SEO for Flash websites

hmm.. should I or shouldn't I..? image - thegooglecache.com

Optimizing Macromedia Flash websites for visibility in search engines..

About 40-50% of the Ibiza-based websites we get to work on are written in Macromedia Flash. There is no doubt that many web designers love Flash ( ..see Digital Numpty Flash Designer :) ) and when done correctly it does look very nice.

There is also no doubt however that unless you can get people to come to your website, it wont help you much, and this is where Flash still falls very down badly.

It generally means that for all intents and purposes your content is invisible to Google.

Consider the excerpt below from Vanessa Fox posting as a guest on Matt Cutts, who is the Head of Google’s Webspam Team, regarding use of Flash sites, and their performance in Search Engines.

Flash-based sites – From Matt Cutts (Google) Personal Blog

“It’s not only Googlebot who doesn’t watch a 20 second video load before the home page comes into view. A lot of users don’t either. Some users don’t want to wait that long; other users don’t have Flash installed.

If all of your content and menus are in Flash, search engines may have a harder time following the links. If you feel strongly about using Flash, just make an HTML version of the page available as well.

The search engine bots will thank you. Your users will thank you. Feel free to block the Flash version from the crawlers with a robots.txt file, since you don’t need your pages indexed twice.

If your home page is Flash, put the navigation outside of the Flash content. You could offer a choice on the home page so users can choose either the HTML version or the Flash version of the site.

You might be surprised at what users choose.”

Many Flash designers now talk about Google now being able to see and index content inside Flash files, and in some cases this may be so, but even if this is the case, there is no way indexed Flash content can be made as search engine friendly, or to rank as well as an HTML site can.

Being “able to index” is not the same as “being able to rank well”

Being “able to be indexed” is for100% Flash websites, however anywhere that the flash is called by javascript, it still wont get indexed. But this is not the main reason to use alternative HTML content, the main reason is to catch the large amount of users who are physically or technologically disabled, and actually show them something rather than just a blank screen, otherwise you have wasted that visit, and with an unoptimised Flash site you will likely not be getting enough visitors that you can afford to be wasting any opportunities due to web design deficiencies.

You can guarantee that if the visit was a buying customer with his credit card in his hand, then you lost out, and they went and bought somewhere else because your website failed in it’s primary mission, to get your message across.

However pretty it looks, Flash-only websites can be very bad for business, bad for attracting it, bad for selling to anyone without the latest technologies running, and bad for those less fortunate than most of us in being able to see the website at all.

Latest versions of Flash allow loading of metadata into the files, however as most SEO consultants will tell you these days, with the exception of page titles, meta data is for the most part, totally worthless for SEO purposes.

If you have, or are considering buying an all FLASH business website that needs to attract and sell online, you will need to talk to an SEO Consultant because it will not happen on it’s own. People say there are no guarantees in SEO but we would pretty much guarantee you that much.

SEO Ibiza are specialists at building and integrating HTML sites around your current Flash one, or at integrating your new Flash site into an HTML shell to help both disabled viewers, and search engines see it and show it..

Please Contact Us for more details of our SEO website design, and affordable SEO Packages or an in-depth assessment of your individual circumstances.

Further reading including several advanced methods of optimising Flash websites are detailed in the links and sites below: