Why flash websites are not good for seo, and other reasons not to have a flash website.

by Raymond Santopietro Google

Many times clients will request a “flash based website design” or a “flash site.” We always discourage the use of flash as the entire structure of a website, and instead attempt to utilize it only sparingly, due to the limitations and problems that it has. Quite simply, there is nothing wrong with using a flash website structure if your project is for no purpose except for branding your business, and the only people who will be viewing it will be in a controlled environment that you are present. As soon as you allow people to view the site on their own, or are using the site for more than a purpose of “being cool looking,” the problems begin to arise.

Google itself discourages the use of flash on websites. This is due to the fact that Google has problems understanding the content of a flash website and will probably not fully index the site for the proper terms that are associated with the information contained on it. This is due to flash being essentially a movie running within a window. Google can understand only text and code, and must use text and code to make decisions as to the purpose of this website. If all Google can see is a movie window, and the small amount of code associated with the window, it then knows absolutely nothing about what is actually happening in the movie, and therefore cannot index the website for the content that you have placed in the movie format. If the site is about selling a product, Google has no way of knowing what the product is, how it is used, or any other information. All Google can see is that there is a movie running on this website. As far as search engine optimization goes, it is far from the best scenario. Good search engine optimization companies are in the business of creating the best scenario for Google to understand what is going on in the site, and limiting the amount of information that it can read just makes the job more difficult.

As a client, you must weigh the pros and cons of flash in order to make an informed decision as to its use. Please review the following lists to see if a flash website is what is right for your project.

Pros of Flash:

1. Artistic display. It gives you the ability to control text display, colors, music and motion in a way that HTML websites cannot.

2. Branding. It has the ability to immerse the user in a dynamic experience that cannot be gained with regular website code.

Cons of Flash:

1. Flash is not able to be read at all on many devices, like iphones or any handheld device made by Apple. This is due to the fact that Apple devices do not include a flash reader.

2. Although Flash is able to be understood by many browsers, there are equal amounts that cannot read it.

3. Load times of Flash websites are significantly larger than seo optimized websites that are coded in HTML. This will cause longer times that the potential viewer is waiting for the site to load in.

4. Images cannot be saved on flash sites by viewers. While this prevents honest viewers from saving your content, it also discourages the sharing of your content with others. This supposed protection is not worth the detriments because there are ways to capture images from flash, and if someone wants to do it they still can.

5. Scrolling is problematic in flash.

6. Keystrokes do not function properly in flash.

7. Searching text within the content almost never works in most browsers.

8. Check boxes and radio buttons do not function properly in flash.

9. Flash elements are not scalable, so if it is not properly sized for the device it is being viewed on, the viewer will only see part of the content.

10. Flash requires more resources to run than HTML. It is very problematic in Linux.

11. It is an seo killer. If you need to have indexing on search engines, flash will not provide the results you need.

Although flash does have certain uses for branding, it is far better to experiment with limited use on sites within small portions, and allow the rest of the site to exist in standard code language that can be understood. This will allow for the site to be viewed without issue on the majority of devices and browsers, without severely limiting the message that is gained by the viewer. Simply, if the majority of people can’t see it, then don’t use it.

Your marketing needs “focus”…