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  When Flash Goes Bad (for Search Engine Promotion)
"Oh, no" the Flash designers groan, "not another SEO specialist debunking Flash". Ready for a shock? I love Flash, I think it's great. Picked yourself up off the floor yet? OK, read on.

Usability experts and search engine promotion specialists have traditionally viewed Flash as a hindrance, if not a detriment, to good website design. But is the problem with Flash technology itself? Or is it with the those who don't know how to properly integrate Flash into a website?

When Flash goes bad:
  • When the entire site is developed using Flash;
  • When the only way to navigate the site is by using Flash links;
  • When the homepage is a Flash splash page;
  • When the site's text is all in Flash.
If you're thinking that the above list covers all of the uses for Flash then I seriously hope you're not a Flash designer.

Flash can be used to enhance sites without sacrificing either usability or search engine friendliness. The trick is to view Flash as an application and development tool rather than as the main feature of a site.

Search engines, and users, want well organised navigation structures, html text and html links. So give it to them. Design a search engine friendly site with loads of content and a navigation structure that is easy for spiders to crawl. Then use Flash to spice it up.

There are many ways in which you can use Flash to enhance a site without rendering it unfriendly to engines such as:
  • Using Flash animation where appropriate;
  • Use it as an application for news and weather feeds;
  • Or for interactive examples of your products;
  • Use Flash to let your customers tailor your products to their own designs such as letting them plan office space; drag and drop the furniture you're selling into a room; choose the paint colour for a new car, or see what a different hair style would look like on them;
  • Use it for interactive graphs and charts;
  • For illustrated tutorials;
  • For just about any type of games;
  • And then there's rich media ads;
  • Viral marketing campaigns
  • On and on the list goes.
In short, Flash can be used to turn a simple, html based brochure style website into an interactive showcase without taking anything away from the site's usability or search engine positioning. But you have to make sure that the elements important to the search engines - navigation structure, html text and links - remain intact.

Just a word of warning here: if you can't design a search engine friendly site without Flash it's unlikely that you'll be able to do it with Flash. If you're not sure, get some professional help.

This Web Graphics guide was written by Search Engine Marketing Guide, a step by step tutorial to search engine friendly design and website promotion.

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