How a Technical SEO Audit Accelerated Cherry Central’s Growth

Posted on in Case Studies

Cherry Central was formed as a family-owned farming cooperative with partners across the country. Hundreds of small farms and orchards invest in shared resources and sales opportunities. One of the key appeals of a cooperative is marketing, and it’s a responsibility Cherry Central takes seriously.

Cherry Central reached out to Oneupweb shortly after their recently constructed website was launched by another firm. We identified several opportunities to get more out of their digital investment and grow valuable wholesale leads and retail sales revenue.

The Problem

Pain points were summarized as follows:

  • Poor organic search visibility
  • Unimpressive conversions
  • Challenges with global reach and lack of Chinese translations
  • Challenges with expanding into retail sales
  • Confusing site structure to serve commercial and retail audiences

Let’s elaborate!

We met with Cherry Central’s leadership team to hear why they weren’t thrilled with their new site. After several months, organic sessions and conversions on the site were already beginning to decline. While market trends could have caused this decline, the metrics didn’t match what sales reps were hearing from customers. Demand was up, and due to inconsistent crops and supply chain challenges, most fruit and produce distributors were operating at full capacity throughout 2021. Organic search plays a vital role in helping retail and commercial customers find fruit growers like Cherry Central.

Cherry Central also needed to increase its global reach. With US produce in high demand around the world, the sales team wanted to provide Chinese users with translated pages for commercial orders. This functionality became a key focus for Oneupweb’s developers.

Finally, Cherry Central continues to operate several retail brands. Their team wanted to enable users to find their products at local distributors, or to purchase retail products online. This would open an entirely new revenue stream, but it also added a degree of complexity to a website that was otherwise a repository of information.

As it turned out, serving these needs—and two audiences—had created problems for the previous agency.

The Solutions

Here’s what we found and fixed after a rigorous technical site audit.

Website Restructure

If you build it (correctly), they will come!

The Oneupweb team identified the root cause of the new site’s poor organic search performance. Built to serve two audiences, the site had created a list of pages and resources focused on the needs of commercial users. The former designers or developers simply duplicated these pages under another subfolder, resulting in dozens of pages with slightly different URLs but identical page content. This isn’t great for users, and it’s especially challenging for Google to index (and see value in) these duplicate pages.

Oneupweb workshopped several alternatives with Cherry Central to settle on a solution: instead of forcing users to categorize themselves as commercial or retail customers from the homepage, we’d let them explore the site without being put in a box. In this scenario, users could learn more about Cherry Central, access its resources, or shop commercial and retail products in a way that aligns with most website experiences today.

Related: The Big, Bad List of SEO Terms You Need to Know

Multi-Language Website Setup

One major priority for this project was improving the user experience for Cherry Central’s international customers. The Chinese market was an excellent growth opportunity for fresh produce, and our team emphasized the importance of providing accurate translations and a seamless, multi-language experience to suit prospective customers in that market.

Technical SEO Fixes

To address the duplicated pages and other issues that were hindering SEO performance, we made several updates:

  • Resolved duplicate page meta data, including duplicate meta descriptions on more than 90% of the site’s pages.
  • Optimized the XML sitemap to maximize crawl budget. Then submit the XML sitemap in Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
  • Updated product category navigation to make finding, filtering and selecting products more intuitive for users.
  • Resolved 404 errors by implementing redirects and correcting broken internal links.
  • Improve website accessibility and SEO by adding alt text to all photos and graphics.

Using a bucket of retainer hours, our SEO and web development teams were able to resolve these issues quickly.

The Results

Oneupweb completed the work in March 2022, and it immediately impacted site performance. We compared Q2 and Q3 of 2022 to the same period in 2021 to gauge success:

  • Organic users increased by 62.35%.
  • Organic sessions increased by 4,088%.
  • Organic international users increased by 37.27%, including a 61.25% increase in India and a 2.38% increase in China.

The Perfect Case Study for Agricultural Marketing

Farm marketing is serious business. Agriculture and related businesses account for 5% of the US gross domestic product (GDP). The market’s $1.1 trillion value is built on the added value derived from $134.7 billion in revenue earned by farmers and farming cooperatives like Cherry Central.

Farming cooperatives have been around for decades. In addition to sharing distribution costs, supply purchases, sales expenses and marketing budgets, these cooperatives achieve lower operating costs per unit. This makes their products more competitive in national and international markets.

Effective digital marketing for farmers and farm co-ops helps family-owned businesses compete globally. Cherry Central’s technical site audit and subsequent improvements provided exceptional value to its partners across the country. The work has increased brand awareness in the US and overseas and is putting Michigan cherries and Washington apples into food products worldwide.

 Let’s Grow Your Digital Marketing

For more than twenty years, Oneupweb has helped businesses in several industries create effective digital strategies. We’re a fully integrated marketing agency that can leverage experienced designers, writers, photographers and developers to drive your marketing efforts. See what we can do for your organization; get in touch or call 231-922-9977 today to get started.

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