Flash & SEO – Is a Web Design Renaissance Looming?

I’m sure most of our readers are aware Google and other search engines have long had trouble indexing websites produced in Adobe Flash. As Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has taken on increasing importance in the last several years as well as momentum around W3C Web Standards, all Flash sites (or yikes – two sites Flash and HTML) have become somewhat of a rarity. Thankfully, the Flash intros everyone loves to skip have by and large died off as well.

Well, Google formally announced on Monday (see below) that its has enhanced its search algorithm to enable indexing of Flash content. So, the question is will this drive a renaissance in Flash-based web design? I think the answer is a dubious – yes and no.

Yes, Bring on the Flash Intros!

Certainly there will be an increase in the use of Flash in web sites – in components definitely and whole sites more moderately. Flash opens a whole new range of design options that are more difficult to accomplish in XHTML. It adds sex appeal plain and simple. It has also been slowly, but increasingly been used in Rich Internet Applications (RIA) where user interface is plays an important role to the experience. Sites that have business requirements (retail, consumer goods especially) requiring a high level of design will most certainly be the early adopters (to the extent they aren’t already building in Flash). 

No, no Flash Intro’s Please!  

Yet, I do not think we will see the wide spread use so common in the beginning of the century. Flash is more expensive to develop and more difficult to maintain. And technologies like AJAX, have to some extent chipped away at the RIA side of things. I also think we have come a long way in creating web sites that are more user friendly. So many Flash sites are developed with cool in mind (or crafting a unique experience) and not the users. Except in the extreme reaches of the design community – I don’t expect to see a repeat of that trend.   

Several other questions to ponder:

  • How good will it be in indexing Flash (I’m sure it will improve over time)
  • Will the other search engines follow suit? (Yes)
  • Will indexing eventually include Microsoft’s Flash competitor Silverlight (Hmmm, not sure)
  • Will Flash intros start to appear once again (I think not – the web community has gotten much better a user based design)

More info on Google indexing Flash for SEO

Google Learns to Crawl Flash
Improved Flash Indexing

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