Web Marketing: Avoid Flash Pages to Stay Visible to Search Engines - dummies

Web Marketing: Avoid Flash Pages to Stay Visible to Search Engines

By John Arnold, Michael Becker, Marty Dickinson, Ian Lurie, Elizabeth Marsten

Adobe Flash is a great way to create beautiful, interactive animations for your web marketing site. Unfortunately, search engines can’t read Flash animations for the following reasons:

  • Search engines don’t have the Flash plug-in. Remember, search engines visit your website as a super-simple web browser. Flash is a plug-in that viewers have to add to their web browsers — without it, they can’t see any of your Flash content. Search engines don’t have that plug-in built into their software, so they typically can’t read any of the content.

  • Flash compiles links, fonts, and structural information differently than a typical HTML page. So even if a search engine does manage to read the content, it may read it as gibberish.

  • Flash is often used to load multiple pages of text, videos, and other motion graphics onto a single HTML webpage. That creates the same problems as Ajax, by hiding all but the very first snippet of information from visiting search engines.

  • Flash doesn’t work on any of Apple’s iOS devices, including iPads. Do you really want to cut yourself off from all those users?

You can still use Flash animations. The old Portent Interactive homepage is a good example.


You might be using Flash in a way that could hurt your SEO efforts. Pay attention to the following warning signs:

  • Visitors click from page to page on your website from within Flash, without actually going to a new page.

  • When you view the page using Yellowpipe Lynx Viewer, you see a blank page, or your page doesn’t show large amounts of text.

  • Your designer can’t look you in the eye when you ask whether the website is SEO ready.

Designers often use Flash because it’s the only way they know to get just the right fonts on the web. However, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are advanced enough to let designers get almost the same look and feel with a regular HTML page.