An SEO Small Business Nightmare

On my travels home today after another long day of work, I kindly got a ride from a neighbor of mine. During the course of our conversation, she mentioned how she’s a small business owner with a catering company based here in Israel. When I said I do SEO, she said has a website, and might be interested in doing some advertising, but she has a very small budget. She gave me the name of the site, which of course I couldn’t remember, so after some searching on Google and Facebook, I finally found it. To my despair, I discovered that the the site was built completely in flash, and guess what, includes one, and only one, indexed page in Google.

This just bugs me – the complete lack of responsibility on the part of whoever designed her site for her. You don’t have to be an SEO ninja to know that building an entire website for a business with only one URL is not a very good practice from any perspective. This small business owner, whose budget is limited, probably spent a pretty penny for this flash monstrosity. Yes, it has cool, interactive effects that move and make noise. But how is anyone ever supposed to find it. There is absolutely no content on the site (if you can call it that) that is not included in Flash.

Once I saw this, I began to wonder if it even pays for me to follow up on this no-longer promising lead. For a client with a decent budget, I would normally advise:

  • Redoing the site not in Flash
  • Creating a non-flash alternative both for the engines and people visiting the site who don’t have Flash installed on their computer (did the designer, whose website is now defunct, ever hear of Apple, the iPod/iPhone/iPad, or my parents, who don’t know how to install Flash)
  • At the very least, adding regular html content and pages to the site.

But this client, who’s struggling just to keep their business afloat, doesn’t have the necessary funds to implement these changes. Is this the type of small business you would want to take on as a client? Helping real people keep their business afloat and profitable is one of the joys of doing SEO with small businesses, helping mom-and-pop businesses stay above water. But in a case like this, where my recommendations will entail basically trashing the site they have and starting from scratch, isn’t it better to not get involved and recommend other options, like focusing on Social Media, which demands time, energy, and engagement, but not a large investment of funds?

About Mark Ginsberg

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Mark has been working in Internet Marketing since 2007. He has managed campaigns in highly competitive sectors for large brands, but also loves to help small businesses increase their online visibility and better understand their customers and their needs.


  1. Looks like yummy stuff, can you post the link!

  2. Marc Levy says:

    Don’t despair MG! Whilst full flash websites are not recommended (by anyone other than Flash web designers) there are things you can do to improve things: although ultimately, I would recommend a nice HTML makeover.

    I believe is a good reference also, but currently seems to be offline.

    Nice blogging.

  3. Jerry Kraus says:

    Don’t go near it with a ten foot pole.

  4. Jerry, I wouldn’t go to that extreme. There must be something that can be done to help my neighbor.
    Thanks for the suggestions Marc. I’d suggest to her building a non-flash alternative that is cost-effective but presents the relevant data.

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