How to Reduce Your Website Carbon Footprint With SEO

Does the Energy Consumption of My Website Matter?

Information and Communication Technologies account for 6-10% of global power consumption, or 4% of our greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s increasing year-over-year.

When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, internet use accounts for 3.7% of global emissions, which is the equivalent of all air traffic in the world! This figure is expected to double by 2025 – that is if we don’t include the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In other words, the internet is responsible for an average of 400kg of CO2 emitted/person each year.It takes 16 years for a grown tree to offset this amount of carbon.

The good news is, we can all contribute to making the internet a more energy-efficient place. And as website owners, we should be conscious of our environmental impact.

What Carbon Footprint Does My Website Leave?

The average web page produces 1.76 grams CO2 per page view – or 211 kg CO2 per year when viewed by 10,000 people every month. This is equivalent to the CO2 footprint of drinking two coffees a day for around 5 years (or a total of ~3 600 cups of coffee). Yes, that’s right, coffee lovers!

If you want to check more precisely what the carbon footprint of your website is, you can estimate it with the Carbon Calculator for free.

The energy consumption of your website is strongly affected by many factors such as user experience, how heavy the image files are, how good your loading times are, etc. Almost all of these are a subject of search engine optimization! So let’s dive deeper into the exact steps you could take towards a more eco-friendly website:

How to Improve the Energy Efficiency of My Website?

Focus on High-Quality Content
Include truly valuable content on your website, so people don’t wander back and forward, looking for the information they need. To achieve this make sure to:

Аnswer all of the questions the user might have (check top-ranking competitors, People also Ask, the Knowledge Panel, forums such as Quora and Reddit, and even Wikipedia);
Don’t repeat information – we don’t want the user to waste time scanning through vague and repetitive text;
Aim towards content depth, not word count – it is important what you say, not how long it is.

Improve the Overall Page Speed

💡 How to check your page speed: Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. It will also give you general insights on what you can improve on your website.

If you want a green website, the most important thing to take into account is your site speed. The less time visitors have to wait for your pages to load, the less energy and CO2 emissions are used.

Also, low page speed indicates that you are loading too many or heavy resources – this is a problem of its own and requires special attention, both in terms of UX and fighting carbon emissions.

Optimize Images

💡 How to check the number, size, and format of images on a page: Open a page on your website -> Go to Chrome Dev Tools (Ctrl+Shift+I shortcut) -> Click on “Network” in the top menu -> Put a checkmark on “Images”

As you can see, all of these images on the WWF homepage are in the jpeg image format.

Images have a serious impact on the weight of your website (and so do videos!). Take into consideration whether you actually need all of them and whether they bring any value to the user.

To optimize the images you find valuable, you can consider two tactics:

Using modern formats such as WebP. Images in WebP format are 26% smaller compared to PNGs.
Implement lazy-loading of images – which means to download images only if they are actually be needed. Be careful, though, while when done right it can improve your page load time and page weight, the wrong implementation of this tactic could bring you bad technical consequences. Consult with an expert if you’re considering lazy-loading of assets.
There are also some alternative approaches when it comes to heavy assets. For example, a service worker can cache some of the resources so they don’t have to be downloaded and requested from the server each time a user opens the website. This is something closer to Progressive Web Apps.

An SEO service partner can help you choose the best option for your business needs, while also bringing environmental benefits.

Have a Reasonable Amount of JavaScript

💡 How to check how your website looks like without JavaScript: Download the Web Developer extension -> Open your website -> Open the extension -> Click on “Disable Javascript” -> Refresh the website

With JavaScript disabled, even the main navigation of the WWF website isn’t working.

JavaScript increases the carbon footprint of a website greatly since it requires additional processing done on the user’s device. It is also very code-heavy.

Not to mention the excessive amount of Javascript is a hot topic in the SEO community because it can sometimes make the “life” of the Googlebot harder.

Here is what you can do to improve your website’s Javascript SEO:

Use Javascript only when you really need to
Minify JS files
Remove unused Javascript

Be Careful With Fonts

💡 How to check how many fonts you are using: Open a page on your website -> Go to Chrome Dev Tools (Ctrl+Shift+I shortcut) -> Click on “Network” in the top menu -> Put a checkmark on “Font”

One of the most frequent problems we encounter during technical SEO audits is the messy usage of fonts. They are actually quite heavy and therefore affect your website’s carbon footprint and page speed seriously.

Here is what you can do to optimize your fonts:

Have fewer font families – quite often we see that websites load many font families but actually, only one of them is used
Use fewer font variations – do you really need each font in all the different weights?
Use the WOFF2 font format, which improves font compression by 24% on average

Use an Eco-Friendly Hosting Service

A lot of energy is typically expended at the data center and in the transmission of data. Carefully choosing your web hosting can save a lot of this energy expenditure. If you google “green web hosting” you will surely encounter a lot of providers.

Go Green With Your Website

SEO is not only about increasing traffic on the site but also about improving UX, being helpful, and reducing the impact that the site has on the environment.

Many of these eco-friendly recommendations will also boost your CWV score, which is an important factor for Google. If you want to learn more, check out our guide on how to optimize for Core Web Vitals.


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