Date posted

13 Mar 2023

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A guide to sustainable SEO and why it matters

Sustainable SEO builds on the discipline of sustainable UX/Design, where a website’s sustainability is improved by design or UX optimisations. The aim is to reduce a website’s impact on the environment with SEO practices.

There are a number of ways that you can ensure that your site is running as sustainably as possible:

  • Improve your page load speed by reducing image size or adding browser caching to use less power when loading a page.
  • Perform content audits to remove poor quality pages, helping users to find key information in one interaction vs two or three.
  • Use the robots.txt file to prevent URLs being crawled and indexed by search engines, limiting the impact on resources.
  • Use carbon conscious systems such as green hosting providers or tools like Sitebulb that have a carbon offset programme.

The environmental cost of digital activities

Internet use accounts for 3.7% of all global greenhouse gas emissions – that’s the equivalent of all air traffic in the world. This figure is also expected to double by 2025. 

At the start of last year Google also highlighted they were considering reducing the frequency of webpage crawls, in order to improve sustainability.

There are now platforms like Website Carbon Calculator which can give you an indication of how ‘green’ your site is. However, these testers do little to inform the users of how poor SEO foundations, such as crawl efficiency, can affect a website’s carbon emissions. 

As knowledge of the internet’s pressure on resources grow, SEO will have an important role in ensuring brands understand how to optimise their site for the sustainable internet of the future.

Improving your SEO sustainability

To improve your SEO sustainability, there are a number of actions you can take:

  • Test your site on a platform such as the Website Carbon Calculator to get a benchmark figure of performance.
  • Conduct a full technical audit of your site, defining priorities on what will help make your site more sustainable, including:
    • Crawl optimisation for larger sites
    • Page load speed/ image optimisations
  • Create a sustainable SEO roadmap for actions starting with the lowest effort and highest impact tasks.
  • Perform a Keep, Revise, Delete audit to establish if all of the content on your site needs to be there, or whether it could be condensed down.
  • Audit your internal systems and ways of working. Using green hosting providers or tools helps to limit carbon emissions again.

If you have any questions, or need any support, arrange an audit with our team today.