June 16, 2009

FLEX your SEO muscles - A guide to optimizing RIA-based sites

A standard question while building a Flex-based website – will this website be search engine friendly? Search engines, popular lore suggests, are unable to see inside Flex websites. And of course, the importance of SEO cannot be overlooked. But rest easy… a few tweaks here and there can make Google crawl your website quite easily. Let’s show you how:

Feeding Flash/ FLEX content to search engine spiders

· If the flash movie or file is embedded using the <embed> or <object> tags, then <noembed> tag can be used to display the content of flash movies to users who don’t have Flash plug in installed. It will also be displayed to the search engine spiders.

· If the flash file is loaded through JavaScript, then the <noscript> tag should display the content.

· The flash file can be loaded within <DIV> tags, with the content within the DIV so that the text is displayed to the users unable to view flash, as well as to the search engines.

· While developing the flash website Flash remoting can be used. In this method, all the content that is supposed to go into a flash movie is put in an XML file. Then it is pulled dynamically to the flash files, instead of directly putting content within the flash movies. This will help the search engines to index the flash content.

· Another option is to put the text in HTML and use the document.write JS in flash to write the text in flash movies. This also allows the Search Engines to index the content within flash movies. Users browsing with flash disabled browsers would still be able to view the content.

FLEX your SEO muscles A guide to optimizing RIA-based sites

Using Macromedia Flash Search Engine SDK

Flash search engine SDK (software development kit) is an open source tool from Macromedia that allows search engines to modify flash files. The SDK includes an application named “swf2HTML” which extracts text and links from a Macromedia Flash SWF File and returns the same to an HTML document.

SDK can inter-operate any links that are in the action script as long as they adhere to the following criteria:

  • The link is contained within single (‘ ‘) or double quotes (” “)
  • The link prefix is HTTP
  • The link suffix is SWF, HTML, JPG, WAV or CFM

SDK, by default will extract the following text from the flash files

  • Text on stage in the current movie (dynamic, static or input text that has an initial value assigned)
  • Text on stage in a movie that is called with movieClip.attachMovie()

Hope that answers all your questions. So FLEX your SEO muscles and be easily searchable on Google at the same time!

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