Quick question for all you power-marketers out there: Is Flash any good for SEO? If you answered in the negative, have I got news for you.
Historically, marketers have been torn between using Flash video content to engage an audience, and static HTML content for search engine optimization. In recent years, HTML has emerged as the better solution, as the process of optimizing Web content for search has become more fully developed. In a perfect world, marketers would be able to create dynamic and engaging video content without sacrificing popular best practices for SEO.
Now this is possible. Search-optimized Flash video content can be embedded on search optimized Web pages to boost the search rank for targeted keywords. And best of all, the code that allows for this functionality can be generatedautomatically.
Traditionally, SEO objectives have been achieved, in part, by incorporating keyword-rich HTML Meta tags into a Web page, filling the page with relevant text content, and letting the search engines crawl all of it. The problem is that search engines only search text; rich-media content like video (and especially Flash video) is essentially invisible to search engine spiders.
In fact, with HTML it is impossible to optimize a video for search. It may sound counterintuitive, but the only way to optimize a video object for search -- and I mean the object itself, not the page on which it resides -- is with Flash.
It's true. Flash content -- including Flash video -- can be optimized for search. The trick is to use a process called SWFObject to insert searchable text within the lines of code that you use to embed your video onto a website. And no, this isn't a black-hat technique. Many large corporations use this same process to help them rank higher for specific search terms.
So what does this mean for the future of HTML? While it may seem like a minor development, the major advantage of using HTML over Flash has traditionally been that the former was searchable, and the latter was not. Considering that Flash is nearly ubiquitous, and that Flash content has far greater potential to engage viewers than static HTML content, the fact that the SEO barrier has fallen for Flash might be very bad news indeed for HTML.