Visual Effects and SEO

As earlier discussed, search engines are not capable to directly index, images, sounds, javascript or flash movies and they depend on your provided textual description to index these files. It is somehow similar to the history of the text, when you placed a description in the metatag for search engines to use and to index your webpage. With the current technological advancement and improvement, it is very like some day search engines to be able of indexing images, sounds, movies and so on, although in the present that is nothing but a dream.


Images are very important to any web site and they are never seen by a website designer as an extra but as a must have thing for every page. In this case, web designers and search engines are playing in two different teams, because for search engines any tiny information that is hidden in an image is lot and unusable. Now and then as you are working with web designers you might face certain difficulties explaining them that the use of textual links – with appropriate anchor text – instead of fancy images is not a simple caprice, and that it is compulsory to have clear text navigation on the site. Sometimes it is not easy properly balancing the beauty of a site with the SEO-friendliness of it, but when even the most artistic and charming site is lost forever and totally useless if it is not spotted by search engines, a compromise is most certainly needed.

You most certainly do not have to skip all images, as the result will be a rather ugly website. The point is that images should serve for decoration purposes, not for navigation or for text display. It is essential to provide an expressive textual description of the image in the <alt> element of the <img>tag. This action is needed from the search engines point of view and not of the HTML language. It is also advisable to provide expressive names to the image files and not just simply name them with numbers. For example, in the following example the image file name is already informative, but the <alt> gives further information: <img src=”classical_Corvette_for_sale” alt=”A picture of a classic car a Corvette that is up for sale”>. In any case, don’t exaggerate and start writing 20-30 words <alt>tags for a small insignificant image, as it will not look good.

Animation and Movies

With animation and movies it is basically the same as with the images, they worth a lot for web designer but are worthless for search engines. I am sure that you have seen for many sites to have an imposing Flash introduction on their homepage. That is a huge disadvantage in front of search engines as it will badly hurt your ranking. Further more, it is a complete disaster if you choose a Flash to tell a story instead of writing it down in plain text, which search engine spiders can crawl and index. One of the solutions is to supply search engines a HTML version of the Flash animation, but in such case remove the initial Flash animation from indexing – action performed in the robots.txt file – to avoid being penalized for duplicate content.

Allegedly, Google is working on a new search technology that will enable searching within animations and movies while the .swf format will include metadata for search engines to use. However, in the mean time, avoid using much Flash or try to give proper textual description of the animation, using an <alt>tag for the description.


It is good that frames are gradually disappearing from the web. Not so long ago, five or ten years ago were quite a hit among web designers. On the other hand, search engines never liked them, as they are experiencing difficulties in indexing framed pages due to the fact that the URL of the page is identical, regardless which frames are open. It was very confusing for search engines, because in fact there were 2 or 3 pages but only one URL, while for any search engine one URL is one page. Nevertheless, search engines are able to follow the links to pages in the frameset and also index them but it is difficult for them.

If you are still determined to use frames provide at least an expressive description of the site in the <noframes> tag. The next example is for experts, but even if you are a beginner, just remember that the <noframes> tag is where to give a version – or brief description – of your site for search engines and for browsers not supporting frames.

Example: <noframes><p>For best results it is recommended to use a browser that support frames. </p><p>This is a site mostly for potential cat adopters! Adopting a cat is a good deed as you will be saving the life of an innocent animal. </p> </noframes>.


It is well known that with simple HTML it is not possible to make sophisticated web sites with lots of functionalities as it is demanded by current users of the Internet. That is reason why various other programming languages, such as PHP or JavaScript, are here to improve HTML. Currently, search engines simply disregard all encountered JavaScript on a page. Thus, if your have links within the JavaScript code, they might not be picked up by spiders. Furthermore, if JavaScript is in the HTML file, it will mess up the html file and it is possible for the spiders to totally ignore it and move on to the next site. To avoid such things, there is a <noscript>tag where you can supply an alternative to running the script in the web browser. As its applications are quite complex, this is not the most suitable place to explain it.


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