Flash is Required: How to SEO Flash?

Nov 12, 2007 • 7:11 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization
 

One of the oldest topics in SEO is how can I optimize my Flash site for search engines? Honestly, the sad answer has always been, you can't optimize Flash pages to do well in search engines. Of course, there are workarounds, but those workarounds are suggestions on how to make use of Flash alternatives to create the same thing.

Kim posted a Cre8asite Forums thread asking, what should one do when a client requires Flash and also requires the site to rank well in search engines.

Now, let me step back... A Flash site can rank well in search engines. Search engines use many factors in ranking a page, one factor which is weighted heavily is link analysis. So a page with many links can rank well, even if the search engine cannot read the text on that page. But the bottom line is that Flash pages are not "search engine friendly" because spiders have trouble crawling, understanding and indexing the content on those pages.

The Google help documents has a Q&A that asks Does Google index sites that use Macromedia Flash?

Yes, Google indexes pages that use Macromedia Flash. However, our crawlers may experience problems indexing Flash pages. If you're concerned that Flash content on your pages may be inhibiting Google's ability to crawl your site, you may want to consider using a text browser such as Lynx to examine your site. If features such as Flash keep you from seeing all of your site in a text browser, then search engine spiders may have trouble crawling your site.

You may want to consider creating HTML copies of these Flash pages for our crawler. If you create HTML copies, please be sure to include a robots.txt file that disallows the Flash pages in order to ensure that our crawler doesn't recognize these pages as duplicate content.

Finally, you might consider creating and submitting a detailed site map of your pages using Sitemaps. Sitemaps are an easy way for you to submit all your URLs to the Google index and get detailed reports about the visibility of your pages on Google. With Sitemaps, you can automatically keep us informed of all of your current pages and of any updates you make to those pages. Please note that submitting a Sitemap doesn't guarantee that all pages of your site will be crawled or included in our search results.
Also, the Google Webmaster Central blog has some excellent advice on the topic.

The folks at Cre8asite Forums recommend using the SWFObject if necessary.

My advice, and it is mentioned in the forum threads, use Flash elements within the site but do not use Flash 100%. Do not use Flash for the complete site, do not use Flash for the main navigation or main content area.

Forum discussion at Cre8asite Forums.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: November 9, 2007
 

Comments:

François Houste

11/12/2007 01:02 pm

For one of our customer, which site is based on video and heavy flash interface, we've come to the idea to use both Flash and HTML content on the same page in order to have both users and engines feed with the same content. Main idea is in fact to have a database driven Flash application that is able to start at any content and to show precise data depending on the URL the user/engine wnats to reach. By using this kind of process, we can feed engine and user with same data and still be fiting engine rules and serve no duplicate content... More information, in French, here : http://www.search-engine-feng-shui.com/2007/06/14/reflexions-sur-le-referencement-des-sites-flash/

Dmitriy

05/23/2008 11:26 pm

I am a flash developer and I am amazed by the number of sites that say how you should not build a what appears to be a 100% flash site, because it would be a death to your search engine optimization. To make a long story short, all you need to do is use a system like sIFR that would display your flash content over html, xml or xhtml layout. That means that if a user or a bot visits your site without javascript or flash they will see your html-style layout (that's what google's or any other search engine's bot would see). There you go problem solved, you can have a 100% looking flash site to all those that have flash and a 100% html or xml-based site to all your visitors that cannot see flash(like search engine bots). So, you would have to develop a flash application that would parse and display the contents of a for example, xhtml page that would be displayed behind the 100% flash site and not visible to usual browsers like Firefox or IE. Problem solved! Use as much flash as you want on your site, this will not hurt you SEO as long as you set up your site properly. Don't listen to people that say you'd pretty much be stupid to build your site using tons of flash. 90% of those people base their knowledge on articles only confuse people by focusing their attention on flash instead of web development.

Annie

09/24/2010 08:24 pm

Hi if you read this Dmitriy any chance you can sort my flash website out regarding the seo's - I dont understand it and most of the techs I approach to do it say the same about it not working properly - I NEED YOU :)

Rob Abdul

09/26/2010 07:50 pm

News Flash! You can have a 100% website rank just as well as a HTML site. The trick is to have a text version of the site along side the flash version and only show the text version of the site to Search Engines and to human visors the flash version. All this can be achieved by checking for the browser type. Moonfruit.com do just that very well indeed.

pardalman

10/02/2012 10:21 am

Well... after 4 years it seems "YOU SHOULD NOT BUILD A 100% FLASH SITE", in fact Flash is strongly dicouraged now that Apple and many device manufacturers have decide not to include Flash... Ladies and gentlemen Flash has left the building...

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