Since I have started this siteblog, a couple of friends of mine have been asking me about the possibilities of optimizing Flash sites. While Flash sites are great to include sound, video, and pictures, flash files are too complex for search engine crawlers to understand, which makes it very difficult to index flash sites, as opposed to HTML pages that contain plain text. A site built entirely with Flash suffers a great disadvantage because it will lack page structure to organize the content, the internal linking, and its unique page titles. Also, you need to consider that as of 2008, search engines are mainly dependent on text to understand the meaning of pages. So if you have a flash site, the probability is that its content will be heavy on images and interactive features, and too light on text. Not great.
Nevertheless, It is not my aim here to undermine Flash sites. I actually find that Flash sites great to present complex content as they allow for more content on a page without disturbing the page design. They are great to present slide shows or movies to clearly explain a product. And also, certain industries like the arts and entertainment that have a real need for multimedia, find in flash technology the perfect solution to expose their works.
So what can be done if you have a flash site, but wish to be well ranked in search engines position results?
A simple thing you can start doing is input metadata to your flash content. That includes titles, descriptions and keywords for your content. Even though meta tags are not as important as they used to be, crawlers will still read them, which will help the indexation of your flash content in search results.
Another thing that can be considered is to create distinct HTML pages to present each Flash page. This way, when a visitor requests a page, they will see Flash, but crawlers will read the HTML version.
Finally, you can build up quality backlinks to your Flash site. Backlinks are great to underline site relevancy. And for competitive queries, Google’s relevancy algorithms are all about linkage data. Take the case of La Maison du Chocolat, an entirely designed Flash site. But even though it is in Flash, when typing the keyword “chocolate”, the most relevant keyword for a company dealing with chocolate, it ranks in Google’s front page result. How? When performing a backlink check on this site, I identified 466 links targeting it, and most of the originating sites of the links where relevant with chocolate (meaning that their content was primarily about chocolate related keywords). So if you have a Flash site promoting lets says footwear, you want to get as many quality links originating from sites that have content talking about this subject.
If you can’t bother to do all of the above, then you always have the paid advertising solution. Research and buy relevant keywords / expressions, and you’ll get to the top of Google’s front page search result.
So if your site is entirely Flash designed, you now know where to start to get those desired rankings to increase your visibility.