Today’s post might seem a little technical… but the theory and issues behind it are pretty straight forward. It was inspired by my current Casting Site Directory project and this problem has caused me numerous issues while compiling the directory.
The Voice Artists Portal
One of the most important marketing tools for the Modern Voiceover artist in our day and age is a well designed and informative website. This is your portal on the interweb and a means for the whole online universe to be able to access information about you the way you want to be seen and heard.
I won’t waste your time with what you should have on your website… you know what should go there and you’ve seen it on other sites.
What I want to talk to you today is why some of the websites being put up are getting almost no search engine generated hits.
In a word…. Flash
Bit Of Modern History
Flash at one point in time was Macromedia’s Cash Cow… and made Adobe… the Graphics and Multimedia Giant look bad since it was not the one to come up with that technology… what did they do? They went and bought out the competition … paid billions of dollars and made Flash their cash cow…
I know this because I went through the heartbreak of watching Adobe do that to Macromedia (the underdog) and as a Art Director at the time… this meant there was nobody on the market anymore to challenge adobe.To this day I don’t know why an anti-trust lawsuit isn’t brought against them.
Adobe has done this before with Cool Edit Pro… they went and bought it out from Syntrillium and made it Adobe Audition. But to their credit they have constantly improved and upgraded the functionality of Audition…. but this doesn’t change how I feel about them…
I hate Adobe…. almost as much as I hate Apple and sometimes Microsoft.
It is an unfortunate situation for me since for some reason I almost always root for the Underdog…
Anyway (Geez taji what a tangent) back to our post… So you decided you want to make your website wicked flashy and interactive and amazing looking. So you contacted a flash developer and asked them do build the website for you.
Here is the main problem with Flash… Search Engines like Google and Yahoo and that pathetic Microsoft one … they can’t read the text embedded inside the flash files… and Search engines depend on keywords to tag , target and rank so they can help people find your website amongst the billions of other websites actually out there.
And here is where most of you inexperienced folk go wrong… Instead of paying a little extra to your designer to design (along with the flash version of the site) a basic none super duper interactive HTML version of the same site… you skimp out and blame your frugality at the economy and think that a flash based version is good enough.
But it isn’t… because what you just did is SEO suicide… some of the less technically savvy will ask me here. What is SEO? is it a mispronunciation of the Korean City where they once held the olympics? Is it how a red neck abbreviates See You?
Nay dear reader… it is an abbreviation for the most important thing your website should be designed with:
Search Engine Optimization
If your site has not been properly optimized to be seen by today’s search engines… then you’ve shot yourself in the foot and wasted money to boot (pun intended).
Flash is a great medium for getting your website to look flashy, run animations, present an interactive spectacle the world has never seen before and quite possibly will never see since.
But … if you don’t design the flash as a part of the website instead of AS the website… then you have pretty much missed the point.
The Directory Connection
Why did this suddenly come up you might ask… well as you know I have been working quite hard on compiling a directory for all the Voice Over Casting sites on the web that I can possibly find. As of this moment I’ve reached 180+ site listings… in the quest for seeking out all these different sites… I’ve noticed that the casting sites with the worst search engine visibility are the ones that have been fully built in flash.
They look great (well some of them… allot look tacky and quite gaudy) but the person who built the site for them (the web / flash developer) did not explain to them that with a fully flash website there is a high possibility that your website will not be seen by search engines.
If you run a blog or have your own website … you will probably … or eventually… register with a free service by Google called Analytics…This service runs a code on your website that monitors how many people have visited your site… what they looked at… and most importantly how they were able to find your website.
It respects user confidentiality so I don’t actually know WHO came to my site … just that they might be visint from America, Canada or anywhere else connected to the internet.
Thus far Taji’s Voice Emporium has been visited by people from 85 countries…. If you don’t think that’s impressive… try naming 85 countries off the top of your head (without using that animaniacs song).
In Fact I decided on buying the domain voiceemporium.com instead of tajisvoiceemporium.com because I noticed that most of the people who have been to my website but cannot remember the long URL http://voiceover-casting.com/emproium tended to remember that the blog contained the words voice and emporium in the name so they would go to google and type in Voice Emporium in the search field… so after a score of similar search terms I figured that was the safest bet for my blog’s domain name.
Get to the Point I’m Busy…
The point is… there are ways to have a flash-y site and still retain SEO. There are articles about the technical aspects of it … like this one How To SEO Flash but they do need technical knowledge and a good flash developer.
Which brings me to another aspect of flash websites…. they are not easily updateable. You will always have to go and update the flash files through a flash developer… On my website www.mahmoudtaji.com I am pretty much the developer… I got some basic setup done for me by my friend Nur Ahmed Furlong from South Africa but I had agreed with him from the beginning that I wanted a website content management system that I can edit myself.
And funny enough my starting a blog on the buddypress system (the one used by voiceover-casting.com to run their site) allowed me to get familiar with WordPress enough to be able to manage my site easily.
So here is my advice to you folks…. If you decide to build your whole website in flash… get an HTML version of it made as well.
If you want something easily updated by yourself… get a dynamic content management system installed (like wordpress or drupal ) installed and if you still want flash for a bit of fireworks…. then get your developer to add little bits of it… not build the whole site in it… make little animated banners or Page Title headers done in it if you like… but don’t make it the center of your website’s universe.
The Fast Approaching Milestone
And finally … I just wanted to mention that Taji’s Voice Emporium is fast approaching its 100th post. This current one you are reading is number 95.
I had decided when I first started the blog that if I don’t receive any decent reviews or comments from my readers about the blog that I would make the 100th post the last one.
So I leave it to you dear readers… Should I go on? or should I hang up my hat and call it a day?