Flash has probably one of the very worst names among SEOs (People who do SEO for a living). The thing is that SEOs have been yelling at their Clients and in house SEOs freak out when design teams present flash sites. Newbie SEOs also have a panic attack when they hear the word flash site as Flash Scripts are apparently the root of all evil when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. The truth is that although Flash cannot be seen by most of the Search Engines so it isn’t as friendly, Flash sites aren’t bad for SEO, it is sites that are 100% flash that are not as easy to optimize and definitely not ideal for any site that wants good rankings or doesn’t have a huge budget to buy backlinks. Let me explain this and give a couple of tips on how to optimize a flash site.
Flash scripts should be looked at as similar to images. They are pretty and they can help deliver a visual message about your site or product. You can even use flash to create a banner or images that changes to different messages and has unique deep links into your site to help your visitors find the specific special you talk about in your flash. The problem is that some people decide to do the entire homepage or worst case scenario the whole site in flash. Since the search engines have trouble finding and reading flash scripts, the copy and content of your site gets lost since nothing is there to clearly define what the site is about. Although you can see what is there because you have working eyes, a spider or bot cannot see but can only read what it finds, mostly in text (I’m excluding meta tags, etc… for now) since that is what it is looking for. So what can you do to get the spiders to know what your site is about? Simple, treat your flash like an image and put copy on the site and homepage as well.
By using the flash as a banner or half banner or large box, but also putting in copy and wording next to it, above it, to the side and below, etc… you’ll not only get to have the beautiful flash script you wanted, but you’ll also be able to continue to tell the search engines what your site is about and they will be able to better index you. This also allows you to better compete with your site against your competitors in their databases and in the SERPs. The thing to watch out for is the “Marketing Guru’s” and “Design Firms” who want to defend your company or Client’s brand so they pretend to know about SEO and convince your client that they can make both you and them happy so they try to put the copy in the same color lettering as the background color of your site. Not only is this an old SEO keyword stuffing trick, but it is seriously easy to catch and can easily damage your rankings and listings. Just remember to not to try to game the engines or hide your copy but by using the flash as you would an image and keeping your copy, you have found a happy medium to making your site. It can still be cool, modern and interactive to keep the design firm happy and you will also have made your SEO happy because they have their copy and content which is the #1 most important thing with SEO. Now, suppose you run into the stubborn Client that could care less because they are paying you to optimize them and not to give input on what their site should look like (because we all know design has nothing to do with Marketing, SEO and Conversion optimization). Then you have a problem on your hands because they want the 100% flash site and you have to get them to show up for the terms they think will convert. Don’t worry because although your job is a million times harder now, it can still be done. Just go back to your basics.
Internal Links, Backlinks and PR.
If the homepage is completely in flash but your other pages have content, use that content to build internal links pointing your most important phrases back to the homepage. This is the first step in telling the spiders about what the homepage and site is about. You can also use your site map to your advantage with this if you need the spiders to crawl the site and not have to rely on the homepage to enter. Equally as important if not more important is your baclinking structure (this is only an importance level for this situation, not in general).
Your backlinks are second only to content in SEO and with a flash site or flash homepage, these are key. They tell the spiders what your site is about and also tell it that you are the expert on the topic. You will need these to be successful with getting your site to rank but your SEO plan will rely almost 70 to 80% on these and in this case you may have to buy many of them. You just have to make sure you get them to launch in a natural pattern so that the search engines don’t pick up that you are buying them and trying to buy their rankings instead of earning them through people loving you and wanting to link to you naturally. Press Releases are also great for boosts on backlinks, but to get the quality ones from them you have to do a press release that will also cause people to pick up your story and give natural links. You don’t just want the links from the wire sites and syndication sites as those are to easy to map and not as valuable. The other thing which is a PR basic is to make sure you have something interesting to say about your site or topic and not just you or your company and then hopefully your press release will find the bloggers and webmasters who also like the topic and give you backlinks. Don’t be afraid to source and put the links into your release either as that is a great way to make sure that the people who pick it up know to give you credit and not your competitors.
Flash sites can be gorgeous and very appealing. The thing is that although flash is not completely SEO friendly, flash sites can be SEO friendly as long as you don’t do flash only site and include content on all pages and keep backlinks coming in.