Improve your SEO ranking by making your website environmentally-friendly

SEO (Search engine optimization) ranking is something that all website owners are chasing and can’t get enough of. We all want to be listed as number one on Google, and we do almost everything in our power to get there.

In this article, we will talk about a different approach that can benefit your website in the long run, and ultimately give your website a better ranking than it already has.

What is environmentally-friendly web design?

Environmentally-friendly web design is when your website has a lower environmental impact than other websites. Every time someone visits your website they have to download the data required to see the content of your page. Each KB of data causes pollution either by servers having to work, your device is powered on, or the many routers in-between you and the data center hosting the website. 

But there are ways that you can lower the amount of data that your visitors have to download each time they visit your website, and altogether this will cause less pollution. One of the ways you can lower the environmental impact is by using a green web hosting company that only runs on 100% renewable energy. Another way is to optimize all the images on your website and thereby lower the page-weight of each individual page on your website.

A long story short: Environmentally friendly web design is a design that has been undergoing thorough investigation and thinking to minimize the environmental impact it has every time someone visits it.

Why does an environmentally friendly web design improve my SEO?

Have you ever heard this phrase: “A website should be loading within 2-3 seconds, or your visitors leave”?. Over the years people have become impatient and if a website is not served within 2-3 seconds you risk they will leave your website for another even though that will take even longer. This is something search engines such as Google are aware of, and that is why websites with low loading speeds are prioritized over websites with slow loading speeds.

When looking at the majority of websites today they all have a few things in common. They use large images, videos, large themes, bloat with unnecessary content, and much more. As our internet speeds become faster we tend to build more demanding websites, and that is a sad trend. Especially because you both hurt the environment with unnecessary animations, unreasonable large images, etc, and all for what? The only thing it does is hurt your SEO ranking because your website becomes heavier and therefore takes even longer to load.

By making your website environmentally friendly you will lower your website’s overall weight and improve the loading speed and in the end, get awarded by search engines such as Google. 

How can I improve my SEO ranking by making my website environmentally friendly?

There are many things you can do to make your website more environmentally friendly and to give you a few idéas we have made a list to inspire you.

1: Switch to a web host running on 100% renewable energy.

The first step to making your website more environmentally friendly is to make sure the company and data center hosting your website is running on 100% renewable energy. Even though this step won’t bring down the overall weight of your website, it will make sure your website isn’t contributing to businesses running on fossil fuels. By making sure your website is hosted using green energy, you set an example, and the power needed to keep your website available 24/7 won’t be causing pollution because of fossil fuels or something similar.

2: Optimize images and videos on your website.

An important step towards making your website environmentally friendly is to optimize images and videos on your website. Images and especially videos are the heaviest objects we can put on a website and when looking at the size alone, then you can write ca. 100.000 words before it will take up the same size as an average-sized image.

If you take 10 websites on the internet today and look at the images you will easily see that most won’t optimize the images for the web. This means most images will be served to you as 1MB files or larger when they in fact could be sized correctly, saved to the WebP format, and compressed to lower the file size. By sizing and compressing your images correctly you can easily save your visitors between 60-85% of the data.

3: Don’t load videos unless the user clicks play.

Like images, videos are large files and if you load and play them automatically to each and every visitor, then you are causing unnecessary data to be downloaded. Instead, you should wait to load your videos until the visitor is clicking on them to ensure that no data is being loaded unless it is wanted. A rule of thumb (Not exact calculation) is that for every GB your visitor has to download 0,81kW is being used.

4: Remove unnecessary bloat and tracking software.

Many websites contain bloat such as pop up’s, ads, multiple tracking software, unnecessary JavaScript files, tons of unused CSS, and much much more. A good place to start lowering your website’s environmental impact is by removing some of this bloat. Go through every item on your website and ask yourself: “Do I really need this and does it serve an important purpose on my website”. If the answer is no, remove it and save your visitors the data. 

5: Use a dark theme.

In 2018 there were over 1 billion smartphones on the market worldwide using OLED screens which are known for turning off the power when the screen is black. This means you can save your users lots of power on their devices if you just switch to a dark/black theme instead of the traditional white theme. 

OLED screens are smart, and every pixel is lighted by itself. This means if parts of your screen are black it won’t be using any energy since the LEDs will be turned completely off. Now imagine a scenario where we have a black screen with white text. Only the white text will be using energy since the rest of the screen will be turned completely off.

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of a dark theme, then please consider reading our in-depth article talking about this here: Dark-mode lowers power consumption on OLED devices.

Wrapping up

So, in this article, we have gone through how you can improve your SEO ranking by making your website environmentally friendly. By now you probably have an idea of how you can lower your website’s weight and thereby improve your loading speeds. Lowering your loading speeds will help you claim your spot at the top and please remember that this is not an exact science. You don’t go to the top just because you make your website environmentally friendly, but it is a step along the way.

A good way you can check your website’s page speed and get a good insight into where you need to improve is by using Google Pagespeed. They will provide you valuable information about what you can do better and listening to them might not be a bad idea since they are Google after all.

Before stopping we would like to invite every one of you to participate in the debate with your input below. Do you feel making your website more environmentally friendly has improved your SEO ranking? Do you think it was hard to make these changes or do you maybe have something valuable to add to this article?. No matter what is on your heart, please feel free to comment and please share this article with your friends, family, friends, and coworkers. Only together can we make the internet more sustainable (Environmentally friendly and ethical).

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Michael Andersen
Michael Andersen

Michael Andersen is the author of Sustainable Web Design In 20 Lessons and the co-founder of Sustainable WWW (World-wide-web), an organization teaching sustainable practices. With a passion for web design and the environment, Michael solves puzzles to make the internet more sustainable.

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