Epicado: Google Penalizes UK Web Sites on 'Green' Servers

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 penalizes UK Web sites hosted on foreign servers powered 100 percent by green energy, an Epicado press release said.

Epicado, a Web marketing company based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, has created an online petition to persuade the company to change its policy.

While Web sites, e-mail, and other Web services can reduce the need for the printing of paperwork and junk mail; Web hosting 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 Web site is hosted. The U.K.'s alternative energy sources are still too unreliable to provide a consistent service so the best way for U.K. businesses to have their Web sites hosted on servers using 100 percent 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 United States is less "relevant" to a United Kingdom search.

Given that Google's share of UK searches is now in the region of two-thirds, this could have disastrous effects on any UK business that decides to cut its carbon emissions.

Epicado helps its clients promote their sites in the search engines. It offers a 100 percent 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," Lock said, "and it can't be beyond their capabilities to adjust their ranking algorithm so that UK businesses aren't penalized 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 percent 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."

The marketing firm's 100 percent carbon-free service has its servers based in California.

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