(Gawkwire.com) As businesses across the globe are urged to reduce their carbon footprints, it seems Google, the company founded on the principle ‘don’t be evil’, currently penalises UK websites hosted on foreign servers powered 100% by green energy. Epicado, a UK web marketing company based in Stroud, Gloucestershire has created an online petition to persuade the company to change its policy.
Whilst websites, email and other web services can reduce the need for the printing of paperwork and junk mail; web hosting inevitably consumes massive amounts of electricity, and the generation of this power produces carbon emissions.
Google uses many criteria in ranking web pages, one of which is the geographic location of the web page’s “IP” address. This is the address of the location where the website is hosted. The UK’s alternative energy sources are still too unreliable to provide a consistent service so the best way for UK businesses to have their websites hosted on servers using 100% green energy is to choose a hosting service based outside the country. If they do this, their rankings in Google’s UK search results are likely to fall because Google infers that a site hosted in the US is less ‘relevant’ to a UK search.
Given that Google’s share of UK searches is now in the region of two thirds, this could have potentially disastrous effects on any UK business that decides to cut its carbon emissions.
UK based web marketing company, Epicado helps its clients to promote their sites in the search engines. It offers a 100% green hosting service, but faces a dilemma.
Director, Paul Lock, said, “It may be the law of unintended consequences, but the fact is that Google is effectively preventing UK businesses from exercising their environmental responsibilities. We would urge government, businesses and anyone concerned about global warming to lobby Google on this issue. Businesses can sign our petition here."
“They’re clever people,” says Lock, “and it can’t be beyond their capabilities to adjust their ranking algorithm so that UK businesses aren’t penalised for cutting their emissions. We know that Google wants to rank only the most relevant and trustworthy sites and you could argue that businesses willing to invest in 100% green hosting are more likely to be trustworthy and ethical. It seems that Google needs to catch up with the times and live up to its founding ethical principles.”
Epicado already offers its clients the ability to reduce their carbon footprints by hosting their sites on carbon neutral servers in the UK. It works with hosts who have partnered with the International Tree Foundation, Britain’s longest standing tree planting charity, to create a package that provides sufficient tree planting to offset the carbon emissions produced by each customer’s hosting needs.
However, off-setting carbon use is not as environmentally friendly as using none at all. Epicado has launched a 100% carbon-free service with servers based in California, but until Google adjusts its ranking algorithm, it can’t recommend the service to clients who need to preserve their Google rankings – and help reduce their carbon footprint.