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I am planning to build a website completely in Flex. All the contents will be static. No DB will be used. Unfortunately I am not building the website for PUMA or NIKE and so SEO is important. There is an overwhelming and confusing information out there about Flex and SEO.

The following is a piece of information I found on the web

" FLEX( Flash ) uses XML as a primary source of content, and XHTML is just a custom XML. The idea is to to use the HTML pages as XML content for the FLEX( Flash ) application. The XML can be read and indexed by the search engines, and it’s also the ideal content source for your FLEX( Flash ) application.' It goes on to explain how this can be done. Is this really that simple. "

Could someone give some credible links. SEO is important for me since I am planning to build the site for a resort.

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2 Answers

If SEO is your first priority, don't use Flex/Flash. It's now possible to create immersive experiences with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and the resulting website will likely be more accessible to people and to search engines.

If you've considered HTML and still think Flex is a better option to create a brochure site, you can follow Adobe's Search Optimization Techniques for RIAs and review how Google indexes SWF files. In summary, they suggest that you:

  1. Place all Flex text and content in the HTML source code within <noscript> tags.
  2. Use unique URLs for separate pages. (The Adobe article recommends ways to do this without having to creating one SWF file per page.)
  3. Avoid loading content from external sources where possible (e.g. loading remote XML), and embed text in the SWF file itself so that Google can read it.
  4. Use text instead of images for animated assets where you can (e.g. headers, logos, etc.).
  5. Avoid splash pages and loading Flash websites in popups (for 'full-screen experiences').
  6. Create a sitemap and submit it using Google Webmaster Tools.
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+1 ... and there isn't a strong argument for marking up an XSLT version of the site, either - XML documents will still be indexed, but X/HTML remains the only proven choice if you're after competitive rankings. –  danlefree Jun 22 '11 at 9:40
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I agree completely about not using Flash/Flex if SEO is a priority. The problems with using Flash/Flex are:

  1. Lack of semantic markup. HTML is a huge part of ranking algorithms. Less HTML means less clues as to the meaning and importance of content.

  2. If your site uses one page to load the Flash content and then all of the content changes through Flash, you essentially have a one page website. How many one page websites do you see ranking well? One page websites lack internal links which are an excellent way to "vote" for your own pages. But without those "votes" you lose the links and the anchor text in them.

There are plenty of other reasons not to use Flash/Flex for a website which includes accessibility issues and having to deal with users who do not have Flash installed on their device (i.e. Apple's mobile products. Also, the computer I am on right now does not have Flash installed).

If possible, build the site using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript using progressive enhancement. That way you ensure maximum compatibility, accessibility, and search engine friendliness. If you want to use Flash to enhance the page, go ahead and do so. But I wouldn't use it to deliver important content.

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