Optimizing Flash for Search Engines – Can it be Done?
Since the inception of Flash, it has been the programming medium of choice for many companies. Most professionals recognize the superior visual aspects that Flash has to offer. Unfortunately, Flash is also very hard to optimize. Many SEO firms would rather tell you Flash can’t be optimized than to try and optimize it. No, optimizing a Flash site is not simple by any means, but it is entirely possible. The absence of quality content that cannot be indexed is a huge factor regarding any flash presentation. You can add META and keyword tags. Unfortunately, many search engines such as Google do not use these tags.
Large companies shell out big bucks for Flash sites. They don’t want to hear that their site can’t be optimized because of the format. They love the effects of Flash, but more importantly require search engine optimization for their content. Here are some things you can do to increase a sites ranking when dealing with a flash format:
Ideally, you want to get in on the ground floor of a Flash site being developed. Try to persuade the client to have flash headers and the rest of the site HTML based. This would be the most cost effective option. The other option is to create a duplicated HTML. If neither of these is an option, move on to the next step.
Add your META, keyword and description tags to the opening page to be displayed while flash is running. While some may feel that it can clutter a page, the results are hard to argue with. Follow standard SEO protocol. Use keywords in your TITLE tag. Build your link popularity to boost your client in the search engines. Try to link with sites that are pr 4 or more. Never link to sites that have more than 100 links on their link pages. Also, link to sites that allow you to use descriptions. Use keywords in your description. Stay away from sites that only allow banners or no description in linking. Those types of links do not help at all. Remember, links pointing to your site are more important then links going out, so concentrate on those first and foremost.
The next and final tip is controversial. The infamous page re-direct. There are some re-directs that work better than others. My understanding is that Google allows redirects. Google states on their site that a using a “301” code in HTTP headers site direct is recommended if you have moved your site. So, using this to redirect an HTML page to a Flash site should not be a problem. In other words create an HTML page. Fill it with relevant content. Do not stuff it full of keywords. You will then need to create an .htaccess file. To learn more visit http://www.freewebmasterhelp.com/tutorials/htaccess/
and follow the directions. You will need to download the .htaccess file in the root directory of the location where all your web pages are stored.
redirect 301 /old/old.htm http://www.you.com/new.htm
That is all you need to do. Save the file and upload it. Typically you would type in the old url (old domain name) and it would take you to the new url (new domain name). But, in this case we will change the old index file to another name. Create a new optimized HTML page. Then, name it as the old index page. Google will index the new page that is redirected to the flash page. It will look like this
redirect 301 (the instruction that the page has moved)
/old/old.htm (the original folder path and file name)
http://www.you.com/new.htm (new path and file name)
Basically, we are just forwarding one page directly to another. Not to another domain name. This sounds more complicated than it actually is. This is usually the best way to utilize a redirect. You could also use a java script redirect.
Never use the META tag redirect. Those have already been recognized as a blacklisted move.
I cannot guarantee that these will not get you banned. But, from my research, the 301 re-direct is the best bet. If your site is 100% Flash and you need to rank higher, this will get you results. These are your SEO options for clients with Flash sites.
Guest Columnist Joe Balestrino’s blog http://mr-seo.blogspot.com is full of info on SEO. You can also visit his other web sites http://www.jnb-design.com/ and http://www.mr-seo.com/ for more information on SEO and to try out his services.