Back at the beginning of June Google added the option to skip intro pages on Flash Icon websites by adding a nav option to the end of the page title, thus skipintro1

In line with their mission to bring people the most relevant content it seems like a good idea as there is very rarely any information contained on these splash pages and most seem to consist of an elaborate video as you watch the pieces of the site fall into place before you can get at the content.

However is this one time that Google is playing catch-up and is it just for Flash sites or other splash pages that it’s trying to get rid of?

Intro pages generally started to lose favour after the publishing of Jacob Nielsen’s article that Flash was “99% Bad” in late 2000, not long after Google started to pick up some steam. The report itself is generally inaccurate these days (and indeed some was then) but it did get designers starting to think about what they were doing with Flash. From that point on less and less sites used a splash page and current Flash websites have mostly be redesigned to get rid of them.

However some do still exist and I certainly think that skipping them is a great option, especially if I’ve been to the page before. This would have been better 5 years ago, but thanks anyway Google.

There are different types of intro pages though and currently Google does not seem to offer the option to skip them all, but it’s unclear how they select the ones who do. There currently doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Google will allow users to skip intros that don’t have a ‘skip intro’ link on them, however not all Flash sites that do seem to be given that link either. Could it be tracking which intros users aren’t watching and offering the option on those sites only?

There’s also some evidence that sites which aren’t pure Flash have the [skip intro] option on them. Sites such as KaraokeMusicServices.com (I was at K-box at the weekend :D) are, in this instance, a parked page with a Flash intro inserted as an object. In this case there is a also a skip option, but that can’t be the only deciding factor.

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The intro is inserted by using object tags.

Some sites actually present the users with an advert as a splash page, such as the NYTimes and The Onion. Both of these sites give the user the option to skip the ad, however Google doesn’t give the user the option to go directly to the content from the search results. How does it differentiate the pages?

My initial thoughts are that Googlebot looks for an isolated ‘Skip Intro’ text link next to a Flash object file and that the ‘Skip Intro’ can also, obviously, be in other languages such as the French ‘Passer l’introduction’.

The question then becomes that if Google hates splash pages will it eventually eliminate all results that don’t take the user directly to what they want and how will this effect revenue on sites like these?

A bit more research is required before a conclusive result can be drawn.

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