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Add Site Search to an all-Flash site

Posted on 2008-10-14
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Last Modified: 2013-12-09
Is there a reliable way to add a Site Search feature to an all-Flash site?

I've heard that Google can read SWF files now, but I haven't seen any good evidence. (And it apparently has problems with SWFs within SWFs, and with SWFs loaded by Javascript, so that won't work for me...).

I've seen suggestions about adding duplicate text content in the HTML page, but commenting it out - but again, I haven't seen any testimonials that will work as well as a "standard" HTML search (and it really need to). That's about the most promising thing I've seen, though.

Any suggestions?
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Question by:slovisa
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7 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:Tony McCreath
ID: 22720905
I woudn't use the trick of commented out content. Its a well known way for keyword spamming and could get you banned.

If your going to duplicate the website do it for real and let search engines and limited users view an html only version of the website.

The best sounding solution I've seen is to create the content in html and use javascript to replace that with the flash object. Its debatable that this will be classed as a trick by the search engines.

Don't forget to include a good title and meta data to your file. This will be your best chance for providing the keywords you wish to score well in.
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LVL 4

Author Comment

by:slovisa
ID: 22722962
Hi Tiggerito. Thanks for your help.

When you say use javascript to replace the HTML content, do you mean redirect the HTML-only page to the "real" Flash page, or cover up the HTML with Flash over the top, or...? Sounds interesting, although it makes me realize there's also going to be a problem with deep-linking to the Flash content...

SEO actually isn't a concern for this site, it just needs to be fully searchable by users.

The other solution I'm contemplating is drawing in dynamic text from a DB, and using the DB for searching. Seems like that could work, although I've never tried something like that before.
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:Tony McCreath
ID: 22726861
If the website is searchable, then you will need to be able to deep-link into the flash to where any search result matched. Maybe have your database text associated witha url that links to inside the flash.

The javascript idea is to use the same html page but replace its content dynamically with the flash tag. This way, javascript/flash free users get a nice html page, and the rest (most if us) get the flashy stuff.

The issue with having seperate html and flash versions of a website is that search engines will mainly direct users to the html versions. You would have to thing of a nice way to switch back to flash without anoying search engines or visitors.



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Author Comment

by:slovisa
ID: 22726940
I like the content-swap idea. Can you direct me to an example script that does that?

What if I just put my content in a <div> and set the visibility to hidden? Do you think a site's search function would have any trouble with that? And would the search engines have a problem with that? (Would it looking like keyword spamming, or other undesirable activity)?
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Accepted Solution

by:
Tony McCreath earned 500 total points
ID: 22728295
Its always a worry that search engines may think you are spamming when doing this sort of thing.

I would hope, if your intensions are good, you will not get black listed. So, if you provide an html version of the content for people without flash. Thats you been nice.

Here's a good article talking about this...

http://www.hochmanconsultants.com/articles/seo-friendly-flash.shtml 
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LVL 4

Author Comment

by:slovisa
ID: 22731288
That makes total sense (duh), as I'm already using SWFObject to embed the Flash files. I'll simply add the content to the alternate div, along with the Flash message. Sometimes the obvious is so elusive when you're over-thinking a problem. Thank you!
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Author Closing Comment

by:slovisa
ID: 31506175
Great advice - thanks.
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