Home Tutorials Forums Articles Blogs Movies Library Employment Press

Go Back   ActionScript.org Forums > Community Boards > General Chat

View Poll Results: What is the most important factor to you about a Flash site
Whether it can be found by most search engines? 10 41.67%
Whether it can be found by Google? 14 58.33%
If the text is dynamic? 3 12.50%
If video in the file can be found by search engines? 2 8.33%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 24. You may not vote on this poll

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rating: Thread Rating: 17 votes, 5.00 average. Display Modes
Old 04-06-2006, 01:59 PM   #1
rockcoastmedia
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 4
Default Optimizing Flash Web Sites for Search Engines

What is a Flash Movie?
A flash movie, or shock wave file (SWF), is the file format published when a Flash movie is exported. A SWF file can also be exported by several other Macromedia or Adobe Products. The SWF is usually an animation, dynamic menu, or highly interactive web-based application embedded into an HTML page. Flash files, when exported correctly for the best web-based optimization, are compressed, thus making their file size lightweight. The SWF format is ideal for presenting vector-based, interactive and animated graphics with sound and video for the web. Vector images are ideal because they will not "pixilize" if stretched or compressed. Flash files can also contain text which can be animated, static or dynamically populated from external sources, such an XML file or a database. Text embedded in a Flash file, for many years, could not be read by search engines. However, recent updates by Macromedia are making this a possibility.

Problems with Flash and Search Engines
Historically, it has been difficult to get Flash content indexed and ranked by search engines. In the past, search engines, such as Yahoo and Google, did not spider Flash content as they could not read the compressed file and much of the text inside the SWF appeared as graphics to the search engines.

The main page of a web site, if Flash-based, rarely ranked well, unless off-page factors such as link popularity or link reputation were sufficient enough to carry the page. Flash files that were indexed by Google, Lycos and other search engines, which did not have any text or key words associated with them in the search engine results pages (SERP).

Techniques Used in the Past to Make Flash Visible to Search Engines
Traditional Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques would help your site get indexed, but not rank for search terms. Every web site needs at least one HTML page to load into a browser. For a web site developed completely in Flash, developers would embed their flash files into an HTML document and then create the meta tags in the head section of the HTML file. They would also add descriptive HTML text for the search engines in the body section of the HTML page, then use CSS positioning and percentages to load the Flash move in a pixel-perfect location over the top of text. This particular technique should not be used any longer, as search engines will view this technique as an attempt to add hidden text, and hidden text will incur a penalty from the engines.

What Macromedia has Done to Make Flash More Visible to Search Engines
In the past, Google did index Flash files. Anyone can test this fact out by searching in Google using the "filetype" operator to restrict your search. For example, try the following search: "Casino Games filetype:SWF". The SERP will include over 200 Flash files, which are indicated by the "Flash" text to the left of the listing.

Some search engines are now using the Macromedia Flash Search Engine SDK (Software Development Kit). For example, Google, AllTheWeb, Lycos, and other sites can readily display links to Flash content. Flash Search SDK is and open source tool that allows search engines to modify it to suit their needs. With this level of customization, it is likely that the major search engines will modify SDK, making it difficult for website owners to know exactly what information will be pulled out of the SWF file or how it will impact actual rankings.

The Macromedia Flash Search Engine SDK can be found at http://www.macromedia.com/software/f.../search_engine. According to the Macromedia/Adobe web site, The SDK includes an application named 'swf2HTML'. Swf2HTML extracts text and links from a Macromedia Flash SWF file, and returns the data to an HTML document. Swf2HTML is provided as a compiled application and as a static library for linked library implementation. SDK can interoperate any links that are in the action script so long as adhere to the following criteria:

The link is contained within single quotes (' ') or double quotes (" "), and
The link prefix is HTTP, and
The link suffix is HTM, HTML, CFM, SWF, JPG, JPEG, MP3, or WAV
By default SDK extracts the following text from your flash file:

Text on stage in the current movie (dynamic text, static text, or input text that has an initial value assigned)
Text on stage in a movie that is called with movieClip.attachMovie()
Google can see certain text in Flash files now, but how and where certain text gets extracted depends on what you do with that text in the Flash presentation. For example, text that is static or is used in a motion tween can be read as a single instance with SDK. However, some animation involves converting text into a symbol and then using multiple copies of that symbol to achieve a desired effect. This will create duplicate instances of your text to the SDK output, which may be viewed as duplicate content and not given much importance by Google.

