Why you need to think about sustainability as an SEO agency | Varn


5 October 2023

Why you need to think about sustainability as an SEO agency

We’re all getting used to thinking about carbon emissions when we go on holiday, buy a new car or choose our energy supplier, but how much do you think about carbon and sustainability when you think about your agency and SEO work?

As we get closer to the 2030 and 2050 deadlines1 and every week seems to bring a new extreme weather event somewhere in the world, we’re taking a look at 5 big reasons why green should be a part of your next re-branding.

1) You’re doing a lot of it anyway, so why not shout about it?

Sustainable metrics for websites just happen to match up almost perfectly with great SEO metrics. All those things we optimise for as SEO professionals – ease of navigation, fast loading pages, easy crawling for bots – they all mean less energy used by those big power hungry servers and less water usage to cool them down. Talking to your clients about these issues helps to widen the debate and it brings added value to the work you do and their SEO spend. 

2) Consumers are demanding action.

… and that means businesses are starting to display their eco credentials more prominently and work on improving the sustainability of their supply chain. If you haven’t been asked for your carbon emissions yet as part of a pitch, we predict its coming. And it means more than a tick box procedure to please clients – if you’re measuring where you’re at now, you can assess how to move the dial and celebrate when you make improvements.

3) It helps to mark you out as a thoughtful employer.

If consumers are getting greener, so are your employees. Research by the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST), at Cardiff University and the University of Bath2 found that all generations hold similar beliefs about the causes and effects of climate change, but younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z show higher levels of activism and engagement with the issue. So those sharp grads are you’re looking to recruit? – They’re checking you out to see who you work with and what your climate actions are.

4) Sustainability has a lot of fringe benefits.

Even if you want to dispute that climate change is man-made, a fairer, cleaner, greener world with less pollution and greater biodiversity sounds like a beautiful place to live. Working with your clients on websites that perform better for SEO and for data usage is great for your business and theirs. Improving the sustainability of your office, your modes of transport and your investments can help save money and make you more efficient.

5) Google sees it as important.

The big tech company has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions across all of its operations and value chain by 2030. They also have an ambitious goal to operate their offices and data centres with carbon-free energy by the same date3. Carbon emissions aren’t currently a Google ranking factor but we can see the day when it might sit next to domain authority and backlink quality in the list of influences on reaching that first page goal. Varn founder Tom Vaughton predicted in his 2023 BrightonSEO talk that a Google ranking system for sustainability will be a reality in the coming years. It makes sense to channel your inner scout and be prepared.

At Varn we’re on the journey with everyone else. There’s a lot we do already that we need to get better at measuring and documenting, and plenty more that we haven’t even started. For example, we currently work one day a week in our woodland office complete with solar power and composting toilets, but we need to start tracking our emissions so we can plan greater savings. And we don’t yet have a dedicated sustainability role in the team to help keep us on track. 

If you want to explore ways to make your website and online life greener, check out our previous blog Is your website bad for the planet?

And a list of further reading and handy tools:

If you would like to chat to any of the team at Varn about our approach to sustainability, then do get in touch.


  1. To keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C  – as called for in the Paris Agreement – emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. – https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/net-zero-coalition
  1. https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/news/view/2730843-millennials-and-gen-z-have-higher-rates-of-climate-worry
  1. https://sustainability.google/commitments/
Article by: Kate, Client Manager More articles by Kate

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