As Adobe and Apple continue to battle over support for Flash, it is worth reevaluating the use of Flash on your own website. As its name indicates, there is no denying the “flash” of Flash. Flash can be very versatile and attractive to website visitors when used in the correct context. In the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) however, improperly-used Flash can significantly hurt organic search rankings.

The use of Flash is not, in itself, harmful to rankings. It does make it more difficult to get your site properly indexed however. Although the major search engines have improved their algorithms over the past couple of years to allow their spiders to index text content within Flash, the information collected is still not as complete as information that is able to be gathered from a non-Flash site. Flash simply does not offer up information as easily as HTML tags.

Flash splash pages (usually an all-Flash intro with only an Enter button into the actual site) are often the culprit when it comes to damaging rankings. Because more weight is given to the default page of a website, a site’s home page is often its most valuable web real estate. This real estate should be capitalized on by providing accessible, relevant content to visitors. Additionally, a Flash site almost always loads slower than a non-Flash site. Slower page-load times can result in lower page rankings and higher bounce rates for visitors.

There are also some additional issues to consider with an all-Flash site. Movements in Flash rarely correspond to unique URLs in the browser, which makes the act of link-sharing and bookmarking specific content more difficult for your users. And, while there are workarounds, unique URLs are also often necessary for effective use of web analytics programs such as HitsLink. Furthermore, with the ever-growing Smartphone market, an all-Flash site is liable to lose visitors due to incompatibility or long load-times. (This is particularly true for iPhone and iPad users, as these devices do not support Flash.)

Tips for Proper Flash Use:

  • Embed Flash within an HTML framework
  • Offer an HTML alterative to an all-Flash site
  • Liberally use metadata
  • Learn to optimize your Flash for the Adobe Search Engine SDK

To reiterate, it is not Flash itself that is bad, but rather the overuse or improper use of this technology. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is to use Flash to enhance a story, not to tell it.

(No Flash and still have poor organic rank? Check out Net Applications Professional Consulting Services.)

One Response to “Flash Attack: Is Flash Hurting Your Organic Rankings?”

  1. Steve says:

    Very Nicely Written! Nice POV too

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