Using the SDK tool, any developer can get the text output from the SWF and see how search engines view the extractable text of any SWF. On a Windows operating system, you can go to the DOS prompt and execute the swf2HTML application very easily. The following is an example from the DOS prompt: C:\sdk\swf2HTML -o test.HTML C:\sdk\crt_webfiles\test.swf

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques Used Historically for Flash
Each Flash file does not need to be uploaded independently and called as a SWF file; rather a Flash file can be embedded in a standard HTML document. One of the best techniques is to create a modular web site, where there are several Flash files which make up the web page combined with standard HTML elements. A hybrid site such as this, works especially well, if your navigation uses traditional HTML links. You can use cascading style sheets to give the appearance of flash text links. This type of hybrid site will always rank better than an all Flash site - all other factors being equal. It's also important to have your HTML page title correct, regardless of anything else. Several search engines look at meta titles first. In addition to the page title, you can add meta tags to the head of the file. Outside of the actual HTML page, off page factors are important. There has been much written in recent articles that reciprocal links are not as important any longer, but certainly, one-way links pointing to your site from highly relevant and high ranking pages will increase your page rank. In addition links from prominent directories, such as Yahoo and Business.com, placed in the most relevant categories will help. One-way inbound links from relevant sites is still the best way to increase your ranking with or without Flash.

There are programming techniques which work while in the Flash authoring environment. While you are in the Flash authoring environment, with your FLA open...click F12. It will generate the HTML page for you. Look at the code of the page; it creates a place for you to put the text and URL's used in the Flash.

New SEO Techniques for Flash
Today there are many techniques which can overcome the limitations of the past, where Flash files are concerned. With the inception of the new Macromedia Flash 8, there are techniques which can be implemented to greatly increase the ability of search engines to index Flash files and even rank for key words.

In the past, SWF files could not have titles. This is one important reason why Flash files didn't rank well. This title limitation has now changed. Flash 8 does allow you to input meta data. Flash 8 defines two fields with meta data for all Flash files. These two fields are Title and Description. You can access the meta data fields under Document Properties. To add meta data, fill in the text fields and the search engines will know what info to display about your Flash file.

SDK is fairly intelligent in terms of recognizing text and links that are embedded in the file. If text is static or dynamically driven by an XML or text file, it can be read. If your content is dynamically driven it must be done so using the latest version of ActionScript 2.0. The SDK does parse ActionScript 2 byte code looking for links. It could conceivably find the link to the XML file that way and hand it back to a search engine.

As referenced earlier, certain text can be modified into a symbol rather than strait text. For example, a button might have the text output two or three times. Alternatively, tweened text has motion associated with the action. Tweens result in a single occurrence in the output from the extraction process. You should also notice that the link text in the Google results page is identical to the first couple of lines of text at the very top of the text extracted by swf2HTML. Armed with the knowledge of how SDK parses your content, you can manipulate text in your Flash Movies more carefully and make your content key word dense, easily indexable, search engine friendly and, with a little more skill, even optimized.

What is the gist of all this? Flash is still not the best solution for a pure SEO-based project, but their have been giant leaps forward by both the search engines and Macromedia in allowing your flash files to be indexed and even rank for the key word phrases you covet.

This Article was written by Mike. Mike is the SEO Manager at Rock Coast Media, a Boston-Area search engine marketing firm that provides results-driven custom search marketing solutions.
rockcoastmedia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2006, 12:39 AM   #2
askmanny
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 1
Default Making Flash websites searchable

Great points in all! I wanted to share an article I ran into that offered some elements (mostly things to be done outside of Flash, honestly) to be considered for making Flash-based sites "searchable".

