How SEO Can Drive Your Sustainability Goals

James Smith

Head of SEO - PLMR Genesis

Internet and digital systems account for approximately 3.7% of global emissions worldwide. This is a huge figure which is set to rise. From an SEO perspective, there are several measures that you can put in place to help offset your website’s digital carbon footprint and be more sustainable.

Digital carbon refers to the carbon emissions created by all things digital. This includes activity from search engines, websites, emails and social media platforms that all need to store data somewhere. 

This requires high-powered servers and people to maintain them, resulting in vast amounts of electricity generated. This often comes from fossil-fuel based sources, adding to overall carbon emissions. Every website contributes to this on a global scale. 

Interestingly, Google is among the few technology companies out there that are carbon neutral and strive to be carbon free by 2030. 

You can calculate your own website carbon footprint by using this free carbon calculator.   

How can SEO impact this?

Every action a search engine bot takes, every image loaded, every redirect and link clicked – these all require resources to load, which in turn generates digital carbon. 

When we think of SEO, we think about how we can best optimise a website’s functionality, usability, and speed to benefit organic visibility. 

However, more importantly, every activity that benefits your site organically helps to reduce the digital carbon footprint that your site generates. 

Here are some SEO practices that can help to reduce your carbon footprint 

Correctly optimising images  

Resources to load and store image data can be reduced significantly by correctly sizing and compressing images prior to upload. Smaller images require less time and resources to load and therefore crawl – improving page speed and reducing CO2 produced.  

Reduce page loading  

One of the best ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your website is to improve the page load speed. Having web pages that load efficiently means less time for users to wait around, resulting in less energy used and fewer CO2 emissions generated.  

Implement lazy loading  

Lazy loading can result in your page rendering faster by instructing only certain parts of a page to load until a user hits a certain point. That way, you’re not forcing your website to load an entire web page all at once when users land on it.  

If you’re using a CMS such as WordPress, there are several efficient plugins readily available to implement this. 

Reduce unused code and plugins  

Similar to the above, ensuring that your site does not load unnecessary code that isn’t being used will mean that additional resources are not being used up. 

The same goes for plugins: ensure you review these, so you’re not loading extra plugins that are not doing anything useful. 

Consider green hosting  

While there are a lot of elements that you can control, there are some beyond your scope of reach. However, there is usually some form of mitigation action that you can and should take. 

Hosting is a perfect example, where you can choose a green provider to help reduce some of the carbon produced by simply running your website.  

At PLMR Genesis we use green hosting that uses renewable energy to power our servers.  

Use Local CDNs 

Utilising a CDN (Content Delivery Network) has a variety of benefits to your page load speed including more reliable and faster delivery, as well as decreasing overall server load time.  

Our final thoughts… 

Understanding and offsetting your carbon footprint overlaps considerably when it comes to implementing best practices around SEO. 

Optimising your site’s content, ensuring you have correct keyword placement, and having a clear understanding of what your users find valuable, in addition to measuring performance, results in the right audience landing on your website.  

Not only does this improve conversions to help reach your business goals, but it helps to make your website greener. 

Our digital experts are on hand to help with any questions you might have regarding SEO, as well as the wider team regarding our full range of services. 

Get in touch today. 

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