Most readers are probably well aware that there are some issues with Flash and SEO... but many folks actually believe that there is some sort of ranking penalty or other major drama that ensues for those who use Flash.
The problem with Flash as "content" for search engines isn't that search engines can't read them. The major search engines can all read Flash files.
The problem is pretty simple: it's all about trust. With Flash, it's not possible for the search engine to easily determine what content is visible to humans and what isn't. As a result, search engines can't rely on (trust) what they find in a Flash movie file, and an "all Flash" web site (no HTML content) will be a problem.
When it comes to SEO on a site that uses Flash, you have a couple of choices:
- Use HTML for static elements, and Flash for cool interactive ads, games, and everything else that Flash is good for. In this case, Flash is simply used as an embedded object, much like an animated GIF or PNG image. Users who don't have the Flash plug-in installed will just see a weird looking box.
- Provide alternative HTML content for the Flash elements. So for example, if you have a really cool drop-down menu that uses Flash, you also provide an HTML menu so that users without Flash (like search engine spiders and many humans) can still use the site.
If you do have to replace a Flash menu with HTML, you might want to head over to A List Apart, and take a look at some of the cool, groovy, and utterly bitchin' stuff that J. David Eisenberg has to share about CSS, DHTML, and DOM Design Tricks. How cool? How about an explorer-style navigation menu based on HTML lists, that will degrade perfectly in older browsers, and allow spiders to see the entire menu. Sweeeet. There's plenty more to see on that site, and any web designer who isn't aware of it yet is missing a great resource.
Several folks have emailed to ask where the newsletter has been... unfortunately, with a staff of one (1) (me) the newsletter doesn't always go on schedule. Maybe I need a ghost writer. :p