SEO and Flash?

by Christi on February 10, 2009


Can you get good search engine results with a site built entirely in Flash? The bottom line is that a site built entirely in Flash still faces huge obstacles. While there have been recent moves from Google and Yahoo! to try to index the content from combined Flash/SEO sites, those moves have not yet translated into SEO results or success, when compared to html sites.

Google and Adobe have teamed up on an algorithm to index text content in Flash. As a result of the new algorithm for Flash, Googlebot now indexes “textual content in SWF files of all kinds” and extracts URLs embeded in Flash.” On July 1, 2008, Google rolled out another update designed to assist Googlebot in its ability to traverse simple JavaScript, like SWFObject

However, there are still major issues:

  • The URL generally never changes no matter where people navigate on the site. SEO practitioners will tell you, every page of your site is a potential entry page for a search engine. With a site built in Flash, SEO suffers even more as you only have one potential entry page, which is the main URL.
  • Currently, Google doesn’t seem to support translations of text content in Flash which means that if you decide that you want to use a rare and fancy font that must be displayed in graphic form (since the visitor may not have that particular font available on his or her computer while browsing), the engine will not read the text and therefore will not know what the page is about, which could harm SEO results.
  • Many mobile devices are currently incapable of displaying Flash content, although recent moves by Adobe to make “Flash Lite” available may change this. However, it remains to be seen whether people that are seeking information on a mobile device will even want to navigate through Flash, especially if they can get the information that they seek from a fast-loading html page.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use flash at all. A site that contains Flash elements along with the basic html elements can still be SEO friendly. Yes, Google reads Flash better than it used to but in SEO terms you want to make your site as spider friendly as possible.

See this SEO/Flash article by Brian Ussery for a great case study testing the use of Flash and the effect it has on SEO.

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