How to optimise a Flash based website

The argument in the web development community about whether Flash SEO is possible has finished: Google flash optimisation can happen. If you have a site that has been written primarily in Flash you can get the attention of the Google web bots either by creating HTML versions of your site’s pages, or by paying attention to the things in your Flash files that Google can index.

  • Start with the swfobject file. This little Javascript file will check to see if your visiting browser can view Flash: if not, it will call up alternative content instead. Creating HTML versions of your pages for non Flash browsers will allow search engines to see your site in the same way that they see other, non Flash sites.
  • Consider changing your site completely: make it HTML based with Flash movies embedded. That way your site looks like a "normal" site to a search engine spider, but it works like a Flash site for a user.
  • Google cannot index anything non-textual in your Flash files. It can index any text it finds in them. So make that text count. Remember too that where your Flash script calls for external content to be loaded, Google will index that separately. This may create a duplication issue for Google.
  • Don’t use Flash where you don’t have to. Google flash optimisation works on the same principle as all site optimisation: simplest is best. There’s no need to build a whole page out of Flash when you really just need the movie that explains how your product works.
  • If you use Flash for specific text enhancement (i.e. Flash specific fonts) then make use of the SIFR (Scalable Inman Flash Replacement) tool to replace your HTML text elements with Flash equivalents. Note: this only works for text. Interactive elements and movies can’t be helped here.
  • Use basic SEO good practice for your Flash SEO. That means using descriptive titles with keywords or phrases embedded in them. Make good use of meta descriptions by using condensed and well aimed marketing messages. Putting a call to action in your meta descriptions will help.
  • You can put a noembed tag in every URL on your Flash site and dump the whole HTML equivalent in there. If the HTML is properly optimised and complete, content and navigation combined, you should get a similar effect to that achieved with the swfobject file.

Where your site is 100% Flash you need to find a way to get the search engine to treat it as though it actually consists of multiple pages. Again the swfobject file crops up. If the spider can’t read Flash, the swfobject file will be able to redirect it to an alternative version of your site: one created in HTML with all the proper tags, links, deep links and optimal keyword concentration. Break the guiding rule of all non Flash SEO – treat search engine spiders like human users – and you’ll be able to create successful Google Flash optimisation strategies for 100% Flash sites. The web spiders get sent to a site that the human user never sees – a faithful copy of the content and thrust of your Flash site, but rendered in a multi page HTML structure instead.

If you need help with Flash optimisation, Get in Touch with Bullseye Media.