Flash Website And Search Engines

All Flash website — what you want may not always good for your business.

Web usability | Flash website is not always good.

As a member in the marketing team, you may be responsible for either designing or coordinating the design process of the new website. You may want a complete Flash-based website because many of your clients have Flash websites, and you really like the interactive, animated site navigation, and the visual effects including the page transitions on each and every page. Well, that’s what you like, but is it good for your online marketing and for your business as a whole?

Why Flash may be a bad choice?

While Flash with its visual effects, animation, interactivity, and strong capability for building complex application appears to be enticing, it’s not the right choice for all. For example, if your company is in the construction consulting business, what your company target audience want to see most on your site may not be the interactivity or visual effects, but they want to see how and if the company’s core competency – in this case construction consulting – can help them solve their construction related questions. The interactivity, animation, and visual effects seem to get in the way and don’t help much with answering the questions they may have.

Although some major search engines can now read the content inside Flash to a certain extend, most of the time, Flash is like a black box where your text content is in the dark for search engines. If search engines can’t see your content, they can’t index it; consequently, your site won’t show up in search results, and you’ll have less and less business online leads. Switching from a text/html-based site to a completely Flash-based site will unlikely improve your ranking if not lowering your site ranking a great deal and negatively affect your online business.

Also, having your main navigation built with Flash will hinder search engine going from one page to the next to index all pages of your website. Thus, the page that’ll be indexed may be your home page and only your home page.

What’s more, with Flash you can’t really take advantage of the HTML heading tags like <H1>, <H2> <H3>… which undisputedly contribute significantly to the high or low ranking of your website.

Additionally, to display your Flash website, your clients’ browsers need to have the Flash player plug-in already installed. If for some reason their plug-in doesn’t work, they won’t see anything on your website — your whole Flash website is now only a blank page. If your clients already have Flash plug-in, but an older version because they somehow disabled the automatic update functionality, then it’s also very likely that they can’t see your Flash website either.

And last but never least, even though Flash can compress its content pretty well, Flash-based site still take more time to download compared to a corresponding html-based version. Not all of your users are willing to wait a little longer! They can easily click “Back” and go to a different site.

Sometimes Flash is just…flashy!


Depending on your line of business, Flash website may or may not be a good choice. If you’re in fashion design, web design, photography, videography… and want to have a slick, fashionable, high-end look website with integrated video capability, then Flash may be a good option. However, if your business depends greatly on traffic from search engines, no matter what line of business you’re in, Flash is possibly the wrong choice. With a full Flash website, you may also need to have an alternate HTML version for search engine purpose and for those who can’t view Flash in their browsers.

You can have a combination of Flash and HTML like many websites do now: use Flash for animated, interactive banner, or product showcase, and use HTML for other text content on the site.

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  1. Good info. I think you need 2 versions: keep Flash for your users, and a text version for the engines. That way you satisfy both.

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