Flash Sites Need Spiderable Content

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Categories: Adobe Flash, SWFObject, Search Engine Optimization SEO

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Imagine this, you’re a Web Designer or Graphic Designer straight out of college, you’ve bought yourself a domain (with your name in it of course) and some hosting. You’ve been taught quite a bit of Adobe Flash and put together a gorgeous portfolio site. You search yourself on Google a few weeks later, your page is buried deep on page 4, or worse, not there. What’s missing?

Search Engine Spiders + Flash = Bad

When a Search Engine spider (a bot on the internet that searches for websites and their content) comes across your website, it seems your website similarly to if you visited your website and viewed the HTML source. If your site is composed simply of a CSS stylesheet, a title tag and a flash file, that’s not much information to give to a Search Engine. Search Engines feed off website information and if it’s not given to them, you’re the one that loses.

Sure, you can say that being found on Google (or any other Search Engine) isn’t important to you, but when someone might have seen your portfolio in an interview and forgot your website URL, they might avoid the phone call and search you up on Google. If you’re not up there at the top, simply because you didn’t feel like dedicating the time to creating alternate, spiderable content, that’s too bad. Someone else might end up getting the design contract.

Making a Flash Alternate

The last thing a spider cares about is how pretty your site looks. That should be the last thing on your mind.

Thankfully, SWFObject makes it very easy to implement alternate non-Flash content. Briefly, how SWFObject works is that if the Flash Player requirement is met, it displays the Adobe Flash file in a DIV you specified, if not, the original DIV contents is left intact. What a perfect opportunity! You can download SWFObject at deconcept and/or look at past articles.

I Can’t Fit Flash Alt Content on One Page

Of course you can’t. Look at the approach I took. My portfolio site (made in Adobe Flash) is composed of three main sections: Home, Portfolio and Contact. What I did was I started with three pages: index.html, portfolio.html and contact.html.

In each of those pages, I litterally Copied & Pasted the content from my Flash file. Now that I have the content completed, I threw in links that help link to and from each page so that Search Engine spiders can follow the links and accumulate content.

One thing to keep in mind, if for some reason someone search Patrick Burt Contact on Google and ended up at the Contact page, I inserted my portfolio site on each HTML file I created so that a stranger would never have to bear the unformatted text.

What about Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization, is a giant topic all to itself. If you’re looking on more information on Search Engine Optimizing your Flash site’s alternate content, I’ve written a few articles about it. For some quick tips: stick your name in the TITLE tag, stick it in the H1 tag, and use it in the body copy.

Good luck.

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2 Responses to “Flash Sites Need Spiderable Content”

  1. Ryan Stewart Says:

    Good post, and it’s nice to see your real world experience with your portfolio site. What else can we (Adobe) do better on the Flash SEO side? Any thoughts? It’s something we’re trying to work on, so I’d love to hear what you think. Feel free to drop me an email.


  2. Patrick Burt Says:

    Hi Ryan, appreciate the comment, I’m sending you an email as we speak with my comments and suggestions.