So have you ever wondered just what the search engines see when they visit your site? Here’s a great way to get an idea of it. I’d like you to open another browser window so you can navigate to your website without losing my site window.
I’ll assume you’ve done that. Now view the “source” code of that page. With each browser you will have to access this a little differently, but you’ll find the option somewhere in the top navigation bar for your browser.
Now, unless you know a little bit about html, you probably won’t understand much of what you see in this window. Here’s the catch — if you don’t find the text on your home page clearly visible somewhere in this long (hopefully!) page of code, then either can the search engines! This code very closely resembles exactly what the search engines see when they visit your site.
If the text of your home page is embedded in images or in a flash presentation, then the search engines have no way to “read” your home page. Your home page is the page that is supposed to give the search engines all the information they need to know about your website; for instance, the name of your company, what your company generally does, all the links to the other pages in your website, the location of your business (for geo-location purposes), etc. If the search engine spiders don’t find that information there, they will simply move on to the next website. That will invariably leave you wondering for weeks, months, even years why your site just doesn’t show up on the first page when you search for it, even though you’re the only widget builder in town.
Can you see where this is going? I can’t tell you how many times I hear clients say something like, “My site must have the WOW factor right when people get there. I want a flash splash page!”
Okay, I’m done gagging. People, people, people! Flash is great! Yes, I’ll say that. But please, can we constrain it to pieces strategically placed on well-optimized home pages? NOT the whole darn page, please. Go out there and find a website that I’m sure really has the WOW factor (that’s ‘why oh why’ in my book) because of its flash intro. Please view the source code of that page. You will find that the source code is only about 15 or so lines long, and not one bit of it contains the all-important text about your company that the search engines need to find.
Now I’ll admit that Google has started pulling text out of flash pieces, but they are the only search engine doing this.
I’m just amazed when I visit a site that has the entire site navigation built in flash. How does that company expect the search engines to navigate to any page other than the home page? It can’t be done.
If I am able to dissuade just one person from insisting on a flash splash page, then I’ve accomplished my mission here. Please just let that be you.