We’ve all seen them before, although they are becoming a bit more rare these days. You visit a website looking for actual information (really?) and instead you find a big, bloated fanciful flash intro with zooming text and Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra blaring (yes, it’s now better known as the 2001 Space Odyssey Theme, but I will always remember it as the opening to the Elvis Aloha in Hawaii concert).
Apparently someone felt their website was so awe-inspiring and awesome that it needed a monumental fanfare to announce it before your mere mortal eyes were allowed to actually view it. That, or someone’s nephew just bought Flash and did a really cool job zooming a logo in and out.
I don’t want to limit my distaste to just Flash home page intros; make no mistake, any kind of intro graphic or non-text landing page is a bad idea. I can assure you that your visitors don’t appreciate your logo as much as you do, and don’t want to have to click past it just to get to your web content. And if you’re selling something, forget it. There’s a good chance someone has already left your page rather than stay and figure out where the “skip intro” link is located. According to these guys who did some research on it 25% of your site visitors will leave once they see an intro page.
But it’s not only a bad idea for your visitors; Google hates them also. Take a look at the following screen shot from a website with a Flash intro which had been indexed by Google:
I’ve changed the URL and description to protect the site owner from mass ridicule and scorn, but you can clearly see Google has recognized the fact that the home page flash element was just a worthless piece of introductory fluff. In a service to search visitors, Google has created a direct link to skip the intro content and get right to the main website. Why would Google want to circumvent your nifty Flash intro? Because it annoys users, plain and simple. So if you don’t want to take my word for it, listen to Google. Or you can take this SEO’s word for it.
Hold on, you say, I went to brandx.com (insert top national name brand here) and their entire site is a big flash intro. So if they’re doing it, why can’t I? If you’ve got a well-known brand name with massive marketing dollars behind you then you can put up whatever you want; you’re not going to rely on organic traffic as much.
But if you’re one of us small to medium-sized business owners, you’re better off focusing on increasing your organic search potential with actual keyword text and information on your website rather than trying to wow 3 visitors a day with an expensively designed flash site. Not that Google can’t index Flash, it can, but with sometimes mixed results. So why make it harder on Google to find you?