Flash Website Optimisation Strategies

By Gavin Messenger

This Flash website optimisation strategy has been created to guide you on how to develop a search engine friendly web site whilst using Flash as the main construction method.

Flash websites provide some unique challenges for website optimisation since traditionally, Flash has not been compatible for search engine indexing.

As of recent times Google have advised they are able to index Flash (SWF) files and other engines will follow, but they must be rendered on the page a certain way and the construction methods of the Flash developer will have further impact on what can actually be read by the engine & how well it is ranked against its keyword content.

Information from the Google Webmaster Blog confirms what Google can do:

o Index textual content displayed as a user interacts with the file. We click buttons and enter input, just like a user would.

o Discover links within Flash files.

o Load external resources and associate the content with the parent file. (On 18 June this year Google added external resource loading to their Flash indexing capabilities).

o Support common JavaScript techniques for embedding Flash, such as SWFObject and SWFObject2.

o Index sites scripted with AS1, AS2 & AS3, even if the ActionScript is obfuscated.

It should be noted that dgm still consider Flash websites more complicated to optimise and less likely to rank highly as an HTML page based website.

Ask the question; “Can we build the site without relying completely on Flash?” If not, then continue with this Flash optimisation strategy.

There are two optimisation strategies available for Flash websites. One of these relies on an underlying HTML version of the website to gain the rankings. This option is more commonly used as it has been in use for a longer period of time. The second option relies on the actual Flash files gaining the rankings. This option has only become possible since Google updated how they index Flash during early 2009.

Method One – HTML Indexing

The method is to create optimised HTML pages that sit underneath the Flash website files. These HTML pages can be very plain in design if you consider most visitors will still see the Flash version of the site.

As a user visits the website they will be directed to the Flash version of the site when it is detected that they have the Flash plug in within there web browser.

If they do not have the Flash plug in installed (estimated to be less then 1% of all web users), then they would see the HTML version of the site.

The search engine spiders read & index the HTML pages & exclude the SWF files, allowing the designer to make the Flash site as interactive as they require & to not worry about how the SWF file will be read by the search engine robot.

If a website visitor comes into any of the indexed HTML pages via Google, the user will be directed into the corresponding section of the Flash website by going direct into the relevant SWF Bookmark, in this way the user experience is seamless and the website is conforming better to Google’s rules of always displaying the same thing to the user as they are providing to Google for indexing.

Flash HTML Strategy Optimisation Recommendations:

1. Do keyword research and identify your target keywords for the website.

2. Map your target keywords to your website content. You will need one HTML page per target keyword.

3. It is preferable that an XML file or CMS feeds the content of both the SWF and HTML file so that the content is exact. Varying the content from the HTML to the SWF could be seen as spam and is not recommended. Consider placing the SWF file/s in a subfolder and block indexing of this folder via the Robots txt file so as to control results purely via the HTML pages.

4. Use bookmarks within your SWF file and link each HTML page directly into the relevant bookmark section within the SWF file to provide a seamless user experience.

5. Use all the normal optimisation strategies such as Meta Tags, keyword rich navigation, H1 page headings & a good word count per page.

6. Do all the normal link building and external promotion a website requires.

Method Two – SWF Indexing

The method is to create multiple optimised SWF files, one SWF file for each target keyword and then use the navigation within the SWF files to link between all the files instead of having just one SWF file that runs the entire site.

Using this method is the equivalent of creating one HTML page per target keyword which is standard search engine optimisation practice. In this way we are allowing Google to rank each SWF file on the merits of the content within the SWF file around just one target keyword instead of it seeing one large SWF file for the entire site, which is the equivalent of building an extremely large one page HTML website.

The user benefit is that each SWF file should be quick to load, instead of the normal practice of the user requiring to download the entire website SWF file when they first hit the site.

Using this method it is likely that your Flash developer will incur more time on the project creating each SWF file, but it means that at last you will have the actual Flash website truly appear in the rankings on its own merits, instead of relying on an HTML page version to gain the ranking.

Flash SWF Strategy Optimisation Recommendations:

1. Do keyword research and identify your target keywords for the website.

2. Map your target keywords to your website content.

3. Build your SWF files using Flash best practice.

4. Create a separate SWF file (the equivalent of one HTML page of a normal website) for each target keyword and then link your navigation between these files so that each SWF file sits on its own HTML page with a unique page name (URL).

5. The HTML page should contain the Meta Title, Description, SWF file reference & mention of requiring the Flash plug-in. The Flash mention is common on every page and is best built in a graphic so the text is not picked up.

6. Content that is not important for targeting keywords can sit in another SWF file that makes up the rest of the website.

7. Have content that supports your target keywords and preferably feed this into your SWF files using another file such as XML and allow Google to read this feed.

8. For best practice we recommend you still create an HTML version of the page with content fed directly from the XML feed for users without Flash installed. This is not essential for results.

9. Do all the normal link building and external promotion a website requires.

If you are also optimising video content within a Flash website, each video should be constructed within its own SWF file and have a supporting heading & description so that the engines can learn what the file contains.

Gavin is a leading Australian optimiser & currently the SEO Manager at dgm Australia with over 10 years SEO experience & having recently won an Australian IAB Award for his work at dgm.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Gavin_Messenger
http://EzineArticles.com/?Flash-Website-Optimisation-Strategies&id=2632816

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1 Comment

  1. Louanne says:

    Hi there i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting
    anyplace, when i read this article i thought i could also make comment due to this good
    paragraph.

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