SEO for Alternative Media (Flash, Video, etc.)

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Recently, Dan Crow of Google addressed a group of SEO professionals at a regional event in Providence Rhode Island . At that event, Crow commented on the ability to optimize alternative media such as Flash, Video, and similar media files.

Today, we’ll take a closer look at how you can improve rankings for pages and sites that rely on the use of alternative media.

Videos Need Offsite Optimization

With the growing use of web 2.0 services, search engines are tying more user experience feedback to general content optimization. In other words — the more user ratings, comments and tags a piece of media has — the more likely it is to be found.

Let’s say for example that you’re trying to optimize a site for instructional videos of some sort. While your site may sell full length videos and DVDs, you may wish to feature a small sample of the videos. Doing so will not only help your visitors to have a clearer understanding of the product — but it will engage them actively.

But how can you optimize videos? Well, in this example one of the first things you should do is upload your video to Google Videos and YouTube. Doing so will provide you with an opportunity to title the video, provide descriptions of the content, and tag the video with relevant keywords. Be sure to use your targeted search phrases in all of these elements.

As a final component of optimization, simply embed these media files in your pages. Doing so will allow GoogleBot and other crawlers to quickly understand what the page, text and media files are all about. Be sure to encourage users to provide feedback on the video as well. While it’s not set in stone, comments and ratings of media files is similar to having a number of backlinks to a page… with the better ratings certainly being more helpful.

Integrating Keywords and Text in Flash Media

When it comes to Flash files, there’s a major disconnect, right? Wrong! The spiders are slowly developing ways to parse out the contents of a Flash file — which translates into a great opportunity for you.

Whenever you are developing Flash media, be sure to include slides of that contain targeted, sensible and relevant materials to the content of the presentation itself. Don’t get too aggressive, but do be sure to include the general theme and some descriptions as to what’s going on.

The great thing about this is that while you can embed these tidbits of information into the Flash files themselves, your end user will not have to see them. Just be sure to work with your designers closely and don’t get too aggressive here. A little Flash based SEO can go a long, long way.

Fundamentals for Alternative Media

Whenever possible, provide an alternative to your users and to the search engines. If you have a site that relies on Flash for 90% of its media, content and presentation, than consider writing a “low-fi” version of the site. Spiders and humans will appreciate that a great deal.

Finally, encourage interaction. Each of the major search engines is using user-based logins to help track things. It’s only a matter of time before user habits and patterns begin to apply to the world of search marketing… so stay one step ahead of the curve and keep people commenting, rating, reviewing and using your media files!

Sujan Patel is Director of Search at Single Grain, which specializes in Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing

Sujan Patel
Sujan Patel has over 12 years of digital marketing experience and has helped hundreds of clients increase web traffic, boost user acquisition, and grow their... Read Full Bio
Sujan Patel
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  • suresh

    Great Post Thank you. When the Universal Search rolled out, I started to do my SEO for Video, Podcast, images, powerpoint and more.

  • free iphone

    Excellent advice. Thanks!

  • Chris

    Hey Sujan good points you make. I am curious as to what you recommend in terms of replacement techniques other than the html version. have you also read about the SOFA methodology described by our NYC team? See the details here: (see especially the “Flash-Related Workarounds” mentiuoned in the middle). Also, would love your comments at the SEW thread:

  • creditfille

    Sujan, thanx for detailed explanations on ranking improvement.

  • James

    A very simple way to get your Flash based web sites recognized by the search engines is one that is also often overlooked; wrap HTML around the Flash elements. While this may not be possible 100% of the time, you can take some of the text/content and present it in HTML, or CSS, with the Flash elements providing the rich content.

    This will ensure that your message get across to both the end user and the search engines equally. There is nothing wrong with using Flash if you plan ahead by keeping the search engines in mind for the actual text/content.

  • Sujan Patel


    Good point


    I will check out the SOFA technique, thanks

  • Optimizare

    You are right Sujan, crawlers are really smarter now, and can extract text content from flash files. But, remember tough the Terms and Conditions of Google. I am not sure if it is OK to hide content from the visitors (even in flash files). If the robots aren’t that smart now… they will surely be in the future.

  • SEO Web Design

    Side note : Google has launched their video sitemap that allows webmasters to submit a list to them via webmaster tools. Read more here :