Using Flash on Websites and SEO

Flash websites have been the fear of SEO since the inception. Many of us have to constantly battle clients who want a pretty flash website and don’t want to understand the technical jibber jabber about why it’s not good for search engines. We try to explain as best as we can why “Flash sucks,” and why you should stick to HTML sites. But ultimately you can expect them to win with a simple argument: “But it looks so pretty.”

The reality is, there are some businesses that can advantage from a great visual presentation that a simple HTML site cannot give. If your niche is a high valued clientele, or you have a website that sells art or some other product that needs a great visual presentation, then getting a spectacular stunning site may be the priority. In the real world people do like pleasing things that move. There is a reconciliation that can be reached between Flash and SEO. The fiction that anything flash is bad has to be broken. What is truly bad for SEO is a website that consists entirely of one Flash file. But if you’re a skillful developer who has SEO on his mind and must meet the client’s demands for a visually splendid animated site, you can solve this by creating an HTML site and strategically integrating Flash files as well as saundary imagery into the site.

Flash based websites are becoming spare important and popular on the Internet. SEO for Flash is not an easy task. While some search engines (Including Google) are able to crawl and “read” text inserted in Flash animation, many search engines are not. Flash websites are not actually SEO friendly. Although there has been recent good news about Google improving the crawling and indexing of Flash content, it is still a good rule of thumb not to go overboard when it comes to developing flash websites, and stick to the classic rules of search engine crawlability. 

The above are just a few examples of the techniques. They may not be appealing to all, but with a skillful designer/developer, the explore can be infinite. Here is a list of things to keep in mind for the developer, whether you’re creating a new HTML/Flash site or trying to fix the mistakes of the past by redoing an all-Flash website: Create the navigation in HTML/CSS with real HTML URLs for each page. There are plenty of free HTML/CSS navigation menus available on the web. Place all the cool looking animations in Flash strategically throughout the HTML website so that it is seamlessly integrated with the rest of the site. Thus, instead of the whole website in one Flash file, you will have several Flash animations placed inboard the HTML pages. Use images and backgrounds creativity to visually fill in any disconnect between Flash and HTML. If you do this right, most of the casual users won’t be able to tell a difference nor will they care.

Javascript can also be used to move, hide or show navigation or sections of text, and several Flash sites. However, an signification note here is that Javascript should only be used to move the existing HTML sections. The text yourself, as well as navigation and other links, should be in HTML so that they are visible in the source code (and thus read by search engines). If you hide the text and navigation within the Javascript, the search engines will not be able to read them and we are back at the same problem as we had with Flash. Now, it may take a bit more time, and thus more budget to create isolated Flash files, HTML and Javascript tricks. But if you are a business that caters to high-end clientele and can bearing it, the benefits should be greater than just an all-in-one Flash site.