SES Chicago 06: Flash and Search Engines

Filed in Conferences/Educ., SEO, Web Design by Matt McGee on December 6, 2006 5 Comments

SES ChicagoHere are my notes from the Wednesday, 11 am session titled “Flash and Search Engines.” We’re in the same room as we were for the “Images and Search Engines” session, but there are about 3x the people in attendance.

Shari Thurow, Grantastic Designs

* for those who must do Flash sites, link development will be crucial
* don’t use hidden text on a Flash page
* Macromedia’s SDK is not the magic solution
– most Flash files don’t have much text
– text in Flash files is usually not useful content
– poor URL structure — URL’s don’t change, so all pages have same page title, etc.

Tips:
- link development counts
- split up pages; create multiple pages with Flash embedded in each
- optimize each Flash movie with appropriate title and content
- think Flash movies, not Flash sites
- of have to do a Flash site, also do an HTML version
- convert your Flash files to HTML and see what a spider sees
— don’t rely on Flash-based navigation

Good reason to use Flash: genuinely useful content
Bad reason: boss thinks Flash is cool

Jonathan Hochman, JE Hochman & Associates

* gonna take a contrary view and say you can use as much Flash as you want and still rank
* big idea: Progressive Enhancement
— basic content and functionality is provided for all users
— CSS, Flash, etc. added to enhance for those who can view these things

Progressive Enhancement
- start with primary HTML content in a DIV with unique ID attribute
- use program such as SWFObject or UFO to detect a Flash player
- when Flash player is installed, use program to identify Flash player and show Flash content

Is this spam/cloaking?
- no; Flash accessibility isn’t spam if the primary content matches the visible Flash
- not cloaking because the same content is served to all visitors
- W3C recommends alternative versions of multimedia content for accessibility
- “Search engines don’t rule the world; do what’s right for your users.”

All-Flash sites
- a Flash movie that simulates web pages isn’t a web site
- better: create separate pages and install Flash movies on each page

(has article on jechochman.com about SEO Friendly Flash)

Gregory Markel, Infuse Creative

Pre-design Phase
- before you get into design, develop the keyword marketing plan
- let the keyword marketing steer your design

* Flash sites are often only 1-2 pages deep, a serious blow against keyword opportunity for ecommerce/business sites
* Have to find a happy medium: Are you trying to succeed in online marketing, or are you trying to win Flash design awards?
* Flash can be a problem for PPC in a Quality Score world — can’t connect the ad keyword to the deep section of the Flash movie

Jim McFadyen, Critical Mass

(last-minute speaker, so no presentation, go through live web site samples instead)

www.scottschiller.com
- follows all rules of SEO optimization
- uses javascript and CSS for presentation

www.rolex.com/en/
- soon to be relaunched in complete Flash in a presentation layer with CSS/Javascript enhancements
- uses noframes and noscript

www.orange-project.com
- uses javascript to allow bookmarking and linking because URLs change

Q&A

Dan Crow, Google
- we don’t like to remove people from the index unless you’re doing something nefarious; the techniques described today, esp. by Jonathan, are the right way to handle Flash; use Flash embedded into HTML rather than all-Flash sites

Shari T.
- users don’t like Flash; they may like it once, but not more than that
- test it with your users; don’t assume that people want it

Jonathan
- there are valid reason to use Flash, but many designers do Flash sites just because they can

Jim
- the bad Flash designers are ruining Flash for the good designers

[Ed. note: We are getting into a very heated discussion here about Flash!! Moderator Detlev Johnson has stepped in to play peacemaker.]

Gregory
- we’re in an industry held accountable by metrics
- the marketing objectives have to determine the design
- if client wants branding, a full rich media site is great

Jim
- Safari has some issues with the deeplinking techniques
- as long as you stay within the site, it should be just fine

[tags]seschicago06, ses, flash, macromedia, seo[/tags]

Comments (5)

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  1. christa says:

    SEO and FLASH, I have have not been able to get it to work yet? I just took a class at http://heavywebtraffic.com for seo and it was great! THey did not go over Flash site seo but they said it was not a good thing when it comes to seo content, since content is king along with links and a lot of other stuff involved but is there something else we can do for flash sites? I have many flash sites that i have designe and they are no where to be found in GOOGLE:( my other sites with php are doing great?

  2. Matt McGee says:

    Christa, Flash sites do not rank well, generally speaking. The tips discussed in this post are really the “best practices.” You my need to create a separate, non-flash version of the site — an HTML version for search engine spiders. (And for humans, too, since a great many people don’t like Flash sites and splash pages.)

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