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Search Engine Optimization and Flash

Developers are still enchanted by Flash.  It does some pretty wild things.  One place where many developers like to use Flash is on Splash pages and navigation. In doing so, they make it difficult for search engine spiders to crawl their web site.  You need to take into consideration the effects of implementing Flash technology on your site.  It can be both a virtue and a vice.

Making a Splash with Flash
One of the first SEO hurdles is a Splash Page with Flash.  How many times have you visited a web site and get a Flash loader?  In some cases you need to wait over 10 seconds to get something to load. Granted almost 50% of users in the US have high speed internet, but developers are abusing the bandwidth. Users don't want to wait that long.  In most cases a Flash presentation loads which is less than impressive.  If you are going to make people wait, make sure the wait if worth their time.

Secondly, Splash pages make it difficult for search engine spiders to crawl your site.  If you have a tremendous amount of content behind your Splash page you run the risk of it not being indexed properly.  My first recommendation is don't use Splash pages.  But, if you are going to use a Splash page make sure you have text links on the Splash page.  This will provide the spiders something to crawl.  Ideally, you should avoid the Splash page and take users directly to a home page.

Flashy Menus
There are several developers that like to utilize Flash for web site navigation.  Flash allows developers to add "bells and whistles" to their navigation.  The trade off comes in the form of SEO problems and usability.

Just like Flash on a Splash page, Flash navigation is difficult for search engine spiders to digest.  You might end up inadvertently hiding pages from search engines by using Flash navigation.  The simplest solution using text links to supplement each point of navigation.  Depending on your link depth this might not be practical.  If you have several points of navigation use text links for the main points of navigation. Another alternative can be found here: How to SEO Flash.

If you are using Flash for navigation make sure you test the usability.  I've seen users become quickly confused by difficult to use navigation.  Your navigation should be simple and to the point.  Never make users have to guess how to use something.  It might make sense to you, but you need to be certain it makes sense to them. Users like the simplicity of point and click.

Always be careful with how you implement Flash on your web site.  You can easily have a negative impact on your search engine rankings if you make it difficult to spider your web site.  If you do use Flash have text links that the spiders can crawl.

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