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Your Website, Flash and SEO

Getting found quickly and easily on Google has become a litmus test for a website’s success. Commercial websites are built to attract visitors and if no one can find you your site is of little use. Carefully structuring your site can have really positive effects for your users as well as boosting your PageRank.

User Experience

Websites are for people and your site should be created around a great user experience. HTML is the code used to build websites and it’s framework of tags has evolved to present information to its human users in a way that’s easy for them to comprehend. Google (and Microsoft’s Bing) over time have learned to interpret this framework and recognise when it’s in a good and useable format for us the user to understand. This plus incoming links helps search engines rank and display websites in an order that they deem useful.

Flash and SEO

Flash is a is a multimedia platform from software giant Adobe and it’s used to add animation, video, and interactivity to web pages. Flash does not present itself as a page but as self contained fluid content so it may not necessarily have a unique URL like a normal webpage. Initially it was criticised for it’s low visibility to search engines but today it’s not entirely true to say that Flash content is a sealed box. Where SEO may suffer is trying to link to content in that box. SEO experts spend their time monitoring the behaviour of search engine algorithms and pass on information to clients on how they might mirror HTML framework and come up with linking strategies. However search engines may link to the Flash file rather than to specific content within that file. There is a technique called deep linking that allows Flash developers to target specific points in the file and assign URLs. However this method still leaves search engines blind to some content and without a complete picture of a site.

Flash may stop Google from getting the complete picture.

Flash may stop Google from getting the complete picture.

Options

If you’re torn between using Flash for it’s beautiful interactive content and it’s possibly negative effect on SEO don’t be. JavaScript can offer many similar features such as hover effects, draggable elements or slideshows. Another alternative is to just introduce Flash as smaller non-critical elements that don’t dominate your site. Then a well thought out HTML framework can be used that is easier, for Google, to understand.

It’s also important to note that Apple does not allow Flash on it’s iPhone, which accounts for more than 50% of worldwide smartphone web traffic. In addition the iPod touch makes up more than 89% of “mobile Internet device” traffic. So if you’re looking for an ubiquitous mobile platform Flash may not be the best choice.

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