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If you’ve been to a photographer convention recently, you’ve undoubtedly been bombarded with talk about promoting your business on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, and your website. Great! More tasks to add to the list. Since your studio may finally be slowing down for a few months, you may have some time to invest in your online presence. I’d recommend not overwhelming yourself with too much at once. Pick one thing and do it well. The one thing that we’re going to be focusing on today is your website.

Many of you will be considering a flash website to promote your studio. While flash websites do tend to be more eye-catching, there are some issues with Search Engine Optimization (getting your website to show up in Google) that you’ll want to consider before spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a flash website.

Why Flash Is Bad For SEO
Why would a technology that is so popular be a problem for search engines? The problem basically comes down to the way the flash files are stored on your website. Flash files are encoded in a language that’s not easy for search engines to decode. A non-flash website relies heavily on html, which is a much easier language for search engines to understand. That’s why so many photographers are passing up the chance to use flash. They would rather show up higher in Google so more visitors (meaning more potential customers) find their website.

Create A Knock-out Website Without Flash
For the photographers who choose to stick with an html website, the biggest challenge is finding a way to make their websites as attractive as the flash websites the visitors have seen for other photographers. Some photographers who succeed at showing up higher in Google fail miserably at creating a visually appealing website. The result – the website gets plenty of new visitors from Google, but the visitors don’t book sessions because they aren’t impressed with the website.

Not getting site visitors to convert is even worse than not showing up in search engines. Otherwise, you’ve just wasted your time and money on your website. If you’ve got talent for designing and creating web sites, I’d highly recommend sitting down and coming up with a design that will impress your visitors. Don’t just throw something together. If you’re not a designer or you don’t know html (that’s probably the majority of photographers), you can also consider buying a well-designed template. A word of caution on templates though – they tend to look “templately”. Templately meaning that customers will be able to tell that it’s a template, and it may have been a template they’ve seen another photographer use before.

If you’re wanting something completely unique and amazing, try hiring a web designer to take care of creating the website for you. I would personally recommend that you take a look at www.zakgraphix.com . I’ve used ZakGraphix for projects in the past, and I’ve always been impressed. Just make sure whoever you use is going to make your website draw out the ooh’s and ahh’s from visitors. You’ll also want to get a designer that has SEO experience. If you’ve got a great design but no SEO, we’re back at square one just like you would have been with a flash website.

Flash and SEO Together
I can hear the question now from some of you guys who are never satisfied with a good-enough solution. Why can’t I have both flash and SEO? First off, wipe your angry look off your face. It’s really hard to answer the question with so much pressure. Secondly, it CAN be done. It’s just more difficult (meaning, be prepared to spend more for a professional who knows what he’s doing). The solution is to use a flash and html fusion. Elements of your site can be flash enabled while other parts can be pure html. You’ve probably seen sites where there’s text below the main part of the site? There’s a good chance that the text is there for SEO reasons. There are also other ways of getting around the flash and SEO dilemma. Some sites have both a flash and html version (also nice for mobile devices that don’t support flash). The bottom line here is that it may be best to talk to a web designer who regularly works with websites that are built for both flash and SEO.

Your Website
What do you use for your website? Do you have any flash content? How has your SEO for your website been going?

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8 Responses to “Photography Flash Websites And SEO”

  1. Dana says:

    I also think that Flash and SEO can be together. What I think is that the site must be not purely a flash site, but there is a room for enough text (such as blog).

    • TJ says:

      Yea, I honestly haven’t seen too many flash sites combined with blogs. Do you have any examples for that? I’m kind of curious to see how those websites are set up.

      The key as you mentioned is just to have text included, and not just flash. Thanks for the visit!

  2. John E Adams says:

    Ran across this via google tracking related to my little guy studio management software offering – nice work and range of subjects TJ. On the Studio software I think you made a great choice as well – would be my preference among the selections you compared as well -;0)

    I ran a very flash intensive site for a while but changed to make it easier to manage the mess I create online – not seo related – dealing with 7,000 lines of XML got old after while! Here is a great way to deal with the mix of multi sites, flash and locations. A main landing page with the meta data an overview and then the package links:

    http://www.shootersimages.com/

    Cheers!

    John

    • TJ says:

      Thanks for the encouragement John! So what made you write your own studio management software? What kind of stuff does your software do that you couldn’t find in the market?

      Yea, that much XML can make your eyes cross looking at it =)

      Took a look some of your images – great job photographing some sweet rides man! I’m guessing you’re probably a bike or car guy yourself. It definitely seems like I can see your passion for the bikes and cars in your work. By the way, what do you use to process your HDR? Is that the Nik HDR plugin?

  3. John E Adams says:

    The prompt was a need to track limited edition prints, and a small amount of other sales and no budget! Once I got that in place had the bad idea of trying to add the most common features offered by competitors. I worked in the basics that a small/new studio would need – my target audience, there are thousands of them and offered it at a reasonable price. Now a year into it I decided to give up sleep and my not so spare time again and do a major upgrade to it. With the exception of limited edition tracking what it offers is found on most of the competitors offings, few offer inventory tracking however. The big difference is in my price range, at $59 I have packed a large percentage of the features offered for an average price of $1,388. The biggest difference you would notice is I do not have photo editing and hosted galleries built into it. You can track and add images to sales and invoices however.

    http://photostudiomanagement.com/home/images/Docs/PSM%20Comp%20Chart.pdf

    Thanks on the pics, I work full time and do this as a hobby – love shooting cars and bikes -;0) I don’t have Nik – a few others but my workhorse is Photomatix and then fine tunning in CS5.

    I should have looked at your site page first – I see you have a jump page similar to the one I posted.

    Cheers!

    John

    • TJ says:

      That’s awesome that you’re putting in the extra time to make a product that works for you. I considered putting in time and making my own until I ran across StudioCloud, which looks like it will pretty well fill our needs. Hope to see you around in future posts!

  4. John Rocha says:

    Hi there
    See you’ve redone your site. One aspect is advertisements as that’s something I think about a bit.
    As far as flash is concerned my pet hates are sites which are designed as showcases for the web designer’s skills and those sites which have no skip button and take ages to load.
    I think there’s a special point about photographers’ sites and that is that they should be a demonstration of good photography.

    Another problem of course is that with the coming of HTML5, flash may be on the way out.

    As far as SEO is concerned HTML is only better if there’s text to go with it. I’m still surprised at all the photos without alt tags for example.

    There’s another point and that is accessibility – photographers should make just as much effort to make their sites accessible as other webmasters.

    And you’re absolutely right again, the list goes on and on!

    • TJ says:

      I’m glad you brought up HTML 5. Apparently it’s supposed to have a lot more media rich options, right? The only thing that I would be concerned about is that it’s probably going to take browsers a while to implement this technology. Unless they’ve been planning ahead (which many of them may have been), the older versions of browsers won’t support the HTML 5 standard. In other words, I doubht IE7 supports it, so any IE7 users who want to view HTML 5 content would have to upgrade to the latest browser.

      That’s a good point about using html and it not being a guarantee of SEO. All html does is give you the ability to do SEO correctly. It’s not automatic.

      As far as accessibility, are you talking more about alt tags, making sure that the site is color-blind friendly, and that type of stuff? Or just user-friendly in general?

      Thanks John!