Saturday, November 25, 2006

To Flash or Not to Flash (that is the question)

To build a site entirely in flash, is a BIG “no no” from a search engine optimisation perspective.

Why? And yes I know that the search engines are getting better at indexing flash, BUT indexing a site is not the same as ranking well (now I don’t know how many times I have said this to the designers in my agency). Even though it can index the website the search engines still thinks it’s only one page to the whole site as flash movie is only one element. Now this makes search engine optimisation pretty tricky, you can load a bunch of alt tags, and I know you can add content into XML at the backend (but that would be cloaking..or would it?) Even if you can load all the content into XML it won’t be of the same value as if the content was in HTML. Basically you pretty much only have the title and meta tags for optimising content which limits you a great deal to how many keywords you can target.

There are also complications when it comes to running Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising going to a site that is built entirely in flash. Why? Because you can’t point the ads to a specific page of the site. All ads have to be pointed to the homepage. Now this can have massive implications on your conversion rate, if for example you are advertising a specific product through a PPC campaign and lead a customer straight to the homepage for themselves to AGAIN find the product, chances you are going to loose that customer.

Seriously, it’s a mystery to me why so many web designers still insists in making sites entirely in flash. Now don’t get me wrong, flash can be really cool, and to have a flash element on the homepage or even the sub pages I don’t mind at all. BUT there is a time and place, basically chose wisely. Don’t ever make a site entirely in flash just because it looks cool.

There is no point in having a really cool website if people can’t find it.

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At November 26, 2006 5:59 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article! I'm from Norway also, and doing SEO "stuff" in Los Angeles, CA. Snakker du norsk ogsaa? :-)

Best, Jon Rognerud

At November 26, 2006 8:28 am, Blogger Lisa Ditlefsen said...

Hei hei Jon,

Takk takk, ja jeg snakker norsk ogsaa =)

Do you visit any of the big american SEO forums? I recommend SEO refugee and Cre8asite Forums.

Will check out your site.


At November 29, 2006 8:56 am, Blogger Punit said...


Nice article... I would say sometime flash sites provide a rich media experience for visitors
And sometimes work as an advantage in PPC campaigns if the proper usability is maintained. But I would prefer to have plain html version too. While loading my flash animation I will detect weather the flash plug-in is installed or not. If not I will redirect user to my HTML version.



At March 22, 2007 3:06 pm, Blogger Fil NYC said...


Irregardless of a site bing copletely comprised of Flash or not, thank god for tools like SWFObject/UFO.

I know this post is a bit dated, but these tools help address the ranking part of the page and the code inline by providing a content rich "version" on the same page as the flash piece. The only caveat is, if you want to develop "pages" of content on a flash site, you need to break the flash into sections and embed them into seperate URL's - making sure to utilize the SWFObject/UFO code effectively to link relevant content and the like...

Just in case anyone wants to take a gander at my blog as well: Website SEO Blog. I would love to get feedback on the search marketing issues and website technologies that I discuss. Thanks for providing a very insightful blog Lisa!


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