Flash and Splash Pages and SEO
Miss Blossom Design™ are frequently asked by many small businesses that are new to the web, to create a fancy splash page (typically a flash or an introduction graphic) as a gateway to the functional website. They are rapidly becoming outmoded, but Miss Blossom Design™ still get the requests.
Splash Pages Are Bad For Search Engine Optimisation
Search engines are looking for textual/copy content on your site and while a large, glamorous looking graphic might be pretty, a search engine can't tell this. If there is no text on the front page, people won't find it.
This is an SEO disaster. Splash pages and flash are lovely, especially if you are Chanel or Mercedes or a well known brand that does not depend upon SEO. The brand has already been established. But as a new or recently established brand or website and if SEO is important to you, then you should be aware of the risks and pitfalls.
Flash and the Issue Of Usability
Flash animation is especially detrimental for users and for SEO. If your visitor hasn't had flash players installed in their browser then, they can't see the content. Apple Mac also made a very significant decision with the introduction of iPads and iPhones that they wouldn't support flash. All users viewing with the mobile devices made by Mac get a blank page saying a flash player is needed.
Flash sites are also really hard for search engines to read the content. So again, the visitor can't find the site.
Imagine, your entire website is invisible to iPhones/iPads users as well as all search engines. Your site could be amazing but who cares if no one can find it. Fancy websites are fun to make and fun for the business owner, but not for the visitor.
If you want your pages to be usable by the widest audience, you should make them as lean as possible and avoid using flash. SEO Moss wrote about this in their suggestions for how to convince a client not to use a splash page:
"Think of a splash page like a stop sign. The client has already clicked to your site, they don't want to have to keep clicking. 25% of users will leave your site without going to the main page of your site. You don't need this page. It does not wow anyone, it just slows things down.
Internet visitors are impatient. They are looking for an opportunity to click that back button. "Click to enter" is redundant. It's like having a door that opens to another door that says enter. Visitors want to minimize the steps they have to take to get the information on your product or service."
SEO and Splash Pages
Splash pages are content light and graphics heavy. On the web, as far as SEO goes, "Content Is King". Search engines use the content to determine the theme and ranking of the site. And mainly on the first page. With a lovely graphic and only a few words you have just said "this website is empty" to the search engine.
Why Not Just Add Info to the Meta Data and Keywords? Some search engines (Google namely) have given up on utilising just meta data a while back, they might look at it, but if there is no content on the page it won't register.
Cheeky Tactics: Hiding Keywords on the Page
Some tactics used in the past such as having text the same colour as the background or tiny text so it is invisible to the visitor but not to search engines are underhanded tactics and search engines figure this out and might ban your site as a result. It's not worth the penalties.
Splash pages have a place with large companies that have an existing market and they are reinforcing an existing brand images. However, if you want people to come to your site via search engines, then kill your splash home page before it kills off the rest of your website.