Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Flash Websites

I’ve seen many blogs and many people (usually people that hates Flash) telling that search engines can’t index content inside Flash movies and that Flash websites can never rank high, and that’s not true at all.

Google started indexing the content of Flash movies in June 2008 and have been improving the way it works since then.

I’ve created this presentation in September 2009 pointing some things that can be done to improve flash websites ranking:

If you want to learn more about SEO I’ve created some other presentations as well: SEO – A quick overview and SEO, truths and myths.

Since most people don’t believe that a flash website can rank high, the portfolio of my friend Ruy Adorno is a small sample that it’s really possible, just search for “Montreal Flash Developer” and he will be probably between the first results (position may vary based on your location/language/preferences/etc). – He’s using many of the techniques that I describe on the presentation but many other flash websites also rank high for specific keywords even without doing any SEO

One big advantage that blogs/wikis and other HTML sites have over Flash websites is that the content carries many semantical markup that helps the crawler to specify that the content is more relevant to a specific topic while the flash content doesn’t carry any extra information that differentiate heading, subhead, paragraphs from a decorative text… – for the crawler is like opening a simple .txt file – another major “issue” is that Flash websites usually have a different structure/navigation/content than HTML websites, it’s really uncommon to see a website with a lot of textual content (like a wiki or blog) done using flash, and that’s one of the reasons why it usually ranks worse than other kinds of websites.

A huge misconception is believing that a website is going to rank higher just because it was created using HTML instead of Flash. If the website has the same kind of interaction, navigation and content than a Flash website and it heavily relies on JavaScript to work (load external content, navigation, etc..) it will probably rank worse than a Flash website since web-crawlers doesn’t process JavaScript very well. – Of course there are ways to make Ajax/JavaScript search-engine friendly but most people don’t do it (someday I will write about how to do it).

Always choose the technology based on the kind of project you have, don’t use Flash when you don’t need it and don’t use HTML when another technology would be a better solution.

Make websites for users and not for search engines! A good user-experience worth many times more than a good markup, the number and quality of links pointing to your website is a key factor for the rank positioning (much more than the quality of the markup). Create a remarkable experience and interesting content that users will want to share, that’s the best way to have a successful website…

That’s it!


This is an awesome presentation and I want to carry it around with me all the time to rub into clients' faces, as soon as they bring up all the wrong arguments again. Thanks for sharing, Miller. I'm holding a similar presentation at Fi soon and quite a few things that I will be talking about are based on or similar to your research. It would be really cool if you could stop by to join the discussion. ( http://www.kontain.com/fi/entries/66297/public-event-at-fi---the-seo-wars-flash-vs-ajax )

Thanks Jens! I've already applied to the presentation, just waiting the confirmation, see you there.

Great presentation!