Flash and SeoWith Flash you can make impressive websites that are fun and entertaining. With Flash you can publish video clips, moving graphics, animations, games, tutorials and innovative presentations. It is perfect to showcase your portfolio. Images can be resized without degradation in quality. Products and graphics can be displayed in three dimensions with Papervision 3D flash. Most advertisements are made with Flash. Flash is heavily used in the web design industry.

Even though Flash websites can look absolutely fantastic there are some problems with indexing by search engines because of the following reasons:

  • Loading time is much longer than with HTML sites.
  • Flash sites are made up of a single SWF file so there are no separate pages.
  • No separate pages mean no separate URL’s.
  • Page navigation is similar to frame navigation in that sense that it jumps from one frame to another without changing URL’s.
  • No sitemap support
  • No Meta tags support
  • No Meta descriptions support.
  • Content and images are loaded in frames instead of separate pages.
  • Keyword optimization on the pages is difficult.
  • You can’s distinguish the images from each other or optimize them with alt tags.

All these factors make Flash websites practically invisible to search engines. Google advises webmasters to construct their SWF files in such a way so that Google can index it. If the SWF file is structured appropriate then Google can read content and text links in SWF files. You should also consider making your site not entirely in Flash but use a seo fliendly CMS so you can add text parts that are crawlable and will be indexed and make the page more future rich with Flash elements. And when you have videos on your web pages you should consider adding a text version for more keyword rich pages.

Improved Flash indexing by Google

The Google Webmaster post about improved Flash indexing mentioned the following improvements:

  • Discover and follow links in Flash files.
  • Google can now load external resources and associate content with its parent file.
  • Indexing of textual content displayed when a user interacts with a file. Google clicks on buttons and enters input the same way a user does.
  • Support common JavaScript techniques for embedding Flash, such as SWFObject and SWFObject2.
  • Index sites that are scripted with AS1, AS2 & AS3. Even if the Action Script is obscured.

This means that it is possible to create a Flash website that Google can crawl and index.

seo flashUse SWFObject to improve indexing of Flash Site.

Adobe is supporting SWFObject in its latest versions specifically for improving SEO for Flash. SWFObject allows you to serve users who have Flash installed and users who have support for (X)HTML. Crawlers will look at XHTML and content will be indexed. Shockwave Object 2.0 (SWF) is the industry standard for Flash accessibility programming. It has gained popularity with Web designers and has been endorsements by major search engines. It is the successor of Unobtrusive Flash Objects. SWFObject 2.0 is open source project.  Google says that it offers one solution for all and promotes the use of Web standards and alternative content.

Create HTML Pages for each Flash Page.

Make different SWF files for optimized content and put it into XHTML pages. By doing so you will enable crawler to index content of SWF file and it will reduce loading time of your page because you have smaller SWF files. And separate pages will make navigation easy to index and adding a sitemap will be possible then. You can also add all Meta tags and attributes to the XHTML pages this way.

Use SWFAddress to improve SEO for Flash

SWFAddress is extremely crawler friendly. It allows reading information from the URL and use it within or outside Flash. You can now deep link in Flash and use #anchors jump to specific parts in your Flash page.

Add a JavaScript call

If all is good you now have multiple HTML pages and the ability to deep link. Now you need to redirect users who come from a search engine to the right content within your Flash site. You need to call the SWFAddress from JavaScript and update the page URL. Because your Flash site has been set up to use SWFAddress, it will read the update and take the user to the proper section.

Some more possibilities to make your website seo friendly can be found here:

Please share your opinion about how to seo optimize a Flash website in the comments. Thank you!

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