In June of last year, Google announced they had improved their indexing of Flash files – and web designers around the globe rejoiced. Many web designers love flash because it frees them from the creative shackles of HTML and can give them the “WOW” factor when presenting new websites to clients.
Unfortunately, while flash sites may look great, they’re a nightmare when it comes to SEO. Google’s improvements in flash indexing did help some flash sites to rank, but most of the fundamental problems with flash still remain.
Below are 4 reasons why I believe small business owners should avoid building flash based websites.
1. Different Content is not on Different URLs
Because your content is all contained within a single SWF file, there are no additional pages for Google to index and this severely impacts things like bookmarking your site, analytics etc.
2. Basic SEO Tags are Still Missing
While Google can read text from within SWF files, most of the time, basic SEO tags will be lost. Examples of these are link anchor text, H1/H2 tags, image alt tags and bold text. Missing these tags is going to have a negative impact on your ranking.
3. Not All Browsers Have Flash Installed
If the user does not have flash installed, or is using a device that doesn’t support flash (eg: Apple’s iPhone) the content is going to be lost completely.
4. Flash Doesn’t Receive a Lot of Links
There are a number of reasons why flash sites don’t earn as many links as HTML pages. Some of these reasons include:
- Less social media links because users can’t link to content within your site.
- Less blog/news links because users can’t easily quote your text.
- Less one way links from resource websites because specific content is not on a separate URL
Overall, I believe the benefit of building a slightly more interactive flash based website is far outweighed by the negative SEO impact it can have. If your website designer is determined to use flash, ask them to use it sparingly rather than designing your entire site with it.
Thanks to SEOmoz and Search Engine Land for some great insight on this topic.