How SEO Can Reduce Your Impact On The Planet

How SEO Can Reduce Your Impact On The Planet

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising a website’s content, technical foundations and functionality to meet best practices for ranking in search engine result pages for specific keywords. SEO is all about creating the very best result for someone searching for what you can offer. You’re probably thinking ‘why are you telling me this? I know what SEO is!’.


Well, you might know what it is, but have you ever thought about how SEO can have an impact on things other than just organic search-driven sales or visibility? It makes sense that since SEO activity impacts a whole website, that it might benefit other channels. There’s some great examples of how SEO does this in this brilliant twitter thread from Carl Hendy:



But that’s not what we’re here to talk about. Hopefully you’ll know that a huge part of what we do and why we exist at Hello Earth is doing what we can to help reduce the negative impact business has on the planet. Something we’re working on is investigating just how much digital carbon we create by being an agency, both by ourselves and for our clients.


What is Digital Carbon?


Digital carbon is essentially the carbon emissions created by all things digital – for example, search engines like Google, websites, emails, social media sites, which all need somewhere to store data, a bunch of powered servers to actually run and people to maintain these enormous servers. Sadly, storing data in the cloud or using ‘cloud-based servers’ doesn’t actually mean it’s in the clouds… it still needs somewhere to go. Every website contributes to this huge carbon-generating system that powers our everyday lives in an ever-increasingly digital world.


What does this have to do with SEO?


Every action that a search engine bot has to take, every image it has to load, every redirect, every link, all needs resource to load and generates digital carbon. A lot of activity that is involved with optimising for SEO is about how the website functions, usability and speed – which means carrying out activity that benefits organic visibility of your site also helps to improve the digital carbon footprint your site creates.



Here are some ways to use SEO practices to reduce your carbon footprint:


Optimising images


Resource needed to load and store image data can be minimised by reducing image size and compressing images. Smaller images require less resources to load and crawl, and improve pagespeed, which also reduces carbon generated. 


Reduce Loading


A lot of SEOs will look at pagespeed as an element of Core Web Vitals – while this is important, it’s also worth doing to help reduce your digital carbon footprint. If a website has less code to load and works efficiently, it can significantly reduce the amount of carbon produced. 


Implement Lazy loading 


Lazy loading essentially means you can instruct only parts of pages to load until a user hits a certain point on the page that triggers the next area. This means you’re not forcing the site to load an entire page every time a user lands on it, and reduces the amount of resource required.


Reduce unused code and plugins


Much like the example above, making your site load a bunch of code that isn’t being used is basically just wasting effort on everyone’s part – check your site for unused javascript and fonts, as these are the worst offenders. The same goes of unused plugins – make sure you’re not loading extra plugins that aren’t doing anything helpful. 


Using a local CDN and green hosting platform 


If you have control over your CDN and hosting, choosing a local CDN and a greener hosting platform can help to mitigate some of the carbon produced by your site simply running.



Implement strategic SEO!


Implementing a proper SEO strategy across technical, content and trust, such as optimising site content, understanding your users and the stage they’re at in the buyer funnel, setting target keywords for key pages and measuring performance all add up to ensuring the right audience land on your site. Not only does this benefit conversion and in turn revenue, but also means you’ve not got loads of traffic loading your site, realising it’s not what they want and leaving again. Reducing unnecessary traffic and making the traffic you do get worthwhile benefits both your wallet and your planet!


So, if you’re not convinced on what SEO can do for your revenue, perhaps it’s worth considering how it can help you do your bit to protect the planet instead. 


If you’re looking for help with your own SEO, have any questions or want to chat to us, get in touch