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How to Make Your Website More Environmentally Friendly

Reducing our carbon footprint is an enormous endeavor on a global scale – countries and individuals unite together to decrease carbon emissions. Given the fact how difficult it is to minimize carbon emissions, you might feel that your every day efforts are a drop in the ocean. On the contrary, every effort counts – each recycled plastic item, every website made greener, contributes to this worldwide struggle.

You read that one correctly – a website should be eco-friendly, too. One would think that since websites are digital assets, they don’t leave a carbon footprint. However, websites consume large amounts of energy to load for users and appear in search results.

Here’s how your website impacts the environment and how to reduce its carbon footprint.

What Impact Does a Website Have on the Environment

According to statistics, an average website produces 211 kg CO2 emissions annually. This is the equivalent of 1055 km of driving a car. And that is for just 1 website.

There are nearly 2 billion websites in the world, according to Statista. These make the Internet the sixth largest consumer of electricity on the planet. As a result, on a global scale, it produces around 2% of global CO2 emissions annually, equivalent to the aviation industry.

How to Measure Your Website Digital Footprint

There are more than one ways to calculate your own website’s carbon footprint online. As a website hosting company, whose responsibility is to take care of millions of websites worldwide, we’ve made our own Website Carbon Calculator that anyone can use.

We calculate your website score, based on the submitted web page weight, speed, energy used to load, and whether it’s hosted on a green host. Calculating your website’s carbon footprint  is not an exact science, that’s why our calculator gives you not just your result as a number, but also provides you with actionable tips on how to reduce the environmental impact of your site.

4 Ways To Make Your Website Greener

Once you’ve calculated your website’s carbon footprint, there are steps that you can take to reduce this number even further. Have a look at the actions below and think if you can implement the ones you haven’t already taken.

Choose a Green Hosting Provider

Having a green hosting partner for your website is the first step to an eco-friendly website. If you’re still deciding on your hosting provider, or want to check whether yours offers green hosting services, you can simply visit their website and look for green practices and initiatives, such as using renewable energy sources (e.g. wind and solar power) to power their servers, recycling or reducing waste, and similar commitments to the environment.

Why is that so important? Here are some statistics that show how important is the role of your hosting provider in creating and maintaining an environmentally friendly website.

An average website produces 4.61 grams of CO2 for every page view. However, at SiteGround, we dedicate much time and effort to host greener websites. As a result, for websites hosted with us, each site visit amounts to approximately 1.7 grams of CO2 emissions – nearly three times more carbon-efficient than the industry average. Here’s a glimpse of some of the things we do to achieve that:

  • 100% energy match

Our data center infrastructure is powered by the Google Cloud platform which matches 100% of the electricity consumed by the servers with energy from renewable sources. This strategy ensures high redundancy, optimal site speed and sustainability.

  • Data centers close to end users

SiteGround uses more than 10 data centers around the globe for hosting our clients’ websites. The closer that server is to the majority of their website visitors, the faster their website loads for users, and the less energy it consumes.

  • Servers run on the latest tech stack

We constantly optimize our server software and develop powerful tools to maximize efficiency and minimize resource usage. Some of these tools are our in-house built CDN that caches site content on multiple servers on different continents, custom PHP setup that improves page load by up to 30%, SuperCacher that enables full-page caching to make websites up to 5x faster.

Read more about SiteGround’s sustainability policies and practices in our Sustainability Report 2024.

Optimize Your Website Performance

If you’ve already using a green hosting provider for your website, that’s a solid foundation for having an environmentally friendly website. The next thing you need to think about is your website loading speed.

A slow website consumes more energy to load. If your website is slow, it will require a lot of processing power from the server, for every visitor that comes and tries to load it. Thus, your site produces more carbon emissions.

Improving your site’s loading times will result in less energy consumption, it will undeniably improve the user experience of your website visitors, and at the end of the day, you’ll have a more eco-friendly website. Here are some practical tips on how to increase your website loading speed:

  • Optimize your use of images

To improve your website’s loading speed, you need to optimize the way you use images on your site. First and foremost, consider what images you use and reduce them by removing the unnecessary ones and/or concentrating them into single files. Second, prioritize and load critical images first – those above-the-fold should load first, while non-critical images could use lazy-loading only after critical images or when they are needed. Next, compress images in size as much as possible, without compromising on their quality. Last, but not least, leverage caching for static images, in order to minimize redundant user requests.

  • Leverage website caching

To speed up your website even further, leverage one of the most powerful technologies – caching. What’s more, it can be applied on different levels of your website – on server and on browser level. Server-side caching reduces the website’s loading times by keeping a copy of the web page on the server. SiteGround clients take advantage of three levels of server-side caching – Nginx Direct Delivery for static content, Dynamic caching for dynamic content, and Memcached (for object caching). Browser-caching, on the other hand, can also significantly reduce your site loading times – when a user visits a website for more than once, their browser will load the cached version of the page, stored on their device.

  • Use a CDN

To speed up your website even more, use a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN distributes copies of your website to users in different geographical locations by loading your website from servers that are located closer to the end user. SiteGround clients leverage our free in-house built CDN which provides their websites with blazingly-fast loading speed, requires no configuration on their side, and is easy-to-manage. But, surely, there are multiple paid CDN products and options out there.

