September 16, 2009

SEO for Flash Websites – SWFObject

Considering todays blog discussion at walternaeslund.com about Lowe Brindfors, and his previous posting about Forsman & Bodenfors, I will start a series of blog posts about how to implement Flash on a website that makes it:

  1. Accessible by people regardless of disabilities
  2. Accessible by Google spiders

As a person I try to find solutions and thus this is what I bring to the discussion table. A series of how tos’ aimed to solve a problem with web bureaus not utilizing all that is good with the web format.

SEO for Flash Websites – Using SWFObject
There have been some versions of SWFObject out there for some time. In the beginning, SWFObject was called FlashObject and was developed in order for you to put an alternate, HTML version, of your content as well as your designed flash content on your site.

Basically, FlashObject detected whether or not the visitor could run javascript or not. As most search engines back then couldn’t execute javascript, they saw the HTML-version of the website rather than the SWF-file (flash file) which for a search engine is similar to an image. (Ie. as they only read the code, an image file name is little to read and thus most of what is in or on the image is not indexed by the search engine.)

Sites that adopted this technique of flash inclusion found themselves with an advantage to those websites that used the old “param, object” includsion technique.

SWFObject evolved
I have no clue if this was the reason, but I am guessing either boredom or will to constantly evolve and get better, improved the FlashObject. Todays SWFObject can read external content files and you can create variables to send into your flash file depending upon who your user is. Thus the modern SWFObject gives you the freedom to both develop flash websites that takes into account what user you are and what you’ve done previously.

The most common use of these variables (FlashVars) are however that you can include variable content in the same file. Ie. different languages, different images, different video sources. But ofcourse, the initial purpose is still satisfied.

This is a gross simplification of the process and what you can do, and it is actually not entirely accurate as you could use FlashVars in other inclusion techniques as well. However, for the sake of conversation.

How to use SWFObject
Well, there is really no point in me rewriting what has allready been said better by the creator of the SWFObject – Geoff Stern.

Learn how to include flash files with this SWFObject Video Tutorial from gotoandlearn.com.

I would also like to recommend all of you flash programmers out there to watch this a complete “How to build a flash website tutorial”. First episode below:

//Jesper

11 Comments
  • Johan, September 16, 2009 Reply

    Sorry to say that SWF Object is really old news for flash programmers, its been around for.. 3-4 years? ;)

    In my point of view it doesn't add that much for SEO either. One way to improve SEO a bit with deep linking it is to use SWF Address. Wrote a post with example Forsman&Bodenfors a while ago: http://www.galveston.se/2009/02/10/forsman-bodenfors-ar-inte-ens-20 but in my post I also mention that you need to use it wisley (logic addresses)

    Only other option for good SEO, what I know of, is a complete html fallback

  • Jesper Åström, September 17, 2009 Reply

    Indeed Johan, SWF Object has been around for AGES, and as i say, this will be a series of articles about SEO for flash developers.

    I strongly disagree with you when you say that it doesn't do much for SEO... I haven't tried JSON yet, but I know that you can pass text content from an XML-file along with your flash movie. This text content can render into a nicely formatted HTML replica of your website. Google reads what's in your html, content etc. The user gets the Flash experience.

    I don't feel like SWF Address is an option to natural html navigation (and links), but please show me a case that proves me wrong.

    //Jeper

    • Thomas Thorstensson, September 14, 2010 Reply

      I've posted an explanation of why SWFAdress is good for SEO on my blog...

  • Johan, September 17, 2009 Reply

    Ok, looking for the full series of articles then :)

    I have only used SWF Object for publishing, but if you use it combined with XML to render a html site that is another story.

    Best example of use of SWF Address is http://www.volkswagen.co.uk A really nice site with logic addresses and back/forward in your browser works. Enter no flash version there is a almost as good looking html version of the site.

    I only used SWF Address myself once (before I went nuts on using Flash) and that is for http://www.bonnierbaby.se A two year old project publishing flash with SWF Object and using SWF Address. No html fallback though.

  • Jesper Åström, September 17, 2009 Reply

    Thank you SO much for the two examples!! Please publish a post about your examble bonnierbaby.se and I'll link to it from here with keywords of your choice. Ie. what did you do and what didn't you do :D That would be awesome as it is more fun if we do the guide on many different blogs :D

    //Jesper

  • Polprav, October 16, 2009 Reply

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

  • mamta, November 5, 2009 Reply

    Hi
    Anyone interested in link exchange with seo,webdesinging,link building… websites.
    (I have quality sites of different themes)

    Contact at : mamta@netzcalibur.com


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