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SEO Myths - Part 3

Time to look at some more SEO Myths.

"Search engines cannot index pages with Flash and using Flash in your page will lower it's ranking."

Anyone who's read some of my other writings on Flash might be wondering why I have included the above opinion as a myth. You're right, I'm not a big fan of Flash but, as with many things, there is a time and a place ...

The last point first - including Flash will not lower the rank of a page or a site. It may not help it but it can't lower it. That would be like saying including images on your page will lower the rank. It could be argued that the inclusion of a Flash script could dilute the keyword density, but the counter to that is if Flash is loaded correctly this can be minimised. Besides, if this can throw it off it couldn't have been very good before.

Where Flash is a problem is relying on it for navigation or for a complete site. Search engines don't understand the graphic content of a Flash file but some, Google in particular, are making great efforts to extract the text content in Flash files. Any text extracted will be indexed. The problem is portions of the text extracted can be seen out of context and will not flow like a standard page, and the jury is still out on the issue of following links to other pages on the site.

The big mistake when using Flash is to limit the alternate text (for when Flash is unavailable) to a link to download Flash. Think about it, the majority of people who want to or are able to use Flash probably already have it loaded. By all means provide a method of downloading or upgrading Flash, if required, but make sure you also provide some content that is relevant to the purpose of the site and some contact information for the search engines and other visitors without Flash.

Stay focused on delivering the right message to your audience. Anything that distracts or annoys them while visiting your site is harmful. A mini movie complete with soundtrack does more to demonstrate the skills of the designer than inform your audience about your product or service.

In summary, the Flash commandments:

  • only use Flash when and where appropriate
  • provide alternate content for when it's not available.
  • don't use it for navigation
  • provide a way to turn off or control animated graphics and sound effects.

"Google is 80% of the market. Don't worry about other search engines!"

You can quibble about the exact percentage, but our experience suggests Google is far and away the most dominant Search Engine in operation at present, so let's assume 80% is about right. Even so, the only time this advice is good is if you only have a limited opportunity to promote your site. If that's the case, of course your effort should be with Google. Put your effort where it will do the most good.

Back in the world in which I live, I can't afford to ignore 20% of the potential market. Besides, most of the Search Engines follow many of the same basic rules, so success in one often translates to success in the others, and how hard is it to submit your site to Yahoo and NineMSN? In my opinion - not very! So why wouldn't you try to get some recognition in the other engines? If you have these 3 engines working for you, you may have more like 95% of the Search Engine market covered.

Ignoring the other Search Engines is a bit like not making some effort to ensure your website meets the minimum Accessibility Standards. Ignoring every 5th potential customer is short sighted (no pun intended) to say the least.

As usually we are happy to discuss the issues raised in this discussion. You can contact us by visiting MidBoh contact page.

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