Help search engines indexing your Flash content

By | March 6, 2006

Update: I have presented a clearer model to help search engines index your Flash content with a minimal work.

Bad referencing in search engine is the only point that really bothers me with Flash.
Why is it so hard for search engines to understand Flash content?
Because it’s not text like they use to read it, it’s vectorial text or imported text, search engine mostly see the swf (swf = flash files) like an “image” or like something they don’t understand.
Official solution: using the tags :

‹!--url's used in the movie-->

‹!--text used in the movie-->

But it seems to be a very little help in that issue.

Another reasons is that search engine follow link and as they don’t understand the link in swf they just don’t see all the structure of your swf.

So what can we do for them?

I would say that it’s important to separate the content in different swf that would be loaded in a main swf. If this main swf is loaded once in “a.html” you don’t need to load it again in “b.html” (because it’s in your browser cache), which allow us to make our swf having a structure like: “mygreatdog.html”, “mygreatcat.html”, “blabla.html”. Doing so will make your site more understandable by search engines (who care about the page name), and as a bonus it will make the back and forward button works naturally.

To make your page understandable for search engines and with Flash on the same page is quite easy finally: my way is to make a transparent swf

‹param name="wmode" value="transparent" />
that would go over the content (placed with CSS) that must be understand by the search engines (like the title, some keywords or any important text). So in this case Flash is more here only to beautify your web content (which is not the main purpose of Flash or is it ?).

The bonus of using Css under a swf is that all accessibility standard from the browser will be saved (like making the text resizable, or making your text be read by voice application). By the way if a user don’t have the correct plugin or don’t have JavaScript enabled he will see the important part of your content and if he likes it, he‘ll be more willing to install the plugin.

Last bonus, your flash animation will be understand by the search engines, at least what you want them to understand.


0 Kudos

11 thoughts on “Help search engines indexing your Flash content

  1. Pingback: myFlashPortal

  2. Pingback: Metah Blog

  3. Oz

    Thanks for the info here. Funny, I just – like 5 minutes ago – published a blog on the same topic. I want to find out what will happen “when/if” a spider crawls my test site. To that end everything is text – in one swf – and page is bookmarkable.

    Last I read Google had the API from Macro’dobe to peek into swf files. Lets hope it works soon.

  4. Niels

    I am trying to do a similar thing with the use of flashobjectn , a little piece of javascript who writes the flash in a specified DIV.

    In this DIV there is the homepage of my text only site. When users don’t have the right flash plugin (or a spider or without javaScript ) they see or crawl the text only site. When having flash the DIV content get switched with the flash site ..

    Now the tricky part is when users enter the site with a deeplinked URL (found by google or a bookmark – or – and have the correct plugin – they get the SWF which opens the correct page ..

    Still in the process of building this but it looks promising..

    What do you think ?


  5. Jeff Rothe

    Question:If the user does not have the flash plugin, and that box that displays the “missing plugin” icon comes up, will the user still be able to see the content underneath? Will the transparent mode work when the plugin is not installed and the graphics aren’t displaying?

  6. Aaron Ware

    You may actually have an issue with search engines, specifically google, considering your html content “hidden” If some one for any reason has a gripe with your site. Said person could potentially flag your site as spam. If your site fits within googles standard for spam then your site will be booted from your intended listing. This actually recently happened with BMW Germany. They had technically hidden text by styling divs with display:none and visibility:hidden. You are basically doing the same thing and giving the ability so put in spam to boost your rankings. Just something I have come across in recent times.

  7. Metah

    Reply to : Aaron Ware —
    It may but I hope not as I don’t use any hidden or nodisplay tag. The Css text who is under my swf is still part of my global animation. Hope Google won’t consider it like spam.

  8. Metah

    Reply to : Niels –
    for you tricky part my method wasn’t very nice but did work. I put a 1*1 swf within my html
    who will send the “id” each of my page to the main swf by a localConnection().
    The other method also working is to send a vairable to your swf with the “id”.

  9. Metah

    Reply to : Jeff Rothe
    In IE when the user don’t have the plugin, the swf empty space IS still transparent, but in Firefox it’s NOT.

  10. Pingback: SEO Consultant - Shimon Sandler » Blog Archive » Flash Navigation? What’s up Bruce?