Search Engines and Flash

  Michendi 09:40 17 Jun 05

Assume that the first page of a site (index.htm) is a Flash intro. The code between the body> tags will typically consist of an object> tag that contains the code to load and display the Flash object.

Under these circumstances Search Optimisation tools and Search Engine Submission tools will interpret the body> tag as being "empty" and will consequently fail the optimisation and/or submission of the site.

It would be helpful if someone who was experienced in site optimisation and submission could provide a view as to how to best deal with the search optimisation and submission of a site where the first page is a Flash intro.

  Taran 23:42 24 Jul 05

There are a few ways to get around this, up to a point.

Flash and accessiblity are opposite sides of the coin in most cases, however...

Check out the Flash accessibility tools, which allow embeddable information to be included with your movie(s) which search engines and, to a far lesser extent, text readers can cope with.

You can also use an external text file to hold the text that your Flash movie displays. This can be forced (up to that point I mentioned at the beginning of the post) to be read by search engines.

Much though I hate to admit it, about the best way to render fully accessible websites is to ditch Flash entirely. The second best is to put a lot of extra time, thought and effort into your Flash work which can go a long way to allowing accessible Flash content to be produced.

Try these links:

click here

click here

click here

The last one has some really nice tips and tricks - well worth the read, but only you can answer whether or not it will be worth the effort.

Keep in mind that different browsers and screenreaders work in different ways and what may seem an idela solution for one setup may not work at al for others.

Test, test and test again.

My own recommendation is to lose the Flash intro movie. I've only ever seen one that actually added any value at all to the site it was on, and being as it was a showcase for the Flash animator whose website I was looking at...

Remove the Flash and put some nice, fully searchable/readable text on there with parhaps an image or two. Job done ;o)


  Forum Editor 00:34 25 Jul 05

Unless there's a very good reason to have a Flash intro I would ditch it in favour of a welcoming text/image index page. The index is your shop window, and people make a decision about whether to stay or go, based on the appearanceof your homepage. If they have to wait whist a Flash intro loads many of them will move on - I do it myself, and I'm on a fast ADSL connection.

My brother runs a well-known multi-media company, and I tried for a long time to talk him out of his all-Flash site. He finally caved in - probably to shut me up - and since going all html his traffic has climbed.

  Michendi 11:04 25 Jul 05

Taran. Thanks for the links, very interesting.

In principle I agree with both of your comments, but the reality is that "...the customer is always right..." and this is what some customers want. One may try - tackfully - to educate the customer that their requirement is perhaps not ideal but (as the Forum Editor has experienced with his brother) most customers have somewhat inflexible ideas. If you push your own view too strongly the customer simply believes that you are technically incapable of meeting their requirement and award the job to someone who will do their bidding.

On the positive side I am glad to find others who have struggled with this issue and who share my view.

Thanks again.

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