Part 1 of a 2 part series.
I feel it is my duty to respond to the false inferences being blogged about by Mr. Franklin concerning search engine placement, and technologies used for web sites. Please keep in mind I am human and could be mis-interpreting his words, as well as the exchanges that happened over at FlashApe’s place.
HTML, Flash, HTML+Flash?
In the above context, arguing whether all Flash, html, or html-flash hybrid solutions are best is out of context, and there is no logic saying one is better than the other… unless you slant it towards a specific problem your trying to solve, in which case each solution has it’s pros and cons to solving a specific problem.
Flash and Search Engine Placement
Now for the second point.
All HTML sites can be placed on search engines and it is easy to do so, even with no actions taken to help improve your standing.
All Flash sites can be placed on search engines, but it is not as easy to do so.
For example, I have some pros and cons concerning my site and it’s search engine placement dealing with certain terms.
– all HTML
– true, real, and re-occuring content
– have hidden form fields
– no meta tags
– old title did not start with Flash, but rather my name
– no robots.txt file
– very little title tags on my elements
– non-well-formed site
Even with all of that stacked against me, I am still well placed for certain terms regarding the usage of Flash; my target demographic in my caring for search engine placement.
If I were to re-do my site in all Flash, I would have to take a more proactive role, but there is no reason I could not be on par, or far exceed my current rankings; it is simply more work.
Mr. Franklin had some in regards to using an all Flash site compared to other methods:
“If you still feel all-Flash is the way to go, well, in your case you may be right. But please consider the major traffic ramifications that come from doing so. It can be a real wake-up call when you see Web stats flatlining!”
He is correct if you do nothing, just like I have from my HTML site. But there is a lot you can do, and that negates his statement standing alone (even in context, go read his blog entry to confirm). Flash sites do not have to flat line in search engine placement, and can be just as high as their all HTML counterparts.
I’ll go in my detail in part 2 which will hopefully come out in mid-september. For now, I’ll repeat some of the things I mentioned above as well as things that a Flash developer can do to help her or his site along. Again, these are proactive things one must do, but are not hard at all if done in the planning phases of a project.
– make your page well-formed/XHTML compliant, ecspecially with embedding Flash
– use meta tags
– have your domain name include the content of your site
– use a robots text file to inform search engines what to do
– use a 7 word title. When repeating keywords, do not repeat the keyword in the same tense. For example, “Flash” and “Flashing” is ok, but not “Flash” and “Flash MX”.
– use the title attribute for real content on tags beyond anchor tags (img, table, td, lits, etc.)
– find keywords and other tags that compeitor sites are using to reach the top of the search engine stack, and base yours around theirs
– all content that can be placed outside of the SWF, the better. For HTML and/or text, put into external HTML files and load via LoadVars. Same goes for XML.
– for static text, make a copy of all textfields used (based on categories) and paste into a new FLA on the stage. Publish out, grab the HTML tags that Flash generates for content “used in this movie”, and place where applicable to your embedded Flash content.
– when loading external SWF’s or JPEG’s, make sure the names of files are preceded with whatever term is most important. For example, “iRobot_willsmith.jpg” and “yourname_mycar.swf”.
Hopefully I’ll have more quantifiable, and hard data in the weeks to come after I’ve finished a research project on it. The bottom line is, an “all Flash” site can be made in such a way to be high in search engine placement. Whether one should use an all Flash site depends on the goal of the project, not about how search engines decide to place the site based on it being Flash or not. It’s a technology decision based on solving the problem at hand, not about favoring the technology.
– Frankie Loscavio, Search Engine Consultant
– Search Engine Consultant from the Williamsburg Macromedia User’s Group