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As of right now, it’s still not a great idea to mix Flash and SEO unless you really know what you’re doing. If you’re trying to rank higher on search engines, it’s probably a good idea to not overload your site with Flash.  While there have been strides by the search engines to parse Flash files and grab the readable text, unless you set this up properly, chances are the Flash will end up hurting your rankings.

When to use Flash

Flash is a great tool if you have a complicated product that needs more explanation or if you need entertainment value on the website.  Secondly, with the increase in mobile internet use, Flash is still not visible on the latest iPhone and Blackberry, so it’s likely those visitors will be bouncing.  At Pear, we’re getting about 20% of our visitors from mobile devices, so you could be losing out on those visitors with a Flash landing page.

Alternative solutions to Flash

But now we can use AJAX and other javascript techniques, like sliders and expanders, to uniquely display content without bombarding the visitor with content, and yet it’s all still readable by the search engine.  Check out how ServerBeach, a dedicated hosting company, uses javascript sliders instead of Flash to nicely organize lots of information.

Setting up proper use of Flash

If you or your developer still insist on using Flash, there are some ways that you can set up your code to optimize it for SEO, and it has to do with accessibility programming.  This blog post by Jonathan Hochman is a great overview of the multiple ways you can set this up using SWFObject 2.0, or even SIFR in some cases, although I understand SIFR is more used for typography enhancements, where you would like to use a non-standard web font, but get credit for the text in an H1 tag for example.

The SWFObject method provides a way to include alternate HTML content on the page which is visible in your source code, and all it uses is a tiny javascript file.  This stems from the Web Accessibility Initiative which says all multimedia content should have an alternative way of accessing the content.