How can websites built in Flash rank highly in search engines?

Search Engine Rankings & Flash sites

Website rankings for flash sites is a challenge that most website owners tend to discover after the fact – pay for a aesthetically pleasing new website, then discover the need for SEO and how flash websites conflict with Google crawlers. Securing good rankings for your flash website is difficult, but not totally impossible.

The trick to using flash websites in conjunction with an SEO strategy is not to use 100% flash – try a hybrid or HTML alternative. Or where you do use flash, all the other elements of your SEO strategy need to be spot on including inbound link building, internal linking structure and optimising your meta description, title tags and ALT image tags.

If you don’t specifically need a flash website, then don’t use one. It makes securing rankings harder as Google has no content to index. However we have seen plenty of websites (photographers in particular) who have websites built entirely in flash and still ranking at the top of Google – mainly due to impressive PageRank which comes primarily from their comprehensive linking structure. Getting there through linking alone will take time, but it can be done.

Is it possible to get a flash website ranking at the top of Google SERPs?

A 100% flash website all embedded in one HTML page, faces serious SEO challenges. This is because search engines view the entire site as one single webpage because Googlebots are unable to crawl the pages within flash as they can’t access your flash file properly, only the surrounding html file that its embedded in.

In reality the content that a search engine spider extracts from a Flash file is pretty different from what the site visitors get to see. For example a simple Flash animation displaying a line of moving text can be read by human visitors as a single instance of text, but to the search engine spider, it does not so marketers using flash sites are unable to optimise different pages for different (targeted) keywords. There is also no way of optimising internal pages as the Googlebots essentially see the entire site as one HTML page.

Linking to interior pages is also a problem with the flash site – they are forced to link up with the homepage instead. This means that flash website owners cannot take advantage of ‘deep-links’ or links to relevant web pages (according to the targeted keywords).

If users are taken to the homepage and not the relevant web page they may have to hunt for the right content within the flash site which maybe troublesome (as flash sites are usually quite heavy in file size this task increases their workload un-necessarily). This can often result in the searcher getting impatient and opting to return to the Google SERP to try an alternative website

Improving the SEO prospects of flash websites for better search rankings

While rankings success is difficult with flash sites, it’s not impossible. Here are some proven SEO strategies to improve the rankings of a purely Flash site:

Create HTML alternatives: A HTML alternative is probably the best option for improving SEO for Flash sites. This involves creating alternative content in HTML which helps search engines by providing a readable alternative of the flash site, thus allowing you to rank for key phrases in your content. It can also serve as an alternative site for web users without flash plugins enabled.

Split the website: Break apart the flash file and then rebuild the site by moving the major pages to their own HTML page. Flash elements can be included as needed on each page. All pages of hybrid HTML/Flash site can be indexed by the search engine crawlers, allowing better rankings.

Have separate URLs: If you don’t want to break apart your Flash file, you can still leverage the benefits of having separate URLs.

Increase Inbound Links: Optimised anchor text on external sites, linking to your site will have a positive impact, especially links from pages with strong Google PageRanks.

These are just a few tips to help securing better website rankings for flash sites. There are certain industries where using a flash site is entirely necessary but unless you actually need animation, video or high quality imagery, it makes more sense to avoid flash if you intend to engage in a search engine optimisation strategy with a view to ranking highly on Google.

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