Ditch Flash for Better SEO and Much Happier Clients
Flash is… well, flashy.
It’s the fun, animated stuff you often see playing like a video at the top of a website, or as a “gateway” page where you enter a site. There are tons of internet sites devoted to selling “Free Flash Websites!” Everyone loves Flash.
Except, that is, for search engines.
Search engines don’t “read” Flash well. You want a search engine to crawl your website and understand everything you’ve posted there so that the search engine can then tell people who might be looking for your “organic cotton baby diapers” or “custom motorcycle detailing” exactly where to find you. If your content is buried in a Flash introduction or series of banners, the search engine doesn’t know about it, and outside of any paid advertising you’re doing, neither will anyone else.
Even with the improvements in Google’s algorithm for improved indexing of textual content of Flash files, there are several reasons to ditch your Flash for better usability and more search engine-friendly tactics.
- Images can’t be read, period. You should always name and tag your imagery with keywords and alternative or “alt” text (even if you aren’t using Flash at all).
- Much of what you communicate will not be available to visually impaired visitors.
- If your whole site is Flash, people will not be able to link to content that you provide. The value of inbound links is tremendous, particularly when those links come from trusted sources.
- There are often simpler ways to communicate the experience of your brand or business without burying valuable content in Flash. It can still be used, but the content you most want to have indexed should be easily “digestible” for search engine bots.
- If Flash makes your visitor and potential customer WAIT to access the content they’re looking for (i.e., they can’t control when a piece of content appears) they are highly likely to leave for easier answers. Your business wouldn’t ignore a client’s needs, why would your website commit such an indiscretion?
- Flash is difficult to update. If you want a small piece of the content changed, you’re stuck changing the entire file (or paying someone else to change it for you).
- Flash takes a while to load. Especially if the Flash is sporting all the bells and whistles like sound effects and embedded movies, it’s a bandwidth vampire, sucking up valuable time that your visitor just isn’t likely to wait through. Not everyone has fat pipes.
Why are there still so many Flash websites? They can be beautiful! With their smooth gradients, carefully choreographed flow, nifty sounds and animations, it’s easy to see how tempting they are to employ.
But in the end smart business people are going to make their content easily accessible so that search engines can index and users can convert. So go easy on the Flash.