Optimizing Flash for humans & robots

September 13, 2010 by SEOP Blog Team

mozillarobots Optimizing Flash for humans & robots

Despite Apple’s apparent aversion towards its usage on their latest mobile operating system, Flash will always be known to us as a very powerful and versatile tool for creating user interfaces. And so we often see a wealth of richly rendered animations and dynamic Web sites showing its capabilities. It does more than mold your site to be eye-catching; it enhances the overall usability of each page.

On the flipside though, Flash is not really SEO-friendly as search engines find it difficult to crawl to find actual content to index. As a result, most sites with Flash as their main backbones are plainly tricky to rank though Google has come a long way in this regard, improving indexing on Flash sites a couple of years ago.

Be that as it may, it’s always best to help the search engine robots along and find ways around Flash’s…er, flashy trappings. Here are a few Flash SEO basics to make sure your Flash-based site is appealing to both human eyes and search engine crawlers.

Put it in its place
It’s fine to use Flash-enabled elements liberally within the site-animated gifs to balance a page’s layout, perhaps embedded Flash players to show videos contents, an interactive game or maybe a clickable button or two. And that’s exactly where Flash should remain: components of a site instead of being the backbone running the show. Relegate it for these uses (among many others) and let HTML, Javascript or CSS handle most of the site functionalities.

Give your visitors a choice
If you feel you really need to develop a Flash-oriented Web site, always create a secondary non-Flash site. An auxiliary HTML-based site gives search engine crawlers something to index and rank on their results pages. They also allow your visitors an option to jump past what they may deem unnecessary site accoutrements and head straight for the meat of your pages, your content. Not everyone has the time or the patience to wait for your multitude of Flash elements to load. Even more so if you have a video/animation intro after loading your landing page, in which case always offer a SKIP option.

Inject meta tags & keywords
Just like optimizing your common HTML-based Web site, the lines of codes within your Flash pages should also be injected with the proper meta data to help search engines robots along. For instance, always fill in the relevant keywords within the <TITLE> tags as well as in the descriptions and keywords tags. Some Flash development tools will even prompt you to supply the correct meta data to these tags.

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