Frequently Asked Questions

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Below you will find a collection of frequently asked questions related to Zee Designs, websites and print topics. If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact us.

I have a website that is programmed using Flash. How does Flash affect my search engine rating?

Flash animation is a great way to present complex content because it allows the designer to put more content in a finite space without wrecking page design. Flash is an ideal way to present a slide show or movie explaining a complex product. Art and entertainment sites have a real need for multimedia, and Flash is the perfect solution.

As part of a total solution, Flash is great! As the basis for an entire website, it introduces challenges for Search Engine Optimization. While Flash sites are graphics-based, Search Engines are text-based. For years the two worlds had trouble intersecting.

In recent years, Flash has been billed as having added new features that make it more conducive to SEO, and Google has bragged about its ability to handle Flash files. Despite all this, trusting Flash content to get good SEO results is like trusting a Seattle summer wedding to be rain-free. It could happen, but no one would call it a wise bet. The interfaces between Flash and the search engines is still too new and there are issues to overcome.

  • Low ranking based on links:
    • There's no way to link to individual elements on a page unless the Flash developer is specifically building for this scenario - and even then, there's almost always some portions that are missed.
    • Some Flash content is only linked-to by other Flash content wrapped inside shell Flash pages which means some very low Page Rank documents.
    • Flash Doesn't Earn External Links Like HTML. An all-Flash site might get a large number of links to the homepage, but interior pages almost always suffer. People can’t copy and paste a few quotes into their own pages and link to your site.
  • Keywords and other SEO Basics Ranking Features Are Often Missing.
    • Google can index the files in the SWF to see words and phrases, but in Flash, most text isn't in nice clean format tags and may be rendered inaccurately.
    • Anchor text, headlines, bold/strong text, img alt tags, and even title tags are not simple elements to properly include in Flash, and 9 times out of 10, the designer won't build them in properly. Developing Flash with SEO in mind is not just more difficult than doing it in HTML, it's not part of the cultural lexicon of the Flash-development world.
  • Those creepy-crawly spiders get lost
    • Google's Flash-crawling technology is proprietary, and while we all know and can test what search engines see from a content and link perspective in HTML, there's no "test my site's Flash file crawlability" feature so we don’t know how the engine's going to translate your material.
    • A Lot of Flash Isn't Even Crawlable. Google said they don't execute external javascript calls (which many Flash-based sites use) or index the content from external files called by Flash (which, again, a lot of Flash sites rely on). These limitations could severely impact what a visitor can see vs. what Googlebot can index.

(Note: Adapted from the SEOmoz Blog, where you can learn more about Search Engine Optimization.)

Hoping that search engines can decipher your Flash is not a substitute for providing index-able HTML content. There are things that can be done to make Flash sites more accessible to Search Engines and Zee Designs can help.