A lot of people I’ve run into almost always wonder if they should put up videos, or flash content on their site to better engage their viewers? The answer to the question always is, it depends on what the focus of the video is? How do they plan to host said video? and the what type of interactive content do they have in mind. The more unfortunate follow up answers are usually along the lines of an introduction video about themselves, they were thinking of hosting it on their sites and using some type of flash object or program that they have had for a long time.
Now those answers are not necessarily bad per-say but they flash part does make my cringe a little. Wanting to use a video in your website is a great idea, but it all depends on what the focus of the video is. But the fact that they want to host video themselves usually also means that they want to use flash video, which makes me cringe even more.
The reason for this is flash is dead/dying. Videos are no longer encoded using flash players any more and even the old (and loved) flash websites are going the way of the dinosaurs. Mobile devices are becoming more and more haters of flash. Ever since its conception, iOS (iPhones, iPads, iPod touches) never supported flash and indeed never will. Android which had support for flash at the beginning, has stopped / lost support for it as of Android 4.1 (Jelly bean). That means that your awesome flash content is not accessible to 30% of web traffic, and that number is only going to rise.
It also goes without saying that flash content does not, and can not help you in your SEO attempts. This due to the fact that search engines cannot read into the content that the flash holds thus not helping you at all, however there is now another factor that will start to make it even more detrimental to your websites SEO. Google has recently announced that they will now start to inform mobile users if your website pages rely heavily on flash. You can start to say goodbye to any visitors who may have stumbled onto your site, only to leave due to your flash use. Google is taking the lead by warning them about your flash BEFORE they even count as a statistic on your site. So now you will face two penalties, one that goes against your rankings directly, the other affecting your website page views which ALSO affect your rankings.
Another big request by people is to have videos on their homepage, or throughout their site for people to watch. While yes you can do this, doesn’t mean that you always should. Most clients want to host their videos themselves, and those videos will do nothing to very little for SEO. If you are using self-hosted flash videos all throughout your site, then you may find all your hard work has earned you penalties from Google or other search engines, that it actually is doing more bad than good. What a lot of people do in videos is explain content that they could better use by putting onto a page. Good scripts are created that explain or go into details about information that would be suited for using as page content and having it count towards SEO, search engines cannot hear what your video is saying so all of it gets ignored.
There also is the human aspect towards videos that will affect even their overall usefulness or appeal. Mobile users may skip over the video due to the fact it breaks the flow of what they may be looking at or reading on your site. Now a days videos will open to full screen on mobile devices, so the users cannot just listen to your video while scanning your site, they are in fact stuck watching AND listening to the video. Videos should be used for demonstration purposes, not just scripts that can replace text. If you have how to videos, or demonstrations, things that cannot be properly shown in text or photos by all means use video, but use a third party host, such as YouTube or Vimeo. These hosts will encode your video to not rely on flash play back and open up your video to mobile traffic as well. Plus they become more shareable on social networks and can even provide traffic from YouTube or Vimeo back to your site if you add your URL to your video’s description.
Keep this information in mind when you think of adding more content to your site. It may not always be useful for you, and may even affect your SEO in either a positive way or a negative way.