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Is Your Website Too Hip For Search Engines?

If you want search engines crawlers to find your content, design your site so your text is text, not images. By hiding subject matter from search engines, you’re creating obstacles to good website rankings. It confuses me that anyone would decide to implement their site in a way that gets in the way of people visiting it.

Is this a “cool factor” that I am unaware of? I ask because a lot of sites that eschew text are creative organizations with amazing content; Flash may be preferred to text because of greater control over layout and appearance. Yet, unless done thoughtfully, Flash can completely interfere with search engine findability.

Below are a few examples of sites that are findable, more in spite of their websites than because of them. (The irony of annotating these with image-based text does not elude me.)

It appears the Beatles are popular enough that they don’t need their page content spidered in order to get top rankings. This pricey-looking page has practically no search engine friendly content. But it’s on the Beatles’ official site; John Lennon famously claimed that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Are you more popular than Jesus? No? Then don’t use images for text.

Weiden + Kennedy is my favorite ad agency. But their website not only obscures all of the incredible work they feature, it also looks pretty dated. Making all the text on this site visible to search engines would be pricey. But who can afford to have a website that’s hidden from search engines? W+K clients include Coca Cola, ABC, Starbucks and Nike, so maybe they can. But I still don’t see why they would.

A few of us around the office are really into the spontaneous public concert videos website blogotheque. Nearly all of the text on their home page is invisible to search engines. (See? They’re so cool I just had to link to you so I could tell you about them! Clooney.) Fortunately their detail pages, which contain much more text, make good use of html.

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One Response to "Is Your Website Too Hip For Search Engines?"

  • Brian Kelly
    June 18, 2008 - 8:32 am Reply

    Is there much work being done by Adobe, or others, to make rich flash content with lots of text more indexable? Perhaps pointers in the flash animation itself that contain indexable keywords that allow links to point to specific parts of the animation.

    Or, is the suggested future approach to use flash more sparingly and surround it with meaty HTML descriptions?

    That W+K website is cra-razy.

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