E-Marketing in Minneapolis David Vinge, eMarketing Dashboard : Google Expands Flash Indexing Capabilities

Monday, June 22, 2009

Google Expands Flash Indexing Capabilities

In June, Google added external resource loading to their Flash indexing capabilities. This means that when a SWF file loads content from an external file this content can be indexed as well.  These files could be text, HTML, XML or even another SWF. All will be associated with the document that embed it.

As with any search result the content will need to be relevant to the users' queries.

While not all search engines index Flash files, Google has increased their capabilities considerably. According to Google, for SWF files they can:
  • Index textual content displayed as a user interacts with the file. We click buttons and enter input, just like a user would.
  • Discover links within Flash files.
  • Load external resources and associate the content with the parent file.
  • Support common JavaScript techniques for embedding Flash, such as SWFObject and SWFObject2.
A recent notable change is that they can index sites scripted with AS1, AS2 and now AS3 - even if the ActionScript is obfuscated. 

Note that not every Flash developer knows how to create accessible Flash. Many do not include alternative content for visitors without Flash enabled.  If you don't know what you're doing then avoid using Flash for critical information including navigation - it will hurt your SEO.

Also note that in the past you could hide content from the search engines by using Flash. Now if you want to hide content in a SWF file or any of the associated external resources you should use the appropriate robots.txt directive.

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