Google Gets Friendly with Flash Content

Flash website developers can breathe a sigh of relief this morning – a collaboration between Adobe, Google and Yahoo! will make it easier for the two search engines to index Flash files (SWF).

Until now, search engine web crawlers have had lots of trouble accurately indexing text and links that appear in Flash files. For years this roadblock has been the cause of many headaches for web designers, website owners and online marketers alike. (Not to mention searchers who may be missing out on valuable content.) But the bottle of ibuprofen may be going back in the medicine cabinet.

Last night Google announced that it has launched its new Flash indexing algorithm. The new algorithm is a result of the Adobe collaboration.

Can Google now index every item in a Flash file? No. But it can index the useful parts.

According to Google software engineers Ron Adler and Janis Stipins:

Google can index text content within Flash

1) This Flash text can be used for the snippet that appears beneath your link in Google search results.

2) Flash text will be used to compare with keywords used in Google searches.

3) Indexable Flash content includes text within Flash buttons and menus.

Google can index links with Flash

1) Links within Flash files can be followed by Google’s web crawler.

Google cannot index non-textual Flash content

1) Google can’t index images within Flash files.

2) Google can’t index text that appears in Flash-based images.

3) Google will not generate anchor text for non-text, Flash-based links.

This is all good news for content developers and web searchers. But as Vanessa Fox at Search Engine Land points out, Flash developers should still spend time on search engine optimization:

As Danny Sullivan noted last year when word of Google’s work in this area first came up, most Flash content isn’t made up of primarily words. It’s made up of images, video, and animation, and none of that will be surfaced in search results with this advancement. Google’s new Flash algorithms extract text and links only. Everything else is still a black box.

At the time of this posting, there has been no information released from Yahoo! in regards to when (or if) it will implement a similar Flash indexing algorithm.

More Information:

Improved Flash indexing – Google Webmaster Central Blog