Here at Website Builder Expert, we love making websites. From testing website builders to experimenting with our favorite ecommerce templates, the internet is our happy place. But the internet has a dark side which might surprise you – we’re talking about its environmental impact.
Strangely, this is an issue that isn’t widely broadcast, but we think it deserves to be shouted about – loudly.
For starters, the internet is thought to contribute about 2% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Even more worrying is the effect of websites that we use every day. For example, the music video for the song “Despacito” burned as much energy as 40,000 US homes use in a year. But we doubt that anyone has ever hesitated over the “play” button because of YouTube’s carbon footprint, because, well – who knew, right?
Fellow website builders, our time has come to step up and make the web a greener place!
We’ll walk you through the three ways you can make your website more eco-friendly, plus some super easy tips for reducing your online carbon footprint in everyday life – all so that you can continue to enjoy building and using the web guilt-free.
One of the biggest culprits behind the internet’s carbon footprint is web hosting. Web hosting works by hosting a website’s files and information in data centers – all websites need hosting to appear online.
Data centers are basically buildings that house computers storing all those websites’ data, and there are 8 million data centers worldwide.
The problem with this is data centers use a ton of electricity, and generate a lot of heat, meaning that they rely on energy-sucking cooling systems to prevent the servers overheating. All of this adds up to data centers generating the same amount of carbon emissions as the global airline industry!
However, there is good news in the form of green web hosting. This is where hosting companies are committed to reducing – and even negating – their carbon footprint.
They do this through using renewable energies to power their data centers, or donating to renewable energy programs to combat their carbon footprint.
The best green web host is Green Geeks, which offsets its carbon footprint by 300%. It invests three times the amount of energy it pulls from the grid into renewable energy through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation – pretty impressive!
The best green web hosts combine environmentally friendly hosting methods with power and top notch hosting features. Choosing green web hosting doesn’t mean you have to plunge your website back into the slow, dark digital ages of the mid-90s.
For example, Green Geeks still manages to provide 99.9% uptime, offer a range of hosting packages, and cater to customers from over 150 different countries – all while maintaining its eco-friendly approach.
Hosting forms the foundation of every website – you simply can’t build an eco-friendly website unless you start with a green hosting provider!
Find out more
But what are the best eco-friendly hosts? Find out in our review of the 6 Best Green Web Hosting Providers and take your first step towards a greener web!
This is a golden rule of website building whether you’re an eco-warrior or a climate change denier – websites need to be fast to be successful. It’s a fact. And it also happens to be better for the environment, too.
When a page is taking ages to load, it’s not only boring for your visitors – it’s also sucking up energy from the server and using electricity. So, the quicker your website loads, the less environmental impact it has.
There are some super simple ways to improve your website’s load speeds – here are just a few to get started on…
- Find out how fast your site actually loads, using a tool such as Pingdom or GTmetrix
- Reduce the size of your images using a compressor tool such as Kraken
- Assess your hosting provider to see if it’s causing your site to drag (or even crash)
- Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) such as CloudFlare to direct requests to the visitor’s closest server
- Fix broken links and redirects – try out Screaming Frog to help spot them
- Use lazy loading, where the content above the fold loads faster than the rest of the page
If you’ve already done these things, and are feeling tech savvy, you can also minify your code. Minification is a process that minimizes code and script files on your site, and is a major way of improving site speed.
Find out more
Are you on the right hosting plan? Most people choose shared hosting, but if you outgrow your plan it can cause slow-loading pages and even site crashes!
Check out our Shared Hosting vs VPS Hosting comparison to see which is right for you.
This section is all about making your site easily findable and satisfying users quickly. Why? Well, it reduces the amount of searches and sites people are loading in one go, which in turn reduces the amount of energy being used each time they land on a new page.
Did you know that one Google search can generate up to seven grams of CO2? That’s about half the amount generated by boiling a kettle, which doesn’t sound so bad. Until you imagine actually boiling a kettle for every two Google searches you make in a day, and then suddenly you’re in a lot of hot water!
Of course, you can’t reduce Google’s carbon footprint single-handedly, but you can try to give users what they’re looking for, so that they don’t have to keep searching and loading new pages over and over again. Also, it’s better for your conversions!
To reduce the number of people bouncing off your site and back to Google:
- Prioritize key information so that it’s easy to find in as few clicks as possible
- Make your site mobile-friendly, as 60% of Google searches are carried out on mobile
- Structure your pages with headings and avoid huge walls of text, as this can scare impatient visitors away
Improving site speed is also a massive factor in keeping people on your site, so by combining these tactics with those we talked about earlier, you’ll have a winning – and eco-friendly – combination.
We’ve outlined three main ways that you can build and run greener websites. But what about when you’re simply surfing the web for enjoyment or work?
Here are some tips for staying greener in your everyday life on the web:
- Use an alternative search engine such as Ecosia, which uses its profits to plant trees and runs on 100% renewable energy.
- Maybe don’t send that polite but essentially useless “Thank you” email – think before you send, or go to talk to that person face to face! One email emits 10g of CO2 – that means a single email has the same carbon footprint as a standard plastic bag!
- Lower your monitor brightness levels, or use dark mode, to reduce the amount of power needed to light up your screen.
- Download Netflix shows instead of streaming them – as well as saving a bit of energy, it also means you’ll be entertained even when you have no signal!
- Go directly to websites instead of Googling them first. A lot of the time, we use Google like an online taxi to quickly take us exactly where we want to go. Instead of typing in “Twitter” – or even “Website Builder Expert” – save your most-visited sites to your toolbar, or enter the URL directly to save energy!
Other simple actions include reducing screen time, turning off your devices once you’ve finished using them, and holding off on that tempting new phone upgrade a little longer. These are all effective ways of reducing your digital carbon footprint without radically overhauling your normal life.
We’ve outlined the steps you can take to build more eco-friendly websites, from finding top-notch green hosting providers to the unsung benefits of good SEO.
The best part is that most of these tactics are the best thing for your website anyway, such as increasing loading speeds and reducing bounce rates. Turns out, what’s good for your visitors is good for your site, and is good for the planet too!
We also whizzed through some easy ways for you to reduce your online carbon footprint in your everyday life – so that even when you’re taking a break from website building, you’re still doing your bit for the big blue ball we call home.
Whether you’re launching a business website or searching for funny cat videos, remember these simple steps – and whatever you do online, make it green!