There are many times when SEO and Web Design come into direct conflict and one of the main areas is that of Flash. Adobe Flash Software, or as you may remember it - Macromedia Flash, is primarily to create a compressed animation and you will probably come across it in learning enviroments. The ease of embedding it into a HTML document and it’s flexibility in terms of development has made it a very popular technology on the web.
As it stands there are millions of web pages on the net that include flash elements. Movies are a popular way of using the technology and can be made very exciting in the hands of a good programmer. Another popular use of Flash is to animate banners enticing visitors to interact with your site.
As you may have already guessed a well structed Flash site can be the ultimate way of gaining a positive response from your site visitors and this is exactly why they are becoming more and more popular with web desingers and developers. However we are not here to discuss great designs and web developing tips, we are here to learn how this effects search engine optimisation. As a rule most flash pages exprience problems when it comes to being crawled by SE bots and cannot usually gain high positions for relevant keywords.
How do the Search Engines deal with Flash
In June last year Google announced a new algorithm for Flash based sites and makes it possible for the crawlers to extract information from flash based files, including text and links. According to the Google webmaster blog, Google will now index textual content held within SWF files and extract URL’s embedded in Flash.
Google and the other main search engines are still working hard with Adobe to execute more effective ways of indexing Flash apps, however a few disadvantages still remain:-
- Google and the other main search engines may not associate all text content in Flash with the appropriate parent URL. This could make for a poor user experience for visitors without flash enabled browsers.
- Google and others cannot index textual content held in image files. A lot of Flash content contains image files and none of the text held in them files can be indexed.
Let’s say we manage to get our sites indexed? Does this mean high search engine rankings? Nope. Being indexed is simply not enought to compete with the ultra optimised websites. We have to remember that search engine optimisation still depends heavily on META data and not just META tags.
Even though Google claims it’s crawler can access and index Flash files, as experienced and competent SEO’s and SEM’s we should not rely on it to do so and search for additional ways to increase the rankings of our flash sites.
Some Helpful Tips
- Ok the first and simple aspect to consider is to build an XHTML site that incorporates all the different types of technology ie; CSS, textual content, java and Flash. Do this instead of including everything in one flash file.
- Do you have a site that is already 100% Flash? If so you are going to suffer a great disadvantage because you are lacking page structure to organise content, internal links and your all important unique pages titles. One possible work around for this is to create a HTML page that represents each of your Flash pages and then install your movie or image on each HTML page.
- Don’t place your text within images as you are basically making it 100% invisible to the spiders. Instead, Google is now able to see the text that appears to visitors, so place your text into the flash files directly. There you go text discovered and indexed.
- Build up your link popularity to your Flash pages paying particular attention to building your keyword theme and making it as relevant as possible to your title and meta tags. This can be one of the most effective strategies for gaining high rankings for your flash pages.
These are just a couple of the aspects I look at when dealing with flash issues and until Google and others create a more efficient way of reading Flash files it is always going to be slightly in conflict with SEO.
Hope this helps you flash users
Author: Tim (292 Articles)
Tim Grice is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 7 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Head of Search at Branded3, an SEO agency in Leeds.