There’s been a lot of coverage in the blogosphere as of recent about the new friendship between Google & Adobe Flash. As reported in the Official Google Blog, the search giant has taken significant steps to improve the indexing of Flash files.
Before, Google was only interested in indexing static text, but now will also index dynamic text. The specifics of exactly what Google will crawl and what it will give more value to have been discussed, yet much still remains vague. As a safe practice, small businesses wishing to be indexed high for important key phrases therefore should avoid developing Flash heavy web sites. (By Flash heavy I am referring to web sites that utilize a flash navigation, are fully built out in flash, or display the bulk of their content in Flash. This is not referring to flash banners or the auto-scrolling multihero) Here are five reasons why small business should stay clear of developing Flash heavy web sites.
Small businesses can benefit significantly from services like Google Analytics. With Analytics, business owners have the ability to monitor visitor web site usage, track traffic, and view what web pages are receiving the most clicks. While Analytics is capable of Flash Event Tracking, set-up is often more difficult than set-up on standard HTML pages.
2) Conversion Tracking
Similar to Analytics, conversion tracking is often more difficult to install and monitor on Flash web sites than HTML web sites. For a small business with a limited online advertising budget, conversion tracking is crucial to properly optimize spend. Installation, tracking, and troubleshooting conversion tracking can potentially become a nightmare on Flash heavy sites. Not to mention be very costly to have web developers implement.
3) Google Love
Google <3 HTML. Google’s Flash crawling algorithm is still in its infancy and has a long way to go. Without a doubt it will continue to change as exploits are discovered and it refines its method of ranking web sites. What that means to flash web sites is that one may rank highly today, but tomorrow drop completely out of the search engine results pages (SERPS). For a small business, using Flash in this sense is a huge gamble because of the ever changing environment. Additionally, text found on full Flash web sites is difficult for Google to differentiate. Google can’t distinguish between important text and standard text, while in HTML websites, these would often be denoted by <h1> and <p> tags.
4) Development Pricing & Templates
Full flash web sites are generally more pricey to develop from the ground up than standard HTML web sites. While templates are a less costly alternative to developing a Flash web site from the ground, using them brings up duplicate content issues. When many other web sites are already using the same template, this can significantly hurt a small business’ chance of ranking in Google and its overall success online. In the long run, HTML web sites are also often easier to maintain or hand off as more web developers are comfortable with HTML than with Flash.
5) Flash Doesn’t Really Work With The iPhone
As reported on TechCrunch, Apple sold over 1 Million iPhone 3G’s during the first weekend of its release. While it’s true that the US is still far behind in mobile internet usage, for a small business it comes down to a simple concept: If a competitor’s web site is easily viewable on a smartphone and yours is not, you lose that mobile traffic and potential customer.
As the internet continues to grow, users of the mobile net will come to expect more of web sites and optimization for mobile browsers will become a norm. It then becomes part of the overall online marketing strategy to optimize for all customers, regardless of what platform they are browsing on.
For small businesses, an HTML web site is a more scalable solution than a Flash web site. While web site needs vary from business to business, adding shopping carts, product feeds, and new sections are also easier and less costly on HTML web sites. With that said, small businesses looking for search visibility should highly consider HTML options before Flash heavy web sites.
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