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No Indexing Guarantee From Google Flash Crawls

Crawlers may miss things inside SWF

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Just because Google says they pry out the text content from Flash files and make them searchable may mean less than webmasters think.

Flash represented a surefire way to keep content out of search engines. The algorithms that could chew through massive text files without a hiccup hit a brick wall when it came to the rich media content of a Flash file.

Google became the first engine to enable its crawler to peek inside Flash files and pull out indexable content; Yahoo should offer this at some future date. SEOmoz maven Rand Fishkin said it’s too soon to get excited about Google indexing Flash.

“Flash content is fundamentally different from HTML on webpage URLs, and being able to parse links in the Flash code and text snippets does not make Flash search-engine friendly,” said Fishkin. “But I don’t believe web developers should be any less wary than they’ve been in the past about Flash-based websites or Flash-embedded content.”

Out of several reasons Fishkin listed for keeping a wary eye on Flash indexing, one stood out. “There’s no ‘test my site’s Flash file crawlability’ feature that I’m aware of, leaving us very much in the dark about exactly how the engine’s going to parse your material,” he said.

One should hope that Google will work on such a feature, and add it to their Webmaster Central toolset. If Google demonstrates to webmasters what the crawler sees, that would be a boon for Flash’s owner Adobe.

Webmasters who avoid Flash for SEO purposes now may rethink its use with a reliable method of finding out how well Google indexes a Flash file. That would lead to more sales of Adobe’s developer tools, something we think they want to see.

No Indexing Guarantee From Google Flash Crawls
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  • http://www.schmoozii.com business networking

    I wouldn’t trust it.  I had javascript on my landing page and they had a difficult time reading that and yahoo and msn wouldn’t read it at all.  Once I removed that they indexed very quickly.  Putting flash seems like you are asking for problems.

  • http://www.justbuygreen.com Green

    I would jump the gun and say Flash is now ok in googles eyes.  Nothing is crawlable like good old text.

  • http://www.seocompatibledesign.com Ryan

    Personally, I will always make html and php websites over full flash websites because flash will never be as SEO compatible as html.  Now that SEO has become such a booming industry, you really need to take advantage of every SEO tactic that you can in order to stay ahead of your competition.

    With that being said, I still am glad that they are at least making progress on making flash content readable.  Flash has never been very SEO compatible at all but at least it is starting to head that way.  It may not be advantageous to make full flash websites but at least now you can create cool animated flash menus to drop into your html site and Google and Yahoo will be able to follow the links.  The only sacrifice you make is possible extended loading time and a few extra lines of code; for some websites, I’m OK with that.

  • http://domainforensic.net challenge

    I think it is currently a wait-see-and-test situation , it appears way too early to expect a lot from this process, google started crawling forms too, a few months ago, no much has come of that so far .

  • http://www.paraibainternational.com Tanzanite

    I think the indexing ability of Google to be able to pull out that information in an accurate way, without being succeptible to spam techniques, will dictate how quickly webmasters and business decide to move in the direction of offering move flash again.

  • http://www.rankbetterseo.com/questions/ seo questions

    I am very curious to see how this is going to play out. I think it might end up backfiring in the long run for both google and flash sites.

  • http://seo.pittwebsite.com Pittsburgh SEO

    I’ve had flash sites before that have some text on the page as well for non-flash browsers and such. And sometimes just few paragraphs after the main flash on the page. These have all worked out well in the search engines in the past for me. I think you still need to have some text on the page in order to give Google and the other engines something to think with but I think Google is getting very close to wrapping up the flash indexing stuff.

    Adobe offers a downloadable tool that you can see the content that can be extracted which is the same tool Google is using for extracting text/html from flash. I’ve used the tool to take a peak at what some of my flash sites look like and it’s pretty useful.

  • http://www.seovisions.com SEO Company

    The days of Google not being able to index multi media should have been over years ago. With the technology they have and massive arsenal of funds, it is difficult to believe that they themselves could not have put together a new format of multimedia that is indexable.

  • http://www.a-pro-clean.com Kyle

    I learned about flash the hard
    way

  • http://www.a-pro-clean.com Kyle

    Great content from this page. Wow

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