Keywords Lost

Flash is cool, but you still need to be careful how you use it. A classic mistake to make when designing a website is to use images to convey a text message.  Search engines can’t read them, some pda’s won’t display them, and it will most likely create an accessibility problem for those who rely on text version only browsing. Having text in a flash object is basically the same thing for most search engines, and for those of you that have heard that Google can now start reading text in flash, don’t think that it can read all text.

Text in Images is Invisible

Text in an image is invisible to search engines, and when that image is in flash it’s just as invisible. Using  this Austin Real Estate site, you can see a great example of flash failing the owner, the search engines, and the users. Looking at their screen shot below you can see the flash they used in the header.

Screen shot of Austin Texas Real Estate site header

I don’t know about you, but if this was my real estate site, I would definitely want those keywords visible to search engines. Search engines can’t read them. How do I know? Well for one, Google is the only search engine currently claiming they can read flash sites. So that means unless it’s Google, it can’t read it. The second more important reason, is actually seeing that Google did not read it. Here is a link to text version Google has cached of the site. Notice the text Google indexes for the site starts at the menu below the header flash. Text in this flash? It’s invisible.

Google Can Read Flash

If Google can read text in flash, why can’t it read this sites text? It can’t read the text in this flash because, really, there is none. It’s just an animated image that has some text on it. There is no menu, text content, or links for Google to do anything with. When Google finds text in flash, it’s reading things like the flash menu, or links within the menu, not the pictures. What failed this sites SEO? Images conveying a text message!

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