How to make Search Engine FriendlyFlash Websites? Despite the fact that all the major search engines claims to index flash files, in practice there are a few drawbacks when flash websites are indexed. The simple fact that search engines are capable of parsing swf files does not guarantee a proper website indexation.
Flash Websites and SEO
The main problem does not reside in the flash format but in the way the website is designed and structured. The same problem can be encountered with AJAX websites. The search engines are built to search for every possible page and index it. This is fine with standard websites because it mimics the user behaviour: where an user can reach the search engine will reach too.
In the case of the flash pages, certain data is made available to the user after a succession of events. In the eyes of the search engine an swf file is just a part of the html page where it is embedded. For the human user it could be the entire website from where he could get all the information he needs, using a sequence of clicks and GUI operations.
The main problem is the fact that the search engine will associate the information it can retrieve from a flash swf only with the page where is embedded even if the information is equivalent to many standard pages.
Another problem is the fact that flash don’t have a proper anchor text for links like in html. Google and other search engines use in their algorithms the backlinks(links from other pages) to rank individual pages. The most important factor in this case is the anchor text. In a standard page, the anchor text could be used to provide some information to the search engine.
SEO Optimize Flash Websites
There are a few things to keep in mind when you have to seo optimize a flash website:
- The site should have several pages and several swf files should be used, one for each page. The swf should be split in several parts one for each page. The transition between the pages could be annoying for someone who wants a flash website that is loaded all at once in the beginning, but this is a price that should be paid for better ranks in search engines.
- Provide alternative html content for the browsers that don’t have flash player available. Search engines will use that content when indexing that page.
- Place links with proper anchor text in the alternative section.
- Avoid to put the text into images in flash. Image text is not recognized by the search engines when they parse the flash files. Use instead textboxes and flash controls where to put the text.
- If possible place text in the navigation buttons and links inside flash, hoping that search engines will use it like they use the html anchor text.
- Make sure the pages has a proper title tag and a meta description. Search engines could display it in the SERP page.
When you have flash content on your website you should analyze and handle it with special care. On one side you don’t have to drop out flash just because it’s harder for search engines to index it. On the other side you have to use it with the search engines in mind. To stay updated with such techniques you can visit the Adobe’s SEO Channel.
Guest author Adi Ian is a web developer and Internet entrepreneur. He created a number of flash games and profitable websites, focusing currently on Funky Physics, a niche website highlighting free online physics games. Now, he is willing to share his experience on customizing and optimizing flash websites.