Only a mere 2-3 years ago I was suggesting to clients that they not use flash and those who insisted ended up with an Alt-site that effectively rendered their content crawlable and indexable for SEO purposes.
As time went on though, we in the industry continued to move on and really start to strongly recommend against flash sites.
Fast forward almost 3 years and we have yet another compelling reason to suggest flash not be used. Not because Google can’t effectively read flash, but definitely because of Google once again.
Recently Google introduced us all to Google Instant. In a nutshell, Google Instant allows searchers to view a snapshot of a website without clicking over to it by way of a glorified thumbnail image of the page listed in the SERPS.
A topic for another post will be about how, now that Google Instant is rolled out, being #1 in the Google results may not mean what it used to, as the better looking site (perhaps in the #3 position) may get the lion’s share of clicks.
As for Flash and Google, the image that Google displays in Google Instant does not display the Flash elements…not even a snapshot. What does this mean for sites with Flash elements, or that are completely rendered in flash? Those page elements will display as missing.
So, what else does this have to do with SEO? Well, if we look at SEO as a means of driving more traffic to a site, another whole aspect of SEO is providing a useful and relevant experience once that traffic hits the site. So, if Google Instant is being used as somewhat of a predictive model for potential visitor experience, having missing elements in the preview can easily work against you.
The most ironic example that I’ve seen is Youtube (owned by Google). Go ahead, search Google for Youtube and look at the Instant preview — most of the content is missing. I get it, the Youtube brand is so massive that it needs little introduction by way of an Instant preview, but the preview looks awful.
So, it wasn’t enough that Flash content couldn’t readily be crawled and indexed, but now with Google Instant, your Flash elements have the potential of working against you without even being rendered on screen during a visit.