A simple, yet effective way of making Flash websites SEO friendly

The Problem

Conventional wisdom has always been that using Flash to create a website is a huge SEO No-No, and here’s why: When a search engine crawler comes to a web page, its mission is to read the text and follow the links to the other pages on the site. If the only thing on the page is an embedded flash object; then there is nothing for the crawler to read and nowhere for it to go. Ouch!

The Solution
Write the Flash object onto the page using JavaScript and replicate all the links and content that appear in the Flash version using regular HTML within the noscript tag! As long as the user has JavaScript enabled, they will see the Flash version of the site, and the search engines will be able to crawl through all the content and links found in the noscript tag. And there you have it — SEO friendly Flash!

To see how to embed Flash objects using JavaScript, please refer to example B in this “Making Flash Accessible” document published by the W3C.

The Conclusion
To be clear I still don’t recommend making entire websites out of Flash, but the above technique can be used, not only as a way to make a Flash site SEO friendly but also to make them much more accessible to users with disabilities. I have always advised people that Flash elements are significant as a part of the page, as long as they are not the whole page. I still stand by that advice and feel that this technique is more of a Band-Aid than a cure (for many reasons) and should really only be used as a last resort for when a designer or a client (or both) have fallen in love with their fantastic Flash website and won’t listen to reason, or as an alternative to completely rebuilding a site in the name of SEO.

A Word of Caution
If you are going to use this technique, I would advise not deviating at all from what has been outlined here, as other similar things are floating around out there that amount to what is known as cloaking, a black hat SEO technique that could get a website banned. I recommend that you consult with us SEO Inc 760-929-0039 to ensure that this is correctly implemented.

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