Search Engine Marketing and Adobe Flash – Can They Coexist?

The debate regarding whether Adobe Flash can be used and implemented without sacrificing SEO-friendly content is nothing more than an extension of another debate: whether search engines or potential buyers should be the focus of professional marketers.

Is search engine marketing your focus?

When it comes to deciding whether marketing efforts should be focused on search engines or potential buyers, most marketers will quickly agree that marketing efforts should obviously be focused on potential buyers. However, you are much more likely to find hundreds of search engine marketing tips online and not quite as many audience marketing tips, which means that in reality, marketers are focused on satisfying the appetite of search engines instead of the appetite of online visitors. Of course, search engines do meet users’ standards in many cases so focusing on search engine marketing isn’t always a bad thing unless of course valuable marketing tools are discredited because they aren’t “SEO friendly.” That’s when Macromedia Flash becomes an issue. Sure, it’s not always the answer for a website (that most certainly has to be SEO-friendly) but it’s not worth disesteeming all together… least not yet.

What is Flash? Can it reconcile itself with search engine marketing?

Flash is a type of author software that allows users to make vector-based animations and to create videos, advertisements, etc. Using Flash has made many website designs and content a bit well…..Web-hyper, but nevertheless Flash has definitive practical value. However, Flash is–at this point–unable to be read by search engines, so what’s the solution for a happy reconciliation with search engine marketing processes? First, let’s talk about the general benefits of Flash.

The Benefits of Flash

According to jehochman.com1, Flash is beneficial because:

  • “It allows the designer to put more content in a finite space without wrecking page design.”
  • [It] 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.”

And according to webdevelopersnotes.com2, Flash is also:

  • “…catchy esp. if the animation and interactivity is used well.”
  • “IMPORTANT, if your web site caters to people who are either ready to wait for the intro to load or are on high bandwidth connections, you should use a Flash intro especially if it can portray your company objectives better than a static page.”
  • “You can build nice interactive menus in the Flash intro. If created well, these menu systems can serve as good navigation guides for human visitors.”

So, if search engine marketing professionals are steering your business away from Flash because search engines are unable to read Flash content, but you would still like to take advantage of the benefits that Flash can provide, let your search engine marketing providers know you want a search engine marketing/Flash compromise.

The Search Engine Marketing/Flash Compromise

First of all, your search engine marketing professionals should let you know that Google (and possibly other search engines can index many of the pages that utilize Flash. Google’s indexing process doesn’t function 100% every time however so to be sure that Google “sees” your site, use Lynx (the text browser) to view your website. If you able to view your website elements with Lynx you are set! If not, you should create HTML versions of the Flash pages that you have already created. Of course you should also create robots.txt files so that search engines won’t view your website as the naughty black-hat type of website that likes to create duplicate content.

Jonathan Hockman also recommends the following “compromise” advice in his article How to SEO Flash3:

“My recommendation is to hand code Flash pages with primary HTML content, and a method of automatically testing for Flash support before attempting to insert the movie. The primary HTML content can be search optimized as if the Flash wasn’t there, while the Flash provides an enhanced user experience for those visitors who have the necessary Flash player.”

A Conclusion for Search Engine Marketing and Flash

It’s interesting to note that while search engine marketing and Flash often seem to be labeled as incompatible, they can actually be used to serve the audience that business professionals always meant to market to in the first place—-their target audience.