Flash Still Not Seen By Search Engines – Update 2011

Reading Jill Whalen’s lastest email newletter and one of my favorite topics came up.  How well do search engines index Flash sites or Flash on sites. I always tell people that if they really want interactivity on their sites there are other ways to accomplish this including JQuery. Unfortunately marketing departments everywhere are still madly in love with Flash as are some designers so it remains popular. This despite Falsh’s apparent flaws from both a back end and user standpoint.

Reasons to use Adobe Flash with Caution

  1. Flash is expensive to build, even off-shore
  2. Flash is usually not easily updated by a marketing or content group unless a complex and usually expensive back end is built.
  3. Even with a custom back end making changes still becomes a programing exercise which takes time and more money
  4. Flash does not show up on every device, notably the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.
  5. It sometimes leads designers down a path that results in creations that are not user friendly.

The Main Reason Not to Use Flash on Your Main Message –

Most Flash is Still Highly Invisible to Google!

If you want to be found for your main message there is nothing like text or at least images with alt tags. As Jill points out every year someone announces that Flash is now indexed by the major search engines. Here is what Jill did to test.

To test this, I went directly to some Flash sites and pasted exact words contained within their Flash into Google (using quotes). Result? Most of the sites did not show up in the search results. When I reviewed the source code of two sites that did show up, I found that one was using the phrase I looked for within their Meta description and the other site had lots of text within the code beneath the Flash so that search engines and browsers without Flash would have some meaningful info. While that’s a good alternative, the info they had was very different from the info contained in their Flash. That’s a bit of a dangerous game to play with the search engines, if you ask me. If that info is good enough for search engines and iPhones, why isn’t it good enough for your most important users?

Overall the key take-away was and still is that Flash used carefully can be useful in some limited cases. But if you want to be sure your site is found, and who dosen’t, then proceed with caution if at all.

You can find Jill’s site here

How do you use Flash on your sites?

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