St. Jude Medical. That’s when I discovered the power that search has in placing relevant healthcare information in front of searchers who need it.

2. Can you tell us a bit about what you do at Medtronic?

I am now a Principal Interactive Strategist at Medtronic Neuromodulation. I support the team in the areas of search marketing, web metrics and social media. Medtronic Neuromodulation therapies include neurostimulation systems and implantable drug delivery systems for chronic pain, common movement disorders, and urologic and gastrointestinal disorders. I call myself an inbound marketer who saves lives. (grin)

3. What is your favorite thing about search?

Search marketing is an art and a science. In fact, it’s rocket science; it really is. It’s complicated and changing constantly. I love that it offers me the opportunity to constantly learn something new. And the people. Working with talented writers, designers and technologists is very stimulating and inspiring.

4. What do you think the biggest challenges are facing the industry right now?

Change and big ponderous corporate culture. One thing and one thing only never changes, and that is change itself. Deal with it.

5. What do you think web designers should know about SEO (if anything) and vice versa?

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is the first thing to come to mind when I hear that question. In my mind CRO sits at the juxtaposition of web design, analytics and SEO.

6. Based on your experience teaching SEO to designers, copywriters and others what advice do you have for SEOs working either in-house or in an agency for getting buy-in and internal education?

My advice would be to position yourself at the flipping point where large corporations are finally in the process of realizing that they need to realign their marketing efforts from traditional to Interactive, which is how their audiences are getting their information. They are alarmed, worried and afraid. Rightfully so, the paradigm continues to shift. We can help.

7. What are your favorite resources for staying up-to-date with the industry?

I actually wrote a guest blog post on this topic not to long ago for the Conductor blog on how to keep up with the “hockey stick” of change. I use Twitter, feeds and our local search marketing association to keep up. Surrounding myself with professionals smarter than me also helps.

8. You were an integral part of founding MN Search. What does the industry landscape look like in Minneapolis?

I was nominated to be the first president of the Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association board by eight search professionals that I greatly respect and admire. From this vantage point I saw a very dynamic community of search professionals in the Twin Cities. Minnesota is a hotbed of search marketing activity. There are many Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the Twin Cities. The metro area is known as “Medical Alley” due to the high number of biomedical and life science organizations. We even have several “search celebrities” in this state.

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