SEO Pseudo Alert: Google Crawling Flash

For many years anybody who knew anything about search engine optimization “SEO”, would scoff at the idea of using more than minor number amount of Flash elements in websites, because for many years those Flash elements were largely invisible to search engines – most notably Google – and therefore sites that used Flash would often rank lower than others simply because Google could not recognize the Flash parts of their content.

Designers like Flash because it offers a very dynamic and attractive way to present information.  It is image rich and context poor.   At least until today’s Google announcement that they have figured out a way to index Flash stuff.

Although this is great news for the millions of sites using Flash that will now probably enjoy somewhat better rankings as their Flash content and navigation (link structure)  is better indexed by Google, I’d caution designers to keep avoiding Flash until this process is much better understood.  I’d guess that one of the key defects of flash sites – having navigation that is opaque to the Googlebot – will continue to be problematic even under the new systems.    A good designer can get much of the same “look and feel” of flash with good use of good images, art, and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and from an SEO perspective I think sites are still well advised to note the best observation I’ve ever heard about SEO from Matt Cutts at Google – almost certainly Matt is the world’s most authoritative expert on Google ranking and SEO:

“Googlebot is stupid”, said Matt, so you need to help it figure out your website.

I guess Googlebot is smarter now that it recognizes Flash, but Matt’s advice about this is still very relevant and frankly simpler than most people think.    Here’s some SEO advice for newbies:

1) Think In terms of ranking *properly* rather than ranking higher than sites that are better than you are.   If competitors are more relevant think of ways to make *your site* and *your product* more relevant.

2) Research keywords (or just guess if you are lazy) and make a list of those that you want to rank well for.

3) Make sure your content is rich in the keywords for which you are ranking well.   Make sure your page Titles use those keywords in the Title for the page, and use unique, keyword rich titles for each of your pages.    Make sure the content in the page is very relevant to the query – ie is this something that is going to help the reader out in their journey to enlightenment?    If not, make it so!

4) Links, links, links.    These are the mother’s milk of online success.   Do not buy them, earn them and get them from other sites in your network, sites of friends, etc.    Establish relationships of relevance with others that will get them to link to your website.     Avoid cheap linking schemes – as always think in terms of what creates a valuable resource for your readers.

5) Blog.  Blog more.  Google appears to be ranking blog content favorably and I predict they’ll need to do even more of this as blogs are replacing websites as the freshest and most relevant content on most topics.

Whether you are a mom and pop or a multinational, if you want to rank well online you should be blogging regularly about your topics.   When blogging, follow the rules 1-4 above.

6) Lower your monetary expectations.   Making money online is much harder than offline people think.   Even most Silicon Valley insiders generally only make big money from a handful of projects.    The overwhelming majority of startups fail, often leaving the founders with nothing but the memory of hard work.

7) Raise your personal expectations.  The online world is fascinating, exploding in popularity and significance, and is where you need to be.  Get on board with a blog!