Does Your Site Have An All Flash Home Page?
Are you a lover of Flash programming? Is your home page dedicated entirely to a Flash movie? If so, did you know that this presents problems to search engines since they cannot read the images? Whilst it is true that search engines have improved their interpretation (crawling and indexing) of the content and code within Flash files, these can still stymie your online marketing efforts. Google has provided some guidelines on the use of Flash in their webmaster support centre.
The page on most websites that has the best potential to rank highly for the most valuable keywords is very often the home page. This is because it is usually at the home page where the vast majority of your back links will be pointing. Therefore, dedicating the home page entirely to Flash, is maximising the handicap from a search engine point of view.
Lovers of Flash, will say that a site should be built for human consumption and not for search engines but this argument is fatally flawed since without search engines, there may be no human visitors. Since search engines are the vehicles that deliver visitors, no search engines = no traffic.
So, do you need to avoid Flash altogether? Well no but, if you are intent on using Flash, just make sure you don’t overdo it and make sure there’s still plenty of textual content on the page for the search engines to read and interpret. Simply being aware that there are disadvantages should mean that you can make a well informed decision about whether the advantages you perceive for your visitors outweigh the disadvantages of Flash.
One of my favourite Flash examples is used by Advanced Watertek LLC [please note that they have replaced their website since this article was first published] who are manufacturers of custom designed reverse osmosis desalination systems. Since the whole site is about water and watermakers, a Flash section depicting the properties and fluid dynamics of water is a fantastic way of engaging the visitor at a glance. And moving your mouse over the various sections disturbs the fluid which brings it to life and makes you want to jump right in.
Who would choose to give that up? Especially since there’s plenty of textual content elsewhere on the page.
If asked about using Flash I usually say that if you aren’t already using it then it’s probably best not to start. If you are already using it, then there’s no need to give it up provided it’s in moderation because, in moderation, the advantages may outweigh the disadvantages. However, if your home page is entirely devoted to Flash, then it’s probably a good time to get some advice about the implications that your website design is having on your search engine marketing.
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