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How to SEO Flash
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  1. How to SEO Flash Jonathan Hochman

  2. The Big Idea: Progressive Enhancement • Basic content and functionality should be available to all browsers • Browsers with additional capabilities can enjoy enhanced formatting (CSS), content (Flash), and functionality (JavaScript), optionally loaded from external files. >>> Sites that use PE are better prepared for SEO because of excellent accessibility.

  3. Use a JavaScript function, such as SWFObject, or UFO, to detect Flash Player. When available, replace primary HTML content with enhanced Flash content by modifying Document Object Model (DOM). Advanced tip: You may need to set WMODE transparent to make your Flash work with layers or CSS hover menus. If you need to fiddle with parameters like WMODE, check the SWFObject documentation to learn how.

  4. But does Flash Accessibility work? • Yes! Search engines read and index the primary content, and follow those links. • We’ve tested this programming method on dozens of sites with millions visitors.

  5. Adobe uses a version of SWFObject on their home page, as do many other high profile sites.

  6. Example: 99% Flash Page An SEO Nightmare

  7. Primary Content (No Flash)

  8. Google’s Text-only CacheShowing the primary content

  9. Search ResultsNote that Google has deep indexed the site

  10. Google Matches Keyword “Boats” in the Alternative Content

  11. Is this Spam or Cloaking? No! Flash accessibility isn't spamming if the primary content matches the visible Flash. Spam depends on intentions, not the choice of programming tools. Nor is this cloaking because we serve the same files to every visitor. Search engines can choose to read the primary content, or to analyze the Flash. There’s no deception. Basic content is necessary to build an accessible web. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) specifically states that multimedia content should have an alternative representation available.

  12. Will Search Engines Mistake this for Black Hat Trickery and Ban My Site? • It hasn’t happened yet. • Search engines aren’t looking to ban you. • Many users benefit from primary HTML content: • Corporate IT departments may block Flash • Mobile phone users don’t have Flash • Geeks often use Flash Blockers. • Search engines don’t rule the world. Do what’s right for your users. • Black hats have sneakier, faster tactics. They don’t need this.

  13. Provide more info on mouse over:

  14. Display multiple pictures in same space, simplifying layout:

  15. Use slide show to explain complex product:

  16. All-Flash Sites <Cringe/> • A Flash movie that simulates web pages isn’t a web site. A web site is a set of linked (X)HTML pages. • Without pages we can’t use page titles for SEO, nor can we link to specific content from outside the movie. • Resolution: Create (X)HTML pages, and install a Flash piece on each page.

  17. Does Flash Accessibility Programming Improve Rankings and Bottom Line Results? • It depends: • For competitive search terms, you need to do more than just use the keyword a few times. Flash SEO isn’t a magical solution. • Can produce search hits for “long tail” keywords that appear only in the Flash movie. • Can produce a more effective site with a higher conversion rate. • Avoids the need for duplicate HTML pages, saving development and maintenance costs.

  18. References Examples, code, discussion, mailing list and installation instructions are available: •, Jonathan Hochman •, to download SWFObject and join mailing list •, by Geoff Sterns •, Wikipedia page on Progressive Enhancement Contact: Jonathan Hochman