Last edited by pixelwit; 11-20-2010 at 01:13 PM.
askmanny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-04-2007, 03:28 AM   #3
william777
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 13
Default

Hi rockcoastmedia, thanks for the invaluable information.
You mentioned that "Flash 8 does allow you to input meta data. Flash 8 defines two fields with meta data for all Flash files. These two fields are Title and Description. You can access the meta data fields under Document Properties. To add meta data, fill in the text fields and the search engines will know what info to display about your Flash file." However, when I opened my FLA files in either Macormedia MX or Flash, I could not find the 2 fields in "Properties". Am I stupid or what?
william777 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-04-2007, 04:53 AM   #4
william777
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 13
Default

I had read most of the threads regarding problems with Flash and Search Engines. I am much confused....... so can someone enlighten me as to
(1) What is the latest update from Macromedia, Google, Yahoo, etc?
(2) What is the best design method for Flash websites to be "searchable" by the various serach engines.
william777 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2007, 04:48 AM   #5
SuperRoach
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 18
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by william777 View Post
I had read most of the threads regarding problems with Flash and Search Engines. I am much confused....... so can someone enlighten me as to
(1) What is the latest update from Macromedia, Google, Yahoo, etc?
(2) What is the best design method for Flash websites to be "searchable" by the various serach engines.
To be honest, Flash and SEO doesn't go hand in hand at the moment. With google ranking h1 tags and other tags with the content in it, Flash just can't match it. The closest You can get is with Flash's poor css/html rendering of text, which then makes it a horror to update dynamicly for a client.
SuperRoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2007, 12:59 PM   #6
kool-Aid
The dude abides
 
kool-Aid's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: PA
Posts: 568
Send a message via AIM to kool-Aid
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by william777 View Post
Hi rockcoastmedia, thanks for the invaluable information.
You mentioned that "Flash 8 does allow you to input meta data. Flash 8 defines two fields with meta data for all Flash files. These two fields are Title and Description. You can access the meta data fields under Document Properties. To add meta data, fill in the text fields and the search engines will know what info to display about your Flash file." However, when I opened my FLA files in either Macormedia MX or Flash, I could not find the 2 fields in "Properties". Am I stupid or what?
The area in flash 8 to add your meta data is a button at the top modify/document, Then you get title and description areas to fill out. This info will be published into your html when you publish your flash piece.
kool-Aid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-26-2008, 09:39 PM   #7
louisp
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 2
Default

the most important part of a flash site is not straight away to do with seo, people use flash to make their sites look cool and "flashy" first and foremost... obviously for many seos optimising for flash is important.
louisp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-2008, 04:42 PM   #8
ain
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Estonia, EU
Posts: 151
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by louisp View Post
the most important part of a flash site is not straight away to do with seo, people use flash to make their sites look cool and "flashy" first and foremost... obviously for many seos optimising for flash is important.
Yes, for the sites that sell stuff, e.g. Beatport, this is essential to have a decent SEO and look cool at the same time. Good news is that Adobe is to enhance SEO for Flash including Rich Internet Applications in collaboration with Google and Yahoo specialists.
__________________
Ain Tohvri
Flashbit LLC
www.flashbit.net
ain is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-2008, 03:03 PM   #9
evride
2006 Man Of The Year
 
evride's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 919
Default

if your number one worry is whether your flash site can or cannot be seen by a search engine then you should probably make a standard html and graphics site and skip flash.

and most people epic fail in creating flash sites that are "flashy." I think the term should be "alive." a flash site should give you an absolutely spectacular experience that you could not achieve using other methods with html, images and javascript. this flash experience should be without intros but that should go without saying.


and last, if you are making a flash site you NEED to download the gaia flash framework. that thing is absolutely spectacular and only took me like 3 days to learn. it helps you build advanced websites quickly and gives you features that the normal person would skip because it takes too much time to add.
__________________
As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities. --Voltaire
evride is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-09-2008, 06:00 PM   #10
Xoote
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 5
Default

Have to be able to find it in google
Xoote is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Flash sites! Huh?! o.O hnh Simple Stuff (Newbies) 3 06-28-2005 11:24 PM
Hotel flash sites preacher28 Cool Sites 1 06-07-2005 04:40 PM
CyanBlue's 5000th Post - Useful Threads List CyanBlue Projectors and CDs 104 02-25-2005 01:13 PM
Flash MX Developers Exam VitiminJ General Chat 34 05-05-2004 01:27 PM
Flash 5 Developer looking for opportunities sryder Projects and Positions 0 07-17-2001 05:53 PM


All times are GMT. The time now is 12:13 PM.

///
Follow actionscriptorg on Twitter

 


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Ad Management plugin by RedTyger
Copyright 2000-2013 ActionScript.org. All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site is subject to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.