First of all, I want to clarify that when I say that Flash is obsolete, I don’t mean that it is becoming obsolete or that, in the near future, it will be supplanted by some new technology and will slowly phase out and be obsolete. I mean that it is already obsolete, and was obsolete long before the advent of HTML5. Stiff claim, right? Let me explain.
Flash Is Not SEO-Friendly in an SEO World
This, really, pretty much sums up my entire point. With Flash, what a web designer must always do is consider the benefits of having a pretty layout against one which has a layout that can be crawled. Some contend that the solution to this is to have an HTML sitemap at the bottom of your Flash pages that keeps the crawler moving through your website. However, with the complexities of Google’s algorithm, many SEOs, us included, are not confident that this will have an identical impact as an HTML-based website. Perhaps we are wrong, and that Google has a specific algorithmic loophole that accounts for Flash websites, but with what we know about Google, our professional opinion is that this is highly unlikely.
HTML5 Is Poised to Replace Flash
Of course, even if we take away the SEO impact, you don’t have to go far to find people claiming that Flash is either obsolete or on its way to becoming obsolete. These people point to the new HTML5 as the reason that Flash will soon be disappearing, and this is not wholly unfounded. With Adobe having given up on Flash for mobile devices, and with mobile web traffic poised to exceed PC traffic by 2014, there is reason to believe Adobe will soon give up on Flash altogether.
While this isn’t to say that Flash has no utility anymore, I would encourage those seeking to improve their search rankings to take a hard look at what Flash is being used for on their website. If you have Flash navigation, you may be hurting your rankings. If that is the case, switching to HTML5 may provide a boost, but it may be even better to switch to standard HTML formatting. SEOs don’t really know yet what Google will do with the Flash-like features of HTML5.