The internet uses lots of energy
Streaming services, gaming, online retailers, and search engines consume power with every byte. Compared to sites with thousands of pages, the websites I build are small potatoes but they do contribute to the overall usage. What’s that old adage? Think globally, act locally. Let’s do that.
Energy-saving websites reduce their carbon footprints in a variety of ways. Writing copy efficiently to reduce redundancy, making sure images and media are correctly sized and compressed, and optimizing crawl settings to reduce search engine bot activity; each step you take will help decrease your website’s emissions.
Internet power consumption
Website data centers, search engines, and website content are three things we can control. Let’s look at each of these, how they use power, and how you can have a green website.
Website hosting companies
Choosing an efficient website host is a good place to start. Internet hosts use electricity in their data centers to power servers. The buildings those servers live in use a lot of air conditioning, and storing and delivering data all over the world expends electricity. Energy-efficient hosting companies have data centers scattered throughout their audience’s geographical footprint so they can send data shorter distances.
They way hosts schedule their servers’ power consumption also affects how much energy they use. Do they power their servers 100% 24/7 even though there are periods of lower usage? That can make a difference in how much energy it takes to serve your web page.
The Green Web Directory is a listing of hosting companies that use energy-efficient practices. Happily, my host (SiteGround) is listed. Their post, Green Web Hosting And SiteGround’s Commitment To Sustainability discusses their efforts, which include keeping their software lightweight and updated, running backups at times when there’s less internet traffic, and building partnerships with other environmentally-minded organizations.
Search engines use a lot of energy to constantly crawl the web. When a search engine crawls your site, it uses fuel. Of course: the larger your site, the more it uses. You can reduce this consumption by streamlining your settings.
WordPress is a powerful tool, with options for many website scenarios, but not all websites need all the tools. In fact, many websites don’t use most of WordPress’s tools. So, you can hide the code you’re not using so search engines don’t spend their time on it. Shortlinks, various types of feeds, and media pages are a few things you can (normally) safely disable. With each feed you disable, you decrease the code search engines crawl, and reduce the carbon footprint of your website. I’ll talk more about his in a bit.
How web content can affect power usage
You can streamline your data to lower the amount of work search engines have to do on it.
Write efficient copy to avoid redundancy. It’s tempting to post more and more, thinking that it’ll increase the chances of being noticed but that can easily backfire on you. If your copy is watered down, readers may get frustrated by how vague it is and move on to other sites. Also, if you have three posts on the same subject you’re competing with yourself for attention. Tighten it up: make your content worth spending time on. It’ll reduce your footprint and be more attractive to readers.
Optimize your media. Don’t use images that are 3000 px wide, as there are few scenarios where that’s needed. Choosing the appropriate size and file type can significantly decrease your site’s database. Host videos on another platform and link to them instead of storing them in your database.
Turn off feeds for crawling efficiency
The Yoast SEO plugin allows you to turn off feeds and features, telling search engines to ignore those parts of your site. Every site is different, and knowing what your site needs is imperative. For example, if you have a blog site with only one author, you can safely turn off author feeds. But if your site has multiple authors, you’ll want to keep that feature enabled.
Use the Website Carbon Calculator to see your site’s efficiency rating. I tested mine while writing this post and got a B rating. This is without turning off feeds for crawling efficiency.
There are plenty of things you can do to make sure your website is as green as possible. Choose a green host, generate quality content, and optimize crawl settings. When I build your website, I’ll help you with all of these.
Carbon footprint – the amount of carbon compounds emitted by a person or entity, based on their activities
Data center – a building where servers are stored which, in turn, store data
Shortlinks – a condensed version of a URL; a shorthand of sorts
The Green Web Directory – an index of hosting companies that use energy-efficient practices