Jul 2, 2008 113 reads by Navneet Kaushal

Via the official Google Blog, Google states that, it has been in the process of developing a new algorithm that would enable it to index textual content in Flash files of all kinds, from Flash menus, buttons and banners, to self-contained Flash websites. Now, Google has been able to improve Google's capabilities for Flash Indexing algorithm, by combining Adobe Player technology.

This step was taken due to the numerous requests received from Webmasters to improve Google's indexing of Adobe Flash files, as web designers faced considerable inconvenience, if they would wish to develop a website in Flash. Due to the non-availability of flash indexing most of the content that went into the website, never showed up on the web. This forced the developers to simplify methods to make their content visible to the search engines. These methods, although successful, greatly restricted creativity of the developers.

With the integration of the Flash indexing algorithm, web developers will now be able to witness better search results and improved visibility of the Flash content.

Over at the Google Webmaster Central Blog, Google has assimilated a post of 'Questions & Answers' or simply a FAQ in regards to its improved Flash Indexing. Some of the important points are:

Q: Which Flash files can Google better index now?

A: We've improved our ability to index textual content in SWF files of all kinds. This includes Flash "gadgets" such as buttons or menus, self-contained Flash websites, and everything in between.

Q: What content can Google better index from these Flash files?

A: All of the text that users can see as they interact with your Flash file. If your website contains Flash, the textual content in your Flash files can be used when Google generates a snippet for your website. Also, the words that appear in your Flash files can be used to match query terms in Google searches.

In addition to finding and indexing the textual content in Flash files, we're also discovering URLs that appear in Flash files, and feeding them into our crawling pipeline—just like we do with URLs that appear in non-Flash webpages. For example, if your Flash application contains links to pages inside your website, Google may now be better able to discover and crawl more of your website.

Q: What do I need to do to get Google to index the text in my Flash files?

A: Basically, you don't need to do anything. The improvements that we have made do not require any special action on the part of web designers or webmasters. If you have Flash content on your website, we will automatically begin to index it, up to the limits of our current technical ability (see next question).

That said, you should be aware that Google is now able to see the text that appears to visitors of your website. If you prefer Google to ignore your less informative content, such as a "copyright" or "loading" message, consider replacing the text within an image, which will make it effectively invisible to us.

Q: What are the current technical limitations of Google's ability to index Flash?

A: There are three main limitations at present, and we are already working on resolving them:

  1. Googlebot does not execute some types of JavaScript. So if your web page loads a Flash file via

    JavaScript, Google may not be aware of that Flash file, in which case it will not be indexed.

  2. We currently do not attach content from external resources that are loaded by your Flash files. If your Flash file loads an HTML file, an XML file, another SWF file, etc., Google will separately index that resource, but it will not yet be considered to be part of the content in your Flash file.
  3. While we are able to index Flash in almost all of the languages found on the web, currently there are difficulties with Flash content written in bidirectional languages. Until this is fixed, we will be unable to index Hebrew language or Arabic language content from Flash files.

Google's Matt Cutts via his Blog has greatly appreciated Adobe for its plug-in mechanisms. According to Matt, “I’m a fan of this change, and I’m a fan of Adobe in general. They get a lot of credit in my book for opening up the specifications for PostScript, Adobe’s font standards, and their Acrobat/PDF format. Very few companies have been able to open up their specs and still compete successfully against powerful opponents. I respect Adobe for that — not to mention providing one of the first widely-known “plug-in” mechanisms (in Photoshop). The idea of a plugin or extension has greatly affected how people view software from Firefox to WordPress. I’m glad that this most recent change by Adobe will make it easier for search engines to index content in Flash files.”

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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