6 Ways SEO Can Reduce Website Carbon Footprint

website carbon footprint

Did you know that your website could have a big effect on carbon footprint? Electricity usage is the key driver of a website’s carbon footprint. 

We as SEO professionals have a moral duty to reduce our website’s carbon footprint. But how? Well, this listicle is to answer that. But first, let’s deep dive into the background of how the internet uses energy. 

How website consumes energy?

Well, this is simple. Internet uses electricity. And by internet, I mean everything that constitutes it including telecom operators, data centers, the device that you use to access the internet- everything uses a lot of electricity. If we add everything, you’ll be surprised to know that the energy spent on running the internet is almost the same as the amount of electricity spent in the United Kingdom!  

Now, more the time we spend on the internet every day, more will be the energy consumption. We may not notice it, however, there’s a huge carbon footprint due to our internet habits. This article is not focused on shaming the consumers, rather it’s more for those of us working in SEO or website development, and how we could reduce the website carbon footprint. 

With Search engine optimization, it gets easier for people to look for what they want on the internet faster. With successful SEO, people spend lesser time on the internet since they get what they want easily. So people don’t waste their time on the internet on useless websites. 

Now that’s exactly what we want in terms of reducing energy usage. With people spending less time on the internet looking for what they want, they spend less energy. 

Below are the 6 Ways How SEO Can Reduce Website Carbon Footprint:

1. Value content

Content plays a crucial role in energy consumption. Long content on websites means that people will spend a long time on the page, leading to more energy consumption. This could be contradictory to SEO since the website that you will optimize for search engine ranking needs to make sure that it has relevant keywords and copy length. Our goal as SEO Experts is to make sure that people spend more time on a page looking through our content. However, at the same time, we should make sure that people don’t waste their time going through the junk. The content needs to provide a lot of value to the consumer, which will make sure lesser energy consumption takes place. 

2. Videos and Images

Just like written content, images and videos are driving factors of website carbon footprint. They contribute greatly to a website’s weight. The heavier images or videos you use, the greater it’ll take to load the website, leading to more data consumed—hence more energy is used. SEO experts should evaluate the use of images and videos on pages. 

We should think about how efficiently we could use the space. Are those videos or images really important? Is it possible to reduce the size of the content, or maybe use features like a lazy load? In short, simply ask yourself, if the image or the video going to add any value to the user? If adding video to our page is important, check if you can remove auto-play or simply create shorter video content with lots of value. 

3. Fonts

It may be out of sight and out of mind, but website fonts add significant weight in form of font files on the pages. The standard weight for a single font file could be as high as 250kb. On top of it, if you choose to add bold, the weights double up! So to reduce the unnecessary weight of the font file, make sure you use the system fonts as and where possible.

4. Technical SEO Audit- Optimizing JavaScript

JavaScript impacts a website’s carbon footprint greatly by the amount of processing the user’s device requires. It also adds weight to the website in the form of code files. 

The JavaScript codes and functions are fundamentally processed on the user’s device, like laptops or smartphones, which exponentially increases the CPU consumption. This is the same reason why sometimes your cooling fans go crazy.  

  • Try and remove all the unused JavaScript to reduce bytes used.
  • Use a more efficient structure like that of CSS. 
  • Try to Minify JavaScript files that can reduce the payload sizes and also the script parse time.

5. Use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

The accelerated mobile page is a special feature that makes the page load quicker by removing the useless piece of coding and weight of the files. AMP’s main aim is to present a minimal version of the original version of the page. 

Google prefers AMP on smartphone search results, which means better ranking for your content. Honestly, if your website is optimized in the first place, AMP won’t help much. However, since AMP strips some of the content from your website when it is showed on the search engine results page, so you may miss showing some important aspects of your page if you’ve selected AMP. Be mindful of this tool. 

6. Build static web pages

Each time someone tries to load a page, the webserver has to do a lot of work, which means more energy is spent by the servers. One solution is to simply go for static web pages without any database. In simple terms, website pages could be coded in HTML or CSS (or JS), or by a static site generator. 

Final Words

We must reduce our website’s carbon footprint. It may be challenging to calculate a website’s carbon footprint accurately (however there are readily available tools like Website Carbon that could help). We as digital marketers or SEO professions could do a lot to reduce it and it should be our number one priority. The action steps mentioned above are not difficult to achieve, however, need careful understanding and planning in every step leading to the launch of any website. 

Finally, it’s safe to say that we have so many ways how we can reduce website carbon footprint and make it greener. When it comes to singling one method out, unfortunately, the answer is complicated. It’s the cumulative effect of all the above that is going to be fruitful in your attempt of saving energy. So let’s get going, optimizing, and start saving some energy!

Published by Aarohi Surya

About Aarohi Surya: -Over 10 Years of Digital Marketing Experience -Digital Marketing Strategist – Has created and executed over 100 Digital Marketing Plans -Digital Project Expert – Has managed over 1000s of digital projects -SEO Expert – Managed SMEs to large business' SEO Projects

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