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The Myth About SEO and Flash

by Guest Author

This is a guest post by Ryan Michael Farrell. Most of the industry agrees that except for a few corner cases, your website doesn’t need Flash. It is heavy, slows down load times, makes the pages harder for crawlers to index, and can be distracting for users if not done exactly right. However, there is a time and a place for Flash, so it is important to understand how SEO and Flash can work together. This might be necessary because a company is concerned about SEO and Flash websites it already has or because it needs Flash on a new site but doesn’t want to neglect SEO.

The biggest reasons why Flash isn’t very SEO-friendly are that flash content tends to be image-intensive, and that embedded text can be difficult for SEO bots to find. As web crawlers are designed to identify the subject of a page and determine how unique it is based on the text content and links, these two problems obstruct SEO ranking. But well-done Flash content can dramatically improve the user’s experience, and there are some tweaks that can make Flash more indexable.Most importantly, if you are absolutely sure you need Flash for your site, find a web developer who understands SEO and can integrate SEO and Flash from the beginning of your site’s design. The first thing that this expert will tell you is that recent collaborations between Adobe and search engines has made it possible for index spiders to index some swf content and read some internal links. This has been the case since 2008 when Google announced the capacity. Google and other search engines have continued to push the envelope as far as reading rich internet applications such as Flash’s swf, and xml files.

But developers who value SEO push back, pointing out that despite this years-old capacity, the nature of Flash and AJAX-based pages inherently inhibits being linked to. Dynamic Flash content is not paginated, so there aren’t individual URLs for the pieces of a particular swf that a search engine may attempt to link to. There are workaround to append links throughout Flash content, but they aren’t as effective at getting indexed as simpler CSS or even HTML pages.

So by using several of these strategies, such as external XML files and swfs with deep links that create a recognizable structure for web crawlers to execute and cache, an SEO-minded Flash designer can make SEO and Flash work together for your site. If this is a priority, expect to pay for it because it is more complex and time consuming, and more difficult to maintain as the site is continually updated and pages added to maintain a ranking.

Article By: Ryan Michael Farrell

Ryan is a Los Angeles based search engine optimization analyst who specializes in search engine friendly web design and optimization for user experience and search engine marketing. Learn more at www.wpromote.com.

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