will <a href="test.html"></a> be harvested?

my boss wants a splash screen giving users the option to enter either one or the other subsidiary company's website.

it has to be done in flash. i'm guessing there's no possible way that SE harvesters will grab flash links,  but would they grab links without any inner content:

<a href="test.html">Test Content</a>

... as opposed to...

<a href="test.html"></a>

thanks...
LVL 4
Jeremy DaleySenior DeveloperAsked:
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ashishjvwCommented:
Hi Friend,

Google can harvest links on flash.


Regards,
ASHISH T.
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weikelbobCommented:
>>Google can harvest links in flash

Sometimes. The robots try, but definitely don't count on it.
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weikelbobCommented:
Oh, and trying to trick the search engines never works. Don't use links with nothing in them. There's other ways to rank a flash page.
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Jeremy DaleySenior DeveloperAuthor Commented:
ok? such as?

i'm not trying to trick them... but being splash pages, i need to be assured that my underlying pages are going to be reached from this page.
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Serena HsiMarketing ConsultantCommented:
You can always just have all the hyperlinks listed on your site map page, and that will index.
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undrlineCommented:
The problem is, there's not just one type of link harvester out there, and they work in different ways.  SE's would rather that you went to their site and registered with them before they divulged this precious (and often proprietary) information.

There are two standards I know of, that are used to communicate with a harvester when it hits your site.  Both, I know of, because there is extensive documentation as to how to *stop* them from reading your site.  There is very little in way of prostrating yourself to a harvester.

Two things you need to do, if you don't want to put a link, or are worried that an empty link won't be followed:

META TAG
The official W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) specification for the HTML 4.0 meta tag can be found at:
http://www.w3.org/TR/WD-html40-970917/appendix/notes.html#h-B.1.1.2

Although that is good, it is not complete, you will need this syntax help:
    content    = all | none | directives
    all        = "ALL"
    none       = "NONE"
    directives = directive ["," directives]
    directive  = index | follow
    index      = "INDEX" | "NOINDEX"
    follow     = "FOLLOW" | "NOFOLLOW"

ROBOTS.TXT
The official W3C specification for this is at:
http://www.w3.org/TR/WD-html40-970917/appendix/notes.html#h-B.1.1.1

Also, this may be a helpful resource:
http://www.robotstxt.org/

As a personal note, you should have an exposed link for those who don't have the flash plugin.  Yes, I know it seems ubiquitous, and that I'm touting the "won't somebody please think of the outated machines and PDAs" line, but that's not always the case.  For instance, at work, people have locked-down machines.  A flash plugin won't install on an XP machine if the user doesn't have admin rights to the workstation.

-undrline
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Jeremy DaleySenior DeveloperAuthor Commented:
well i wanted to stay away from flash in the first place but it's not my call. i'm doubting they'll be up for putting a visible link there also. they most likely don't care about general users... only propspective clients, of which will have a CFO or something viewing the page. so i don't think administrative rights are an issue.

my main question regardless of other search bots. will GOOGLE harvest a blank <a href>?
would it know if i had white text against a white background? if so, would it be so advanced to scan the color of a black IMAGE background with black text against it?

i appreciate all of your input there undrline, but i'm not sure if any of that is an actual solution to my problem. i'm trying to understand if the directives thing and noindex nofollow meta information were proposed ideas of how i can resolve my issue or if it was a tutorial on the robots meta. could you post a sample tag or something that would work with a blank <a href>?

you said:
"Two things you need to do, if you don't want to put a link, or are worried that an empty link wn't be followed." so does that mean there IS a way to get a blank <a href> harvested. THAT's what i want some example code for.

i don't mean to sound impatient or ungrateful. i am just the opposite... very thankful and appreciative for your effort regarding my issue.
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weikelbobCommented:
Anything like placing white text on a white background or otherwise trying to "trick" the search engines can get you banned. Google is watching for that and there's actually a page where competitors can submit your site if you are doing such things. One thing you could do is work on optimizing the next page after the flash. Search engines see 2 pages on a site kind of like entirely different sites. You can optimise each one individually.
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Bernard S.CTOCommented:
I would probably try to convince my boss that we have to play both methods:
- having a nice flash screen with embedded links , for thos who like these flashy screens
- having just under the flash a text nav bar with 2 - 5 links to the pages of the site.
I would explain that this will bring me the best of 2 worlds: graphical pleasure for users [and I would avoid any argument here], textual information for:
- those who have a low-speed link and will skip over the flash, or more generally would NOT understand that the flash wcould be user to enter the site
- those stupid robots we need so badly and which give us a no choice.

AT THE MINIMUM, YOU MUST put 1 word/link to the "real page", that could be somethnig like "skip/enter".

NOTE: having some text will GUARANTEE that most users will go to next pages, and that the robots will too.
Your boss is going to invest some money in the site... this has to have a return at least with visitors and visited pages!
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Jeremy DaleySenior DeveloperAuthor Commented:
i apologize... though i understand 50 points isn't very much... i would certainly hate to short the experts on them. i forgot i posted this quesion.

weikelbob... thanks for the warnings. i'll definitely not try to fool the bots.

cogitate... thanks for helping me realize the benefits of a site map.

fibo... thanks for the straightforward ideas
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