  • Clean up your website from unnecessary weight

Decluttering your website should be just as common as spring cleaning your home. There are some pages, plugins, themes, redirects, files, content and more that slow down your website and increase its carbon footprint. Here are a few things to keep in mind when cleaning up your website:

First, get rid of unused plugins and themes, because of the straight-forward rule: “the less code, the faster your site”. Next, remove outdated content and files from your site. These also take space on your site and further slow it down. Last, but not least, reduce unnecessary redirects that affect website speed by adding extra steps to the page load process – keep your pages and content a click away. To clean up your site even further, explore more techniques in our blog post.

Improve SEO Visibility

Even if your website is hosted with a green host and is optimized for performance, there are still other steps that you can take to make it even more environmentally friendly.

When people search for your website on search engines, that requires a lot of energy. In terms of greenhouse gases, one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2. To put that into perspective, an average car driven for 0.6 miles (1 km) produces as many greenhouse gases as a thousand Google searches.

That’s why if you optimize your website for search engines, the end users will spend less time searching for it, which in turn will result in less energy spent on server requests, and ultimately a more environmentally friendly website.

Let’s explore the top three SEO practices you can try in order to improve your website’s visibility:

  • Optimize your site structure and navigation

Your website structure is how you organize your pages and content into (sub)categories. Navigation, on the other hand, is how you guide your users to these pages and content. To optimize website structure and navigation, you need to have descriptive URLs with relevant keywords, logically structured and easy-to-follow navigation menu, and use internal links that lead to your own content and pages. All these will help you create a user-friendly site hierarchy, which in turn improves the way search engines crawl your site and its visibility in search engines results pages.

  • Target relevant keywords 

Keywords are what users put in search engines to find what they’re looking for, and at the same time keywords tell search engines what your website is all about. That’s why it’s important to use words wisely. Create clear and concise content that corresponds to what users search for and expect to see on your site. Research and use keywords that your audience looks for in order to match their search intent. Use synonyms and variations as well, in order to cover a wider range of their searches.

  • Audit your website regularly

Analyze the performance of your site regularly to make sure that your website is ranking well and is providing good user experience. For this purpose, you can use different tools, such as Google Analytics, or various SEO tools, that will help you monitor and identify areas for improvement. Common issues include duplicate content, broken links, or slow loading speed.

Strive for User-Friendly Design

Last, but not least, your website design should also be user-friendly in order to make your website more environmentally friendly. Why is design so important? When users land on your site and it provides them with an optimal user experience, this mitigates energy usage and thus, carbon footprint. Let’s explore some effective design strategies:

  • Minimalistic design

When it comes to website design – less is more. Make sure you provide your users with what they are looking for in a user-friendly manner. Avoid unnecessary assets and too many visuals that will distract the users from what they’re looking for. Include only visuals that will somehow benefit your users in their end goal on your site. Keep your design clean in order to reduce page size, your website’s rendering and thus, carbon emissions. 

  • Easy navigation

Ensure your website navigation and finding what users are looking for is easy and can be done in a few steps (clicks). Help your users way-find your content easily by structuring your navigation menus with their user experience in mind. Including internal links to your products and services will also allow users and search engines alike to identify key information easily. Intuitive navigation makes visitors spend less time and energy finding what they require, accomplish tasks with reduced steps and thereby lowers carbon emissions.

  • Mobile and desktop friendly

Another aspect of the user experience is to ensure your visitors can do all of the above just as easily and quickly as on any device they use. Whether they visit your website from a mobile or a desktop device, there shouldn’t be an issue for them to navigate or reach what they’re looking for. What’s more, mobile devices use less processing power than larger devices. Making your website fully responsive helps reduce energy consumption, improve performance and create a seamless user experience.

Wrap Up

Having an environmentally friendly website is just as important as your other sustainable daily practices, such as reducing plastic usage, using public transportation, recycling waste, and others.

However, creating and maintaining a green website takes time and effort. That’s why it’s important to have a reliable green hosting partner like SiteGround on your side, in order to not be alone in the journey to an eco-friendly website.

Dilyana Kodjamanova

Digital Marketing Specialist

Keen on burying herself in reading and writing both technical and non-technical content.

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Comments ( 6 )

author avatar

Larissa Dulat

Jun 07, 2024

What an intriguing article title and fascinating and helpful article! I am all into sustainability and never thought that a website could be made with the environment in mind.

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author avatar

Dilyana Kodjamanova

Jun 11, 2024

Great to hear you found it helpful! We know that a digital footprint is not always top of mind for website owners, so as a green hosting provider, we do our best to take some of that load off our clients by constantly optimizing our hosting services to make websites on our platform much more efficient. We wanted to take this opportunity to raise awareness about the topic and provide more tips for anyone interested.

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Leicester Websites

Jun 17, 2024

Great article! It's fantastic to see the focus on making websites environmentally friendly. The tips on optimizing energy efficiency and choosing green hosting providers are very helpful.

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Lina Asenova Siteground Team

Jun 19, 2024

Thank you for your feedback. It’s great to see that the article resonates with readers who care about the environment as much as we do!

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Abid

Jun 18, 2024

I recently came across your blog and found the information to be incredibly insightful. The content presented was new to me, and I greatly appreciate the thorough research and clear presentation. Keep up the excellent work!

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author avatar

Lina Asenova Siteground Team

Jun 19, 2024

We’re thrilled to hear that you found our blog insightful. It’s always rewarding to know that our efforts in providing valuable information are appreciated. Stay tuned for more content, and feel free to reach out if there’s anything specific you’d like to ask us.

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