"having Flash on the front page kills the search engines effectiveness"?

My boss got a review of our website by a search optimization firm and they claim that "having Flash on the front page kills the search engines effectiveness". I think that's ridiculous; it is not a flash site, just has a .swf loading in the top section of the page.I understand that a site written entirely in flash won't be as searchable; that is not the case here. A .swf file won't do anything for or against a search engine's effectivemess...right?  Please clarify.
Thanks!
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ajnessAsked:
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jtreherCommented:
Oh my, you mentioned flash in the Online Marketing forums... tsk tsk:)

Just to clarify your question for the guys that actually answer:

Do you mean the flash is on the front page as an intro or is on the header of every page? Or is this just a flash header in the index page?

Out of curiousity, how big in dimensions and KB is this swf?
duzCommented:
jtreher -

>"having Flash on the front page kills the search engines effectiveness"

That is an over generalization, for some sites it will be true and for others it will not. Flash is just a tool and like all tools it's how you use it that's important.

>A .swf file won't do anything for or against a search engine's effectivemess...right?

It wont do anything for it and in a lot of circumstances can work against it.  You will have to show us the page in question for a definitive answer.

- duz
jtreherCommented:
duz -

I think you mean 'ajness'. I've already asked my flash question a while ago!
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duzCommented:
jtreher -

>I think you mean 'ajness'

Yes I do, sorry and apologies to ajness too.

- duz
ajnessAuthor Commented:
the site is www.mrmagnet.us; the flash is a .swf file loading on the top section of the page as a slideshow.
Hope this helps!
ajness
IanaldoCommented:
Yes flash does not help with search engines, i like flash, but wouldnt use it to display primmary imformation of a website, cause search engines start by searching from the top of the html downwards, i think for a logo you should look into some script languages for it, such as javascript for changing images!

Hope that helps

Ianaldo
ajnessAuthor Commented:
Ianaldo & all-
I understand it doesn't help; does it hurt though? is there any difference between embedding a Flash file from embedding a .wav or .gif?
Thanks!
Ajness
IanaldoCommented:
Absolutely, i would recommend embedding an animated gif in there instead of flash, not that im against flash, you could use flash in your site to displayu infomation neatly in a dynamic and colourful meaning, giving the users something good to look at, but looking at your logo on your page i think you could either create a javascript file to generate through the images or use a animated gif, getting back to the question, yeah it does hurt unfortunately becuase web spiders cant read .swf's, and they start reading from top to bottom, so they will come across the swf file first, sorry Ajness, if you wanted to keep the .swf file i recommend you go to http://www.goto.com, i think that is the site anyways, its where you can go and buy some search words for search engines, so every time someone enters that word in a search engine, your site will always be top of the list, that way you can bypass the problem with search engines and flash problems!

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duzCommented:
Ajness -

>the site is www.mrmagnet.us

I took a look and you do not need to worry about the Flash component because the whole site design is so bad that even if it was on the first page of Google no one would buy anything from it.

I hope it wasn't you Ajness but this is obviously a first website. Attention needs to be paid to the very basic rules of design, usability, information architecture and ecommerce.

Here is a basic reading list to help with that:

Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug

E-Commerce User Experience by Jakob Nielsen

The Design of Sites by Douglas K. van Duyne

The Elements of User Experience by Jesse Garrett

Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman

All at the introductory level and widely available in libraries and used book stores.

- duz
ajnessAuthor Commented:
thanks for the responses!  Duz- This was not a "first website". and the graphic design was professionally done.  The structure was mine.  The ecommerce part was tacked on after the fact, and I'm not 100% happy with the result but we have had purchases. The intent initially was that they'd call the toll free number instead of order online. The part I'm least happy with is the sales language, it's all had to come from me and I am not good at that.  On usability, it is super simple and that's intentional.  Pushing through several pages to see a simple product is not productive in my view.  I kept with a strict "keep it simple" ethos for the site.  Anyway, I'm being a bit defensive so I'll stop now. I appreciate all the responses!
Ajness
AJKConceptsCommented:
Hi ajness,

You may want to consider going with a 'search engine friendly shopping cart system'. It can do wonders for you. Have a look at http://www.onmanage.com, we recommend it for most of our clients and they love it.

Thanks
--AJK
duzCommented:
ajness -

It sure looks like a 'first website' :) and you may have paid for the graphic design but it was not professionally done.

All usability studies show that looping animation is distracting and irritating to users. In this case it has the additional failing that 195 x 737 pixels of valuable page real estate is taken up with a simplistic sequential display of five images. If the flash wasn't there but just five static images it would be a 1000% improvement but even that would not be ideal.

The kind of elementary errors that make it look like a first website to me are the absence of any navigation on the product pages, images like img003.jpg which are 120 x 30 forced into 80 x 80 so it looks like a paint spillage and what little textural information there is on the site is sometimes wrong like "Please fill out the form below" when there isn't a form below, the user has to click another link. There are lots of other basic mistakes but I think you can see why I thought this was a 'first website'.

>I'm being a bit defensive

Don't be defensive you are not under attack, although it may feel like it! You are at a fork in the road and there is a right way and a wrong way to go. I am hoping that my remarks will encourage you to read and study the books I mentioned and lead you down the correct path. It's your choice, I am just pointing you in a particular direction.

- duz
AussieWebmasterCommented:
The flash header is unnecessary... a static gif would be less distracting...
I agree with duz tere is a need to get the basics covered... the fact that you are not effectively using your title tags is a good indication....
jtreherCommented:
As a non-SEO guy, I can tell you that your design is very outdated, which doesn't mean a lack of visits necessarily (look at the god-awful drudgereport). However, a good design and navigation can mean the difference between a customer trusting you and not trusting you. I can't come up with design ideas on my own, I always pay someone for a mock-up, but I do know a good one whenever I see it.

Also, put your screen resolution to 1024x768 or 800 x 600 and view how much of the page you can see at once. Right now the main picture takes up half the screen, or the header will take up almost the whole screen. There is no need for everything to be so large by default unless you are targeting the 75+ user group.

Use that screen space like you've got an acre of it in Southern California!

Good luck. And yes, this is post-answer and has nothing to do with SEO ;)
humeniukCommented:
To clear up a misconception -

Ianaldo wrote, "i recommend you go to http://www.goto.com, i think that is the site anyways, its where you can go and buy some search words for search engines, so every time someone enters that word in a search engine, your site will always be top of the list, that way you can bypass the problem with search engines and flash problems!"  (http:/#14402055)

The fact is that you can't buy position on search engine results (not from any relevant search engine, anyway).  Ianaldo is mistaken.

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