Flash gets some Search Engine Love

Adobe Flash (previously Macromedia Flash) has long been a stealth containment of information, hiding its information from search engines.  The ever important need for your site’s content, including your all important keywords/keyphrases, to be properly indexed by the search engines has left flash web sites in the dark.  I’ve personally stayed away from using flash in web sites for anything more than non-content related interaction areas or animated galleries, slideshows, floorplan navigations, etc; basically anything not including copy or anything important to search bots.

So yesterday Adobe and Google announced that Google, and soon Yahoo (after they “work some bugs out”), will be improving their indexing of Flash files.  This won’t solve all the problems with Flash content showing up on search engines and it’s not the complete and total package but it’s a great step in the right direction for Adobe Flash and their users.

So what’s going to be indexed?

All “textual content” in Flash files.  It’s not everything, including images and any descriptive text that those would contain, but will at least start to index your keywords and phrases.

What’s not going to be indexed?

I’m not a Flash expert by any means so I’m not real sure how Flash files are built but if you include your text in that initial movie, you’re okay, but if you pull data from XML files or another .html file Google currently won’t include those.  Also if you include your SWF file by way of certain Javascripting, Googlebot may or may not recognize that.  They didn’t get specific on that part but if you read into Googlebot’s javascript ability I’m sure you’ll figure it out.  (Give it a little more time and I bet Google figures that stuff out though.)

So now what?

I’m in no rush to start developing things in Flash just because of this news but it is good to know that Adobe is working on getting this done.  I still have my qualms about Flash and the way most web sites use it, its accessibility issues, and the problems of users having older versions and having to update, etc.

I still say web site content and its navigation should not reside within a flash file and should be semantically marked up for the best search results and best accessibility.  This news also worries me that the people making those crappy flash sites will only use this news to justify their bad sites/code are just that much better.  Fail.

Read the news from Google and from Adobe for source information and some more details.

EDIT: (19 July 2008) – Google has rolled out an “update that enables support for common JavaScript techniques for embedding Flash, including SWFObject and SWFObject2”.  So one of the first issues with their news they’ve already fixed.


One Response to “Flash gets some Search Engine Love”

  1. On 1st Jul 2008 at 14:14, Charlene said:

    It’s good to know that they are making moves to include Flash. But I agree with you, content and navigation should not included in Flash.

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