Flash and AJAX
Unfortunately, both Flash and AJAX technologies can pose major problems for search engines when
used pervasively. Sites that are entirely Flash or AJAX based will not be indexed very well, if it all.
The rationale is fairly simple. Search engines are designed to index pages, not applications.
Furthermore, even if a search engine could figure out how to interpret a Flash file or AJAX application
adequately, parsing and indexing its pertinent content, there would be no way to navigate to that par-
ticular part of the application using a URL. Therefore, because the primary goal of a search engine is
to provide relevant results to a user, a search engine will be hesitant to rank content in those media
well. Lastly, both Flash and AJAX would invite several more innovative and harder-to-detect forms
The Blended Approach
But before you assume that we vilify Flash and AJAX completely, there is somewhat of a solution. A site
designer should only use Flash and AJAX for the areas of the site that require it. This is called
. He or she should design an HTML-based site, and employ Flash and AJAX technologies where
they will provide a tangible benefit to the user. He or she should attempt to keep as much of the textual
content HTML-based as possible.
these technologies. For example, clicking a button could hide or unhide an HTML
element. This will
involve employing the use of smaller Flash or AJAX elements placed inside a traditional HTML layout.
In other words, you should use Flash and AJAX as elements on a page, not as the page itself.
Some SEM authorities also recommend providing a non-Flash or AJAX version of content using
, respectively. Unfortunately, because those tags are invisible (and have
been used so pervasively for spam), their efficacy is questionable. Search engines may choose to ignore
the content therein completely. They may, however, enhance usability for users with disabilities, so it is
not unwise to employ them for that purpose.
This solution also misses the mark for another reason — a typical Flash or AJAX site exists on a single
“page,” therefore further limiting the utility of the tag, because all content would presumably have to
exist on that one page!
Figure 6-15 shows an image of a site that looks like a full Flash application, but was changed to HTML
with DHTML and hidden layers. The presented link is
Sites built entirely with Flash or entirely with AJAX involve a huge paradigm shift.
They do not employ pages for the various elements of a site; rather, they are, more or
less, an application embedded on a single page.
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