I’m no web developer and I have never ever made use of any Flash except the odd copy and paste third party service. I know well enough that for most of what I do online I don’t need pretty movies, text will suffice, however I realise a lot of you out there probably do use Flash or might want to and with broadband proliferating flash could become something we should consider (good examples are for instructional how-to movies – nothing teaches quite like a movie teaches).
A quick definition of Flash in case you have no idea what I am talking about (it has nothing to do with naked people in trench coats):
Wikipedia: Flash files (or “Movies”), which usually have an SWF file extension, may appear in a web page for viewing in a web browser, or for “playing” in the standalone Flash Player. Flash files occur most often as animations, advertisements or design elements on web pages and, more recently, Rich Internet Applications. A Flash file can contain more diverse information than a GIF or JPEG file of the same size.
You can check out some very neat and funny Flash movies at one of my favourite procrastination sites from my university days – HomeStarRunner.
Jennifer E. Sullivan has written an article, Optimize Your Flash Site for Search Engines, for Seochat.com which runs through some good advice for Flash website designers. Interestingly enough a lot of her tips seem to be along the lines of “build a HTML website, then add some flash” demonstrating that Flash files are really not being well indexed by search engines and hence you must rely on your standard copy and HTML to bring in the traffic. Which basically means follow the usual SEO rules for building search engine traffic.
In a nutshell Jennifer teaches -
- Use Flash movies, don’t build a full Flash site. First create a standard HTML site and then use Flash movies in place of graphics, images, buttons, and banners.
- Use Splash Pages (introduction movies) Sparingly and where Appropriate. You should give your visitors the option to click past the intro on their own too. In fact try and avoid splash pages altogether unless you can really justify their inclusion.
- You might have to rely more heavily on PPC (AdWords, Overture) then usual to bring in visitors since Flash, at least at this point in time, won’t compete well with search engine optimised HTML pages (again, ask yourself, do you absolutely need to have Flash?).
- Build an HTML site, and incorporate Flash later. Some web developers choose to develop a HTML website, then once they’ve established search engine positioning and PageRank for the site, add Flash to it.
- Use CSS Layers. It’s possible to use layers in CSS, which can place invisible text over the Flash text, readable by search engines, yet not appearing to human readers. This is a risky practice though as it might get you banned from the search engines for cloaking.