Mythbuster: Is Flash bad for your Web site ranking in the search engines?

By Chad Brubaker, CEO, www.emochila.com 

First, let's define a few terms! Flash is a coding language from Adobe, the same company that powers the PDF software you use to save all those tax returns. It is used to build Web sites that are quite attractive to the eye, using video and moving parts, promoting a "flashy" appearance.
 
HTML is a more text-based coding language that the majority of Web sites on the Internet use. Here is a Web site that is all HTML: www.terryschaefercpa.com and here is a site that has a Flash header, but an HTML body: www.grassocpa.com.
 
When Google, Yahoo! and Bing crawl the Web with their algorithms, they look for text and keywords that will be relevant to a search performed by a user. For instance if you type in "Santa Barbara CPA" in Google, you will see the most relevant Web site come up below the map: http://tinyurl.com/emochila.
 
The simple answer to the question above is YES. The problem with Flash is that the search engines read the Flash Web site content much as they would an image or video and thus cannot register the relevant text. Consequently, Web sites written in HTML will be ranked higher than those created with Flash. However, there is a way around this. If the majority of your site is coded in HTML and the site has a Flash header or Flash buttons (like www.grassocpa.com), the search engines will look past the header and catalog all of the relevant HTML content. Thus having Flash elements in your site is not a bad thing, and the Flash content can make your site appear quite attractive – just avoid having a Web site that is entirely Flash-based.
 
To be fair, I should point out that Adobe is working to adjust the language so that search engines can read the Flash content more effectively, and has made some progress, yet HTML still wins out in search.
 
As Apple co-founder Steve Jobs recently stated, "Flash is a dying technology," and it is assumed that HTML5 will become the new coding standard. HTML5 is a newer coding language that is still in beta, or testing mode, yet has been highly publicized by Jobs. Taking it further, Apple has blocked Flash on its iPhone and iPad products. However Adobe will surely not give up without a fight – a tech battle that will ensue over the coming months!
 
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