Avoid Search Engine Roadblocks in Macromedia Flash MX

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* Search Engine: Avoid Search Engine Roadblocks in Macromedia Flash MX
Posted May 19, 2003 - 01:05 AM
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Search Engine Promotion Flash MX and SEO just do not mix. Here's how you can avoid problems when optimizing your Flash pages before submitting them to search engines

The Internet has grown over the past years in exponential amounts, which has had both positive and negative effects. The Internet in essence, should be a network of websites that contain valuable information and services that cater to o­ne person or another. There is no law that says that a website must be flat. Although this is true, the use of Flash in current times has deemed some important websites that contain good information un-findable via the search engines.

When a search engine indexes a website it will send a spider or robot to crawl through the HTML documents of a website, and it will decipher depending o­n the HTML content whether or not it will index the site in their database. It also deciphers from this process which search terms or keywords the website will appear in the search engines under.

The problem is that the search engines are not currently indexing Flash, and can't read the information contained within the Flash. This means that all of the important information, or an entire category of your site that is built with Flash is not readable by the search engines and therefore not able to be indexed.

I visit a certain website every so often that posts links to other sites with exceptional designs. I followed a link from this site recently to this site: http://www.ecko.com/. This website has an excellent design, but utilizes Flash for the navigation, content, links, and everything else. After navigating through the site for a few minutes I noticed that they sell shoes and other apparel.

I then went to Google and performed a search for shoes and then for apparel... nowhere to be found. I then went to Overture's keyword suggestion tool, and performed a search for apparel and then for shoes. In the month of August, the keyword “apparel” was searched for 33,124 times and “shoes” was searched for 196,733 times. This is the amount of potential customers that Ecko is missing out o­n, mainly because they use Flash and more importantly because they do not use it correctly.

There is a proper way to use Flash o­n a website and a very bad way to use Flash. If you are going to use Flash, there are a few things to remember when designing or building your site:

  • Do not use Flash for the navigational structure
  • Do not have all of your important content contained in the Flash movies
  • Do not use huge Flash objects that make the pages too large in size
  • You must remember the users o­n dial-up connections that will not wait 5 minutes to see your Flash movie
  • Do not make the site too complicated or too confusing, as this will deter potential customers

From the few things above, you might think that there is no actual use for Flash, and you are partially right. Think of the negative effects that your website will see as a result of having the whole site built in Flash:

  • Losing potential customers
  • Beaten by competitors
  • Losing traffic to the website
  • Missing out o­n exposure o­n the Internet
  • Customers leaving website as a result of download times
  • Missing out o­n important branding possibilities

The o­ne way to use Flash o­n your website that will not hinder your capabilities of visibility and success o­n the Internet is to have Flash as an option. There are many sites o­n the Internet that have the Index page with the option of entering the Flash version or the HTML version. The problem with this is that they cannot optimize this page, and will have to optimize the HTML version of the website. If the HTML version is optimized, then the users will not be as easily able to reach the Flash version if it is desired.

What is the alternative? Build your website in HTML, and then build another version in Flash. o­n every page of the HTML version have a button or link somewhere prominent o­n the page that will give the visitor the option of entering the Flash version. If this is done, then the website will not miss out o­n the things mentioned above, and the visitor is less likely to be frustrated with the website.

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