Q and A: How do I Optimize Flash?

Question

Hi Kalena…

I have a question about SEO and flash. We insert flash headers into our web pages sometimes and also use it to insert video into site pages now and again, but we don’t do entire sites in flash. Are there any recent tips or tricks to optimizing the type of flash we use for our sites? Are there any standard coding tips we should be implementing?

Thank you!
Amy

Dear Amy,

As you are aware, fully Flash websites present a major problem for SEO. Traditionally most flash websites do not rank very well (if at all), and despite recent improvements in the ability of search engine spiders to crawl Flash, this is still mostly true. These days, even though search engines are able to navigate through flash sites, idenify content and locate (and follow) links, it is still (as far as I am aware) not possible for search engines to link to specific sections or “pages” within a flash file.

Flash Optimisation

The approach that you have taken – using Flash elements within a traditional page – is the best way to make the most of the Flash functionality and still maximise your ranking potential. Once I would have recommended that if you use flash for navigation you should also provide a text based navigation alternative, to allow search engines to crawl the site. However, I believe that this is no longer necessary as I am starting to see pages indexed by the search engines that are only linked from within flash – proof that crawlers are in fact able to navigate and index them successfully.

There is less evidence however, to show whether search crawlers are able to associate relevant anchor text in the flash file with the link (as they would for a text based link for example). There are also fewer constructs within flash to allow you to associate additional keywords to links, so text links are still likely to be better for optimizing your site. By all means use Flash elements if you need or want to but be sure to also include plenty of other non-flash content.

Flash Video Optimization

Optimization for Flash Videos is much the same as optimising any video. Even though search engines are getting better at understanding video – and I suspect it may be sooner rather than later that they will be able to automatically transcode and decipher comtent for the audio track of videos – this is not yet the case, so you should ensure that any pages containing video content also contain relevant text based content and keyw9ords (and preferably a full transcript from the video).

As for other tips and techniques for optimizing Flash – it’s really too big a topic (and probably to technical) to cover in this blog – but you may like to take a look at this Flash Website Optimisation Strategies post by dgm in Sydney.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting SEO Services (Australia)

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