How to calculate the footprint of your B2B website 

Paul Crabtree B2B Audiences, B2B Campaigns, B2B Creative, B2B Storytelling, Industrial, Professional Services, Technology

At Velo, we’ve conducted a study into how to make a website as sustainable as possible.  

The reality is, carbon is emitted even just by hosting and serving your website. And, after all, we want people to visit our website and then engage with the content.  

It is not about zero emissions; it is about doing the right thing to reduce them. There’s a lot that to consider — from how it’s coded through to how and where its hosted.  Read on to make small differences that add up to make a big impact: 


Where you host matters


Perhaps one of the more overt starting points would be choosing a hosting provider that is powered by renewable energy.  Ultimately, servers need power, and many get very hot and therefore needing cooling.   

For many B2B marketers, this decision may be owned by the IT team, but often cloud-based hosts, like AWS, provide these options as standard — however they may come with some additional costs. For the more adventurous, there are emerging innovative options, such as Microsoft’s ocean-cooled facility, which we expect to see more of in the future.   

What you host matters too


Perhaps fortunately, most factors that drive carbon emissions from your website are also factors that hamper your technical SEO performance. Over the years the decision between optimising for Google or for the people visiting your website has raged on. The approach is the same here: a compromise. 

Ultimately, you are trying to reduce the file size of each page that is available. Many researchers have invented arbitrary targets of 2MB per page, but this discounts the purpose, content and length of the page.   

We advocate a more pragmatic approach designed for B2B marketers who need to make a big impact. Have larger file sizes for your most high-impact pages but, for those that are less vital, we would advise you look to reduce them.  

For example, don’t compromise on your home page, but for those like “meet the team”, privacy notices or individual articles in your blog, think again. These long-tail articles add up to a lot. 

To reduce the carbon footprint of a page, watch out for those pesky items increasing its file size. Some might be less obvious to spot than others: 

 

  • Videos – look to stream — not download — and think about length. It might sound obvious, but a shorter video has a smaller file size. We do not advocate removing them all together, as their impact on visitors is too great to compromise. 

 

  • Images – use WebP format for images rather than JPEG on web pages to reduce the file sizes between 30%-50%. There will be no significant loss of quality but, by doing so, you will lower the carbon footprint by improving the page load speed. 

 

  • Excessive code – over the years, particularly in WordPress, code blocks can be added to your site structure in the theme. Remove commented out blocks you no longer need and minify downloadable scripts, such as CSS or JavaScript. 

 

  • Functionality – consider the interactivity in use on the page. Does it serve a purpose? Does it add to the story or the impact? Avoid animation for animation’s sake, unless you are using techniques such as GIFs. 

 

It is simple to calculate the page weight of your page; you just need to calculate the file size. Tools like Google Search Console can help, as they facilitate speed tests which reveal your file size. The chances are that you will already be using it to aid SEO, so this can be built into your existing effort.  

For a more in-depth test, websites like Ecograder can grade your website based on its page speed, findability, design, user experience and green hosting. Ecograder also offers tips on improving your score by utilising code from The Green Web Foundation and Google Lighthouse’s open-source page metrics. 

Can you achieve any form of accreditation?

There are a number of embryonic schemes emerging and, for those who produce an ESG report, including details of your efforts is a wise choice. Resources include the Green Web Foundation, however, measuring the average file size of pages and multiplying that by the number of visitors will give you relevant metrics to show progress. 

What is a good result?

This is individual and based on the size and purpose of your site. It goes without saying, but your ambition should be as good as it can be. But, ultimately, unless all your hosting is on renewable energy, there will be some emissions. At Velo, we’re working on an active ambition to make our site better as the traffic grows. 

Implementing an offsetting strategy, such as using Ecologi, is a route we’ve decided to follow to negate this, as well as making choices to minimise impact as best as we can. 

What to do now?

No CEO or Finance Director will thank you for ploughing resources into this today without being able to show a return. Our recommendation is to build this thinking into each wave of improvement you implement, or as part of amendments made to improve SEO performance. Quite logical, really! 

To find out more about what we’re doing around ESG — including taking the carbon out of B2B marketing, read our latest Sustainability report here.

  

 

Paul Crabtree

Paul Crabtree

Managing Director

An IDM-qualified senior sales and marketing professional who has held board positions in various marketing agencies since 2005. Although he claims not to look old enough, the emerging silver locks tell a different story. As MD, founder and owner of Velo, his role is to lead the agency maintaining our quality standards to be the level that means we continue to be built on recommendation. He has a particular focus on new business, overseeing all our client relationships and leading our strategy function to make sure that our team has the skills and capabilities that our clients need, so we continue always craft great work to be proud of. Find him on LinkedIn here.