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Apple Vs Flash Vs SEO

April 20th, 2010 | | Usability

The war about the idea of excluding Flash to be viewable on Apple devices brings the whole notion of Flash and SEO to the forefront again.

Flash has been a favorite of web designers for years and the bane of SEO experts for just as long. The argument of whether or not content organized within a Flash object (such as navigation menus) seemed to find a somewhat compromise. Google stated that information within Flash objects can be indexed and are working on it, but the whole point might be moot with Apple’s reluctance to have Flash run on its devices.

I had two instances where flash was causing me trouble:

1. I had an ad built for me and it was put in Flash. This ad was going to be on a highly trafficked site where ads did really well on conversions in the past month. But now I had a choice. Anyone with an iPhone or iPad would not see this ad. Is it worth it? I didn’t think so, so I had them change the format.

2. While reading a blog, they wanted to share some content – a “hey, check this out” piece of viral content. Since I was reading it on my iPhone, I couldn’t view it. At the speed of social media and blogging content, to ask myself to go back and find whatever that was seemed counter-productive.

What’s this have to do with SEO? Visibility

The point of SEO in marketing it to get your service or product that’s represented by your website in front of the most relevant eyes as possible. Let us assume that Google was able to index Flash object and all the content they contained just as fast and accurate as they do with regular text. Besides the thousands of skills of graphic designers becoming hotly desired, the level of effectiveness suddenly changes to the power of Apple’s market share. If the iPhone was the only Apple device that didn’t support flash, that segment of the population could be ignored. Now with the iPad launched as a mobile-computer-type-thing, it increases the possibility of people who didn’t want an iPhone and get an iPad.

Ok, two devices now … really popular devices, not supporting a particular platform. Content and websites are not only not search-able, they don’t even come up. I was once thinking about letting flash objects on my sites, purely for decoration, but now I’m not so sure. Mobile versions of sites are fine, but an iPad allows for a full site to be seen. This guyditched the Facebook app for the iPad for the actual Facebook site.

What’s this have to do with SEO? Volume

Where is your target audience? How can you get the most people in that demographic? What are their computing habits? When I was designing CD-ROMs back in 199x, we had to design the programming that could be handled by the slowest possible computer in our targeted demographic. I still do this today. Right now my target demographic is strictly surfering compatiable. They don’t update their flash players, adobe readers or browsers. They may or may not have broadband. And they are completley paranoid about pop-ups. So my sites look “older” in the terms of web standards. I use a lot of text, hypertext, no java or flash and my sites rank high and people here like them. They’d get blown out of the water in another region (maybe) but it’s all about serving the needs of your target audience in the way most relevant to them.

I don’t know how this will all end. Will Apple grab ahold of dominant market shares and throw Flash into obsolesence? Will Adobe make flash so ubiquitous that Apple will have to continue to ignore it or allow it? Will Google swoop in with a killer app that will catch both Adobe and Apple off guard? Since this an SEO blog, I’m keeping my eye on what Google is doing.  And if you are wondering how your site can be seen by the most relevant people to increase your sales, I’d suggest you do the same.

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  • Scott S.

    Good read – going back about 10 years I remember when Flash was thought to be “the future of the web”.

    Fast-forward to today it is very clear Flash can deliver some very interesting elements to user experience … but clearly has drawbacks for multiple reasons. Seems proprietary development is taking a beating when it comes to the internet now.

    It will be interesting to see how thorough and how quick HTML 5 will perform in comparison to Flash. If HTML 5 can pull off everything Flash can do with minimal issue this could very well be the beginning of the end for Flash.

  • http://www.natfinn.com/ How to Publish a Book of Blues. Hopefully (or Finn :-) )

    What about the thought of using a static image behind the flash so apple products can see something?