Flash & SEO Dilemma | Web Development, SEO Strategies

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Flash & SEO: Why they still don’t mix

It’s true that Google’s indexing of Flash content has come a long way. Unfortunately, Flash websites are still very much lacking in terms of overall search engine optimization.


Flash Content: Good, But Not Great

If we lived in a perfect world, web developers would be able to build a site solely in Adobe Flash. They could pile in all the external content...and then let Google and major search engines index the page just as they would a normal site. Yet, this is not our reality.

Indexing textual Flash content is still undoubtedly more difficult than with HTML (i.e., HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3). Web crawlers are unable to fully “see” everything within Flash Movies versus their comparative HTML sites.

Here are some other reasons Flash sites are still not SEO-friendly:

1. The single URL issue: The Flash file loads on your home page, the user clicks a link, and the Flash file loads a new internal page or “stage” -- with the exact same URL.

2. Text breakdown: While Google can index SWF output files to see words and phrases, text in Flash doesn’t come as neat and orderly. It’s often jumbled up into half phrases and worse still requires you to “break” apart words to animate them.

3. Uncrawlable: A lot of content within Flash is uncrawlable due to Google’s refusal to execute external javascript calls (which many Flash-based sites use) and index content within Flash external files (which they rely upon).

4. Void of SEO Basics: Headlines, img alt tags, anchor text, and title tags are not simple to include in Flash and therefore often left out completely. Developing Flash for ultimate search engine optimization in this regard is not just more difficult than with HTML, it’s virtually impossible.

5. Linked-to content: Content within Flash is often only linked-to by other embedded Flash content, resulting in low quality links and thus low page rank.

6. Doesn’t get “link love” for external links: Unlike with HTML host pages, Flash media doesn’t get a great amount of “link love” from the web for its external links. Even if an all-Flash site gets a decent number of links to the homepage, its interior pages almost always suffer.

Still unclear of the benefits of using JavaScript and HTML5 in place of Flash for SEO purposes? Check out these articles on the Flash/HTML SEO debate:

  • http://www.rickydeez.com/web-design/seo-debate-html-vs-flash/ 

  • http://www.yourseoplan.com/google-flash/ 

  • http://www.seomoz.org/blog/flash-and-seo-compelling-reasons-why-search-engines-flash-still-dont-mix


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