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Media Rich Home Pages

Media-rich home pages contain Flash, images, video and other multimedia files as the primary content. If you only remember one thing about search engines, remember this: search engines can only read text.

Search engines cannot read images or text written on images. They cannot read text inside of Flash movies or understand voiceover commentary from a video. Pdfs are often encoded as jpeg images and cannot be read by search engines when saved in this format. Search engines can only read text contained in HTML and in meta tags (which are specifically written for search engines).

One common misuse of Flash is the "Splash" or "Landing" page. This is a page that is just a picture or movie with only an "Enter Here" link on it. Since search engines cannot read the content of an image or Flash movie, this page looks blank to them. If the "Enter Here" link is also coded inside the Flash movie the search engines cannot see the link and will not be able to get to any of the pages inside your site regardless of whether they employ Flash or HTML.

Some web sites are written entirely in Flash and are not accessible to search engines as is. There are a few ways around the Flash barrier, like creating an HTML version of the site with meta tags and using additional navigation links in HTML. But why place a barrier to search engines on your site in the first place? We recommend using Flash for decorative purposes. We recommend that it only be used in such a way that if it were removed, search engines would still have everything necessary to index the site correctly.

To test your site's accessibility to search engines check if you can copy and paste the text from the web browser to your text editor. If the text is written in HTML you will be able to do this. If you can't, it is likely that search engines will not be able to read this text. A site done entirely in Flash or with images is usually the result of a company web development effort driven primarily by graphic design personnel with little or no input from web development professionals. If you are developing a website for business rather than for a movie, an event, or an art exhibit, you are better off listening to the advice of web development professionals who are trained in SEO concepts for maximum ROI through better search engine placement.

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