Google Again Refines its Flash Indexing!

Jul 16, 2008 | 1,531 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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At the very beginning of the month, I had informed our readers about Google's effort to enhance its Flash indexing technology. It was planning to develop 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.

Since then, Google Webmaster Central Blog, has updated its previous post and now according to Google, “Our focus is to improve search quality for all users, and with better Flash indexing we create more meaningful search results.” Here are some of the critical points made out by Google:

Helping us access and index your Flash files:

@fintan: We verified with Adobe that the textual content from legacy sites, such as those scripted with AS1 and AS2, can be indexed by our new algorithm.

@andrew, jonny m, erichazann, mike, ledge, stu, rex, blog, dis: For our July 1st launch, we didn't enable Flash indexing for Flash files embedded via SWFObject. We're now rolling out an update that enables support for common JavaScript techniques for embedding Flash, including SWFObject and SWFObject2.

@mike: At this time, content loaded dynamically from resource files is not indexed. We’ve noted this feature request from several webmasters — look for this in a near future update.

Indexing large Flash files:

@dsfdgsg: We’ve heard requests for deep linking (linking to specific content inside file) not just for Flash results, but also for other large documents and presentations. In the case of Flash, the ability to deep link will require additional functionality in Flash with which we integrate.

@All: The majority of the existing Flash files on the web are fine in regard to filesize. It shouldn’t be too much of a concern.

More details about our Flash indexing algorithm:

@brian, marcos, bharath: Regarding ActionScript, we’re able to find new links loaded through ActionScript. We explore Flash like a website visitor does, we do not decompile the SWF file. Unless you're making ActionScript visible to users, Google will not expose ActionScript code.

@dlocks: We respect rel="nofollow" wherever we encounter it in HTML.

Here is a preview as to how a Flash file would look like, after being indexed:

File without Flash Indexing:

111 Google Again Refines its Flash Indexing!

Flash site after improved flash indexing and querying:

221 Google Again Refines its Flash Indexing!

Over at the Webmaster World, a thread has surfaced that has been initiated over this latest Google revelation. Here are some of the posts from the Webmaster World thread:

“Google has expanded their indexing of SWF files for the second time in two weeks – Flash movies that are served via SWFObject are now in the mix!”

“Well, as I commented two weeks ago, I use SWFObject to serve alternate HTML content to user agents that are not flash enabled. So I certainly hope this change doesn't mean Google starts to ignore the actual HTML! I can't imagine that happening, at least not intentionally.”

“I still don't know why they want to index flash… maybe to crawl links… but to get text from it or content? That's silly. I think of flash like an image and it should be treated as such. You can put whatever you want in an image or flash file and marketing text may not be keyword rich or you may use funny tracking urls in flash etc.”

“Absolutely! You know, if I were a Search Engineer and had to list some of the primary areas I would focus on for "quality content", Flash would be in the top ten. I've come across 100% Flash sites that were full of great content, great design and just overall they were great! Those sites are "serving an audience" too, they could care less about the SEs, that is not their target audience. These are the types of sites where Direct Visitors and Referring Sites are the two major driving forces of traffic. Search Engines are an added plus to the mix. I agree, it does "sound" silly. But, if they can control the indexing aspect of this and prevent what typically occurs with stuff they index, then maybe it will work. I think we know the routine by now. There will be Ads served somewhere in this process, I guarantee it. That's the pattern these days. Flash is the next boon for Link Development. I've given those links my own name;Flanchors.”

“I have a client, who is fully into flash, just recently he shifted his fully flash site to semi flash site. I think even if Google can crawl the links from flash menu, it will be great.”

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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.
4.thumbnail Google Again Refines its Flash Indexing!
4.thumbnail Google Again Refines its Flash Indexing!