Nowadays, companies need to actively address their environmental impact and assume responsibility for the pollution they generate. One way to help reduce their global carbon emissions is by looking at the environmental footprint associated with their digital presence. Websites, especially those with high traffic, generate a significant amount of carbon emissions through their server energy consumption and data transmission that could be lowered. To address this concern, various tools and strategies have emerged. In this article, you will see seven Google Analytics 4 (GA4) strategies to reduce your website’s carbon footprint. Therefore, by implementing these strategies, you will not only gain insights into your website’s performance but also actively contribute to the reduction of its environmental impact.
1. Identify and Optimize High Traffic Pages
With Google Analytics 4, you can see which are the pages that get the more viewed on your website and have a higher traffic. This information can be found in one of the engagement reports (the pages and screens one) when ordering the pages by the number of views. Therefore, you can optimize these high traffic pages by compressing files, including images and videos (Bordage, 2019) or removing some elements such as pop-ups or animations (Inventiv-IT, 2023).
Also, if your pages contain videos, you can create and look at events like “video completed” or “click videos”. If your videos are not viewed as much compared to the number of users, you could delete them from your website in order to curtail server load and overall energy consumption.
Another way to optimize these pages to reduce your website’s carbon footprint, is to use lazy loading: it is when an image is only loading when its location becomes visible on the screen.
These changes on your pages could also help to improve the User Experience (UX) of your clients. Indeed, avoiding pop-ups makes the navigation on a website more enjoyable for a user. In addition, optimized images reduce loading time, and some studies show that 57% of users will leave a website if they must wait more than 3 seconds to have information (Douyon, 2022).
Another strategy to make your website eco-friendlier is to implement a dark mode that will require fewer resources than a white-themed website. This will result in indirectly lowering energy use because fewer pixels are illuminated on the screen of the users. In addition, the user will be able to choose the colour theme depending on their preference or time of the day, which is a good thing to improve their experience on your website.
2. Identify and Remove Error 404 Pages
You can identify the pages that generate errors in the pages and screens report by searching for the unavailable pages your website has. As presented on this screenshot of the Google Merchandise Store, we can observe three pages that are currently unavailable and where they are on the website.
Error 404 pages, signalled by GA, not only disrupt user experiences, and can frustrate your customers, but also cause several unnecessary server requests, thus elevating energy consumption. By identifying and then eliminating or redirecting these error pages, you can remove useless server requests, leading to a decrease in your website’s carbon emissions.
3. A/B Testing to Evaluate More Eco-Friendly Designs
Thanks to GA4, you can conduct A/B testing, allowing comparisons between different versions of your website pages. Then, you can try an eco-friendlier design versus the actual design of one of your pages to see if there are any changes concerning the engagement of your users.
An eco-friendly design is a more minimalist design because it reduces the amount of data that needs to be loaded. It can also be preferred by users: “less is more” (Citron noir). You can also remove pop-ups if you had some. However, you will need to track some events such as the average time on the page or the number of pages per session the user goes on in order to see if users are engaging as much on a more minimalist design. Then, you will be able to make decisions with the results of your tests.
4. Campaign Optimization for Targeted Traffic
With GA4, you can efficiently analyze and manage advertising campaigns for targeted traffic to minimize a website’s carbon footprint. The objective is to identify and prioritize the most impactful campaigns that draw in specific and pertinent visitors. For instance, the better your conversion rate is, the better your campaign was because they attracted users that wanted to buy the product you were promoting. Through a detailed analysis of audience segments (demography, geography, traffic sources, technology, etc.), the optimization process ensures that the website connects with individuals more likely to engage with your products or content. Therefore, it will have an impact on your website’s carbon footprint. Indeed, if you target people that will not engage with your website, it will lead to unnecessary visits and result into resources wastage and a higher energy consumption on servers.
In addition, this optimization will improve the user experience because you will show content that is more aligned with users’ interests.
5. Create Sustainability Goals and Monitor Them
Setting sustainability goals in your GA4 is vital for a constant improvement regarding your environmental impact. These goals can be as the following:
– Increase the engagement with dark mode: encourage users to adopt dark mode for energy savings. Track the number of users that use this mode and set a goal to increase its adoption rate. For instance, you will want 20% of users that will use the dark mode of your website and you can increase this percentage with time.
– Reduced page load times: decrease page load times to improve user experience and reduce energy consumption. Use GA4 to track the average page load time and set a goal to reduce it by a specific percentage. For example, if the average page load is 3 seconds, you will want to decrease it by 25% in the next 6 months by optimizing the page’s elements for example.
However, you will need to regularly monitor and analyze these goals to track progress if you want them to be useful lowering your carbon footprint.
6. Review User Journeys
GA4 provides rich insights about user journeys: you can see how your customer move around your website (Leitch). Are they finding their way and the information they want? Do they do a lot of back and forth? By analyzing these journeys, you can understand the behaviour of your users and where they take a long time or when they go off your site, for example. Then, you will be able to optimize your pages and eliminate some elements that are not used by your customers. This will lower your overall energy consumption.
7. Merge Pages Targeting the Same Keywords
If your website has pages targeting the same keywords, it’s an opportunity to optimize your SEO and make it more environmentally friendly simultaneously. If some of your pages mention the same keywords, they will compete each other and may disturb user navigation. In addition, by spending less time moving from one page to another on your website, users will find information quickly, thus generating less carbon emissions. Then, the solution is to merge these pages together. When merging, keep the page with the highest authority: the page that has better backlinks and gets more visitors for instance. To execute this, consider implementing a 301 redirect (Corbasson, 2022). It indicates that the page has permanently moved to a new location, guiding both users and search engines to the updated URL. Therefore, deleting these similar pages will minimize server requests which reduce energy use.
By doing this, you also optimize the user experiences and conversion funnel all together as users will find information more easily.
Implementing these strategies can have a significant impact on your website’s carbon footprint. In addition, making your website more sustainable comes with other benefits: it will produce fewer carbon emissions and generate fewer server requests. Consequently, it will become more efficient, resulting in improved loading times and a better overall user experience.
Bordage, F., 2019, Écoconception web: les 115 bonnes pratiques
Citron Noir, Eco-conception web : réduire l’empreinte carbone des entreprises
Corbasson, A., 2022, Marketing vert: 10 astuces pour lutter contre la pollution numérique
Douyon, P., 2022, Réduire l’empreinte carbone d’un site web grâce au SEO
Inventiv-IT, 2023, 10 RÈGLES D’ECOCONCEPTION D’UN SITE WEB
Leitch, A., 10 ways to make your website more sustainable