SEO for Flash Websites

Thursday, 19 July 2007

I have been recently contacted by a Flash developer friend to advise on the search engine optimisation for a Flash website. My first answer was that Flash websites are not search engine friendly. if Google can read some of the content in Flash, it is impossible to optimise the Flash content. As the keywords he want to be ranked for a pretty popular it would be almost impossible to be able to achieve good rankings.

I am asked the question around and search the internet. Most SEO consultants simply turn their back when they hear the words SEO and Flash together. There is a common belief that Flash websites are harldy optimisable. It is actually true, but instead of trying to find solution SEOs (including myself) will recommend to remove the Flash and move to a HTML based website. HTML is the golden child and Flash the delinquant. Based on that many SEOs do not even want to look for more and jsut give up or try to make their client change their way.

Build a HTML and a Flash Website

However, I got really interested in finding a way to make this possible.The first solution I found is to build 2 websites. One in Flash and the other one in HTML. The HTML home page will provide a link to the HTML version, which will be indexed by Google, and one in Flash. However, this solution implies building two websites,which is costly. Moreover, this solution will not be great for Page Rank distribution. I quickly give up with this alternative

Progessive Enhancement

I kept on searching an came up to a blog talking about progressive enhancement. Progressive enhancement is not a new method, but it is often ignored or not explored by SEOs. Progessive enhancement is web development method promoted by the latest web standards. It consists in imporving the user usability by allowing most user to be able to have access to the content of a website.
Back to our case. Following this methodology, you start with your HTML, you can lay out the content as you want using the usual HTML tags. You can also introduce CSS to make it look better. The next step is to introduce the Flash movie using a Java-Script. As Search engines do not read Java-Script, they will skip the Flash file and only index the content from the HTML. On the user side, if he has the right plug-ins, he won't even see the HTML as the Flash will replace the content...

On a SEO point of view, it is possible to optimise the content and Google will index it.. That is it! I definetly recommended this method to my friends and told him to read a great example to make sure to implement the code properly. Nothing is impossible tto optimise :-)


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Anonymous said...

my God, i thought you were going to chip in with some decisive insght at the end there, not leave it with ‘we leave it to you to decide’.