Adobe Flash and SEO – the latest marketing hype – don’t be fooled

So Adobe and Google have announced that Google is now crawling and Indexing Flash content.  You can read Vanessa Fox‘s write up with details here at search engine land.  This is yet the latest attempt by Adobe to snow-job designers and developers.  Ever since they first claimed to add “SEO friendly” capabilities several versions ago, I’ve laughed at such nonsense.  But now that Google is on the marketing hype bandwagon with this, I’m dismayed because I know most people won’t bother to investigate the limits and the implications of those limits and I’m appalled at Google’s complicit behavior…

Even though they state the limitations if you look closely enough, the marketing juggernaut has already taken it’s toll in countless news sites and tech sites reporting only the spin, or glossing over the limits.

Here are just a few of the most important reasons why it’s still a bad idea to try and create any deep content rich web site in Flash if you care about search engine optimization through on-site methods.

  • 1.  No Meta Data
  • 2.  No capacity to distinguish text formatting (so no h1, no bold, or strong, or italics, no bullet points, none of it.)
  • 3.  You have to create your flash file in a way that results in having a separate URL associated with every major piece of content in the Flash file.
  • 4.  You can only have one page Title if the entire site is in Flash so how are you supposed to optimize a 50 page site built entirely in Flash when you only have ONE page title?
  • This is now leaving the door wide open for black hat hacks to stuff text into their Flash file for search engine indexing purposes and where a site visitor will NOT be able to tell such text is there, and where through the use of FLV and images, they can present you with whatever BS they want, and Google will have NO WAY to know.

 Do I really need to go on here people?

Google’s response to such concerns is essentially “this is the same issue with PDF documents, and we index those, so what’s the problem?”


How many web sites that do really well in the search engine results are made up of 50 pages that are all PDF documents?

Sure,  if you have a sufficiently optimized HTML page that happens to link to a PDF document, and where that PDF document’s focus is related to the page from which it is linked, a search may bring that PDF back in the results.

But we’re not talking about one page content here, we’re talking about entire web sites.  That need to have dozens or hundreds of keyword phrases, grouped into tiny bite-size chunk groups of three or four phrases per page.  And where every page’s connection from an optimization perspective to each other page’s relevance relationship matter.

So Adobe and Google, as much as I love you both, do everyone who is less intuitive and visionary as I am (having known every time they have claimed Flash is a viable solution for SEO that they were full of it) a favor and be more forthcoming about the severity of these still existing limitations.

About Alan Bleiweiss

Just another guy. Who happens to have a lot of experience living, breathing and sleeping organic SEO. So that's my primary focus - high end SEO audits and consulting for sites ranging from thousands to tens of millions of pages. In my spare time I blog, rant, write eBooks, and speak at industry conferences.

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