No Indexing Guarantee From Google Flash Crawls

    July 17, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

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.