Search Engine Friendly Design and Coding (Especially Flash) - WMW Conf 7

Nov 16, 2004 • 8:02 pm | comments (0) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under WebmasterWorld 2004 Las Vegas
 

Its been almost a year since I attended a session of this nature. I was not too impressed last time, so I am hoping things have changed within the year. Brett introduces the panel, by saying its the first time WMW is doing this panel.

Ted Ulle, WMW Admin, was up first. His slide says "The Vegas Diet", basically how you can trim down your <body>. He looks at the text to code ratio, the more you reduce the code in your files the smaller the file the easier it is to spider. Its not an algorithm thing, Google doesn't look at the ratio for ranking purposes. But it does make it easier to maintain, fewer errors. Fewer packets, less bandwidth needed to serve to the user and the spiders. He discusses how he removes indents, they waste space and less bytes (now that can be argued). Your information architecture does not need to match your directory structure. Just because the click trail is long, it doesnt mean you need to make a longer URL. He says why use an /image directory, throw everything in the root (this might make some of the readers sick). A no brainer is putting CSS and JavaScript in external files. Don't do inline styles, and dont need the span tag. Some of the real magic of CSS; you still can use tables for basic structure, the two most underused CSS (1) style elements such as p tag, h tags, li tags should all be defined and (2) you can declare multiple classes in one declaration, i.e. <p class="c l r". He uses a CSS toolkit, which makes much sense for many reasons.

George Shaw who will discuss from a Flash point of view. Why should you use flash? Flash provides for motion, more then a gif or other technology. It also provides for a very good method of delivering sound. Also advanced interactivity, and scalability (fits a screen dynamically) and load control. If none of these items are important, then your best bet is to not use Flash. Problems with Flash, content is not readily crawlable, flash pages are not seen as multiple pages (often). Full site flash is bad for SEO purposes. Flash and HTML together is a better solution. He is working on a method to come up with a solution to build an all flash web site SEO friendly, without deploying cloaking. They try to break the content up into layers, basically HTML pages which is fully searchable and then they take a Flash layer and sit that on top of the content layer. The only issue they have now is the trust issue. The search engines need to trust that the HTML layer is accurately displaying the Flash layer content.

Next up is Gregory Market from Infuse Creative asked how many are SEOs versus Flash people versus Marketing people. A year or so ago Macromedia allowed many to download the Flash SDK, asking the search engines to use the SDK. Google now does read, index, and rank flash sites. He then adds, has it made a difference? Do a search on "hubble" and the # 7 site is a flash site, but this is do to inbound anchor text. But Google is crawling and navigating through Flash navigation. But we do not know how Google weighs the embedded flash elements. As of today, the Flash SDK has been turned off. His big Macromedia announcements: that Macromedia is working on it. :) Now for some best practices "workaround" solutions. Problem, only one page is indexed. Solution, build a secondary html site or build a flash movie for each page. Do not detect flash compatibility on your index page, your index page is where search engines learn about your site. Often flash sites do not have titles or descriptions. Most flash pages have little text, add more text to your flash documents and mix in flash and html. www.searchguild.com/seflash.html will show you what the SDK shows. Don't use pop ups or framesets. Make sure your pages are linked well, navigation is key when you have broken out your flash pages. He then goes through some general SEO tips. He then goes into some of the grey workaround methods. Invisible text, noscript tag or css hidden z layer, or IP delivery. He went through a case where Google allowed NPR radio to cloak the audio files in text, Danny Sullivan has a good recap article on that. Checkout RichMediaSEO.com.

Tim Mayer from Yahoo was next. The beginning the speech will be very basic, so I will just chime in with notes as it gets interesting. Not that Tim is not an interesting person, :). If you are using Flash at this point, that you will rarely get a number one listing. They are trying to get Flash publishers to put more information in the meta information but its a matter of trust. They are trying to extract more information from the swf file, its had to do. They are extracting the links from the swf files - which might be most important. He then posted some sources, were-here.com and Jakob Nieslen's view on flash.

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