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Google now indexing flash?



5:45 pm on Apr 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Continued from:

just saw a serp with an indexed flash page, can't still believe my eyes. At least [flash] is shown at the result.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 9:14 pm (utc) on April 28, 2004]


5:59 am on May 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member powdork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I don't think your view could change on this one. If you are searching for .swf, you are hoping to find flash files. Google has them, Y! does not. If you don't want to find .swf files, you're probably not going to be searching for .swf.

Right now, Google has something Y! doesn't. Flash files are not (at this point) winning any important searches, so it's not hurting anyone. But then again, we're getting a bit overdue for one of those "algo change, disappearing site, then fold in new data, more than weeks, less than months" kind of updates.;)

Patrick Taylor

10:36 am on May 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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This thread reminds me of when my father used to say that Elvis and the Beatles polluted the air waves - he enjoyed (and I'm pleased to say, still enjoys) "good old classical". Broadcasters solved the problem by having different channels. For some people, Google gives access to the World Wide Web "library" of written information - I'm one of those - but I know other people are looking more for a "user experience" along with their favourite information. I welcome anything Google can do to "channelise" (sorry about all the speechmarks) websites like broadcasters do with their content. I've argued before now that billions of websites reduced to a top-of-the-pops listing is a pretty nonsensical presentation concept anyway. I call that bad design. One thing I do agree with BigDave about is the need for the clearest possible choices.


1:17 pm on May 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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To me, this is obviously one of those issues where both sides have some merit.

In the run up to the big IPO, Google has been going crazy with adding gazillions of new pages to their index... most of which are utterly useless.

On the other hand, many valid sites are being done using new "non-HTML" formats. (Actually, I should call them "modified HTML") like Flash or Moveable Type, Scoop and the like.

Gawd, this is one of those times when I HATE the TOS prohibition on citing examples... oh well.


4:33 pm on May 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

This could cause search engine spam too, you know ...

What would stop me from making a Flash document with pages and pages of keywords (or even just a few ... whatever it takes to optimize, you know what I mean). This text could appear inside a logo or some obscure flash image with a timer that displays the first frame for 9999999 seconds, etc.

In other words ... text is in Flash doc and indexable, but you would NEVER see it on the page - you would just see a picture. Just wait, if people aren't doing this exact thing to boost their position they will be.


4:44 pm on May 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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As Flash is an open file format, it probably wouldn't be too difficult to auto generate tens of thousands of swf files with a good script.


6:01 pm on May 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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What would stop me from making a Flash document with pages and pages of keywords

It is already no problem to do keyword stuffing and hidden text in PDFs without ever risking any penalty.
No, I do not do this


7:02 pm on May 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm not really a fan of PDF either, but at least when I'm searching Google if a PDF file has been indexed, I am linking DIRECTLY to that PDF file, not a page that calls the PDF. So if someone wanted to keyword-spam by PDF all they would do is generate a bunch of traffic to the PDF itself, not to their website.

Flash indexing doesn't send the user right to the .swf file, it sends them to the PAGE that calls it. So one could easily create keyword-intensive SWF's for the purpose of ranking, but those words never appear on the page. I mean, it's almost like going back to META tags in a way. Just type whatever you want in the meta tags and get traffic from it, even if it has nothing to do with your site. The fact that Google doesn't give any credit to what's in the meta tags is what makes them better than everyone else.

Indexing flash files is taking a step BACKWARD, it will be used for SPAM more than for legitimate purposes. I would HATE the web if Flash was in the majority - everything would be like watching one big friggin commercial and that sucks :p


3:30 am on May 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Flash is great for goofy entertainment. Search for All Your Base Are Belong To Us.


6:42 am on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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This thread reminds me of when my father used to say that Elvis and the Beatles polluted the air waves

Couldn't agree more.

Yes there will be issues with the incorporation of Flash into SERPS, such as ensuring tricks such as foreshadowed by DigitalAV don't unfairly discriminate in favor of spammy .swf files over good quality HTML.

But ultimately the arguments being presented here seem to be running along the lines of "Fear the new tech. It is evil."

This isn't the industrial revolution folks and flash is hardly synonymous with those 'dark satanic mills'.

Many seem to be putting bad flash sites down because they are flash sites not because they are bad.

One client I deal with has a flash site (which incidently drives me nuts trying to get it ranked for the very reason it is flash) but the actual content is excellent. There are few sites more authorative on pink widgets than this site.

If Google could read the text contained within this site and it appeared in top spot under pink widgets not a single person could be upset with clicking that link because it would take them to the site which probably has the best pink widget info on the web.

The simple fact someone writes a letter to you on a typewriter instead of pen and paper does not change the meaning of the message.

The more a person can interact with a website the better, it makes the audience a part of the experience so flash in of itself is simply an enabling technology and should be viewed as such.

From a SE perspective folks like Google, Y!, etc need to ensure that IF they incorporate flash files into results that they can do so without sacrificing relevance. Until that can be done they should hold back.

The problem with many of the responses in this thread it that it would appear that particular issue is not what people are aiming their ire at. Rather its pro-HTML anti-Flash elitism.

No, none of my personal sites use flash nor will they until broadband internet is much more common in my country and technology has evolved to the extent that SEs can legitimately 'read' flash.

Patrick Taylor

2:25 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

As a little fun experiment, when this thread was running I built a simple Flash file containing some nonsense keywords and placed it and nothing else on a web page, then linked to the page from one of my sites - not using those keywords in the link text.

Now, on a Google search for the nonsense phrase, Google found the text inside the Flash file.


5:00 pm on May 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Patrick - where did you put the keywords/text? I'm not a flash programmer so this may be obvious. Was it in the links within the file?

Patrick Taylor

3:20 am on May 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Not links - just ordinary text. Actually I included the words in a plain fashion, and also put them in amongst html too, just to see what happened. By "amongst html" I mean I wrote some html using text in the file - to mimic real html - in case Google liked it, and it's actually this "html" (plus the keywords) which is shown as the snippet in SERPS. The Flash file was returned, not the page itself - I suppose the test might be worth developing a little.
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