Flash Websites

Flash websites is the second part of our series of Web Page Content Search Engines See. As mentioned previously, web page content is all the information between the <body> and </body> tags of the web page. This is the web page content that the visitor will see.

With flash websites, the search engine spiders only see the coding that inserts the flash movie. Search engine spiders cannot read flash movies as of this writing.

What are Flash Websites?

Flash websites are built using a Adobe Macromedia technology called Flash. The visitor will have to have a plug in (extra program on their machine) to be able to view the site. e.g.

Example Flash website.  Click to see how a flash website looks.

Click the image above if you wish to see how a Flash website looks. This is only a test site for demonstration purposes. Click your browser Back button to return to this page.

Flash Plugin Issues

If you were using Internet Explorer, did you notice this note as you put your mouse over the sample website?

Message Internet Explorer users will see when flash is used in a website

There is nothing wrong with this flash website sample. Internet Explorer users have to click a flash menu, flash website or other flash movie to activate it then click it again be able to use it. This is something to consider if your website is using a flash based menu or other feature.

Someone using Firefox that hasn't installed the Flash plug in will see this:

Sample of Firefox requesting to install Flash plugin to view a Flash website

Opera users that do not have the Flash plugin installed will see this:

Sample of Opera requesting to install Flash plugin to view a Flash website

What Search Engines See in Flash Websites

Flash websites do not contain text for search engines to read.

Using a Lynx Viewer we can determine what web page content the search engine will see on this flash web site:

Example how flash web sites look to the search engines

That's it. All the search engine is going to see is the coding for the flash movie as the content in this flash website.

As of this writing the search engines do not have the capability to read the content of a flash website.

Google Information for Webmasters suggests using this technique to examine your web page content to see how the search engine will see the page content.

Google Webmaster Help Center has a specific answer to the question:

Does Google index sites that use Macromedia Flash?

...consider using a text browser such as to examine your site. If features such as Flash keep you from seeing all of your site in a text browser, then search engine spiders may have trouble crawling your site. ....

Source: Webmaster Help Center

As you can see from the demonstration above flash websites do not contain web page content. This example does not contain web page content for the search engines to collect keyword phrases or keywords from. All the content for the whole site is contained inside the flash movie. See our article on web crawlers, search engine robots and search engine spiders for information how the web page content is examined.

You might find search engine optimization articles recommending some methods of working around the problem of indexing flash websites by using unethical methods. Don't do it! Review Google's Quality Guidelines - Basic principles and Quality Guidelines - Specific recommendations before considering any search engine optimization work arounds you find to get a flash website listed/indexed.

From a search engine optimization point of view, flash websites do not do well in the search engines due to a lack of web page content.

If you found this web page a useful resource for your own website please link as follows:

HTML Basic Tutor - www.htmlbasictutor.ca/

What are flash websites, what the user experiences, what the search engines see on a flash website.