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Improved Flash Indexing Begins for Google

     
9:20 am on Jul 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It looks like Adobe has given Google and Yahoo some technology that will help them to better crawl and index Flash content - and Google has just launched their new Flash algorithm. Unfortunately, it's just for swf files, not flv.

Now that we've launched our Flash indexing algorithm, web designers can expect improved visibility of their published Flash content, and you can expect to see better search results and snippets.

Google Blog [googleblog.blogspot.com]

At present, we are only discovering and indexing textual content in Flash files. If your Flash files only include images, we will not recognize or index any text that may appear in those images. Similarly, we do not generate any anchor text for Flash buttons which target some URL, but which have no associated text.

Webmaster Central Blog [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com]

Still there's the problem of bookmarking the right spot in the flash movie. I'd hate to have to wade through a major Flash movie to find just the right spot to answer my search query. Will be interesting to see how this works out.

Also note - there's a parallel thread in our Flash Forum [webmasterworld.com].

9:56 am on July 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Further reading in the Webmaster Central blog (that's where the real meat seems to be) uncovers a lot of technical info. For one, this new Flash indexing does not apply to flv files. For another, if you use technology like SWFobject, the javascript may be a barrier to crawling the swf file.
5:09 pm on July 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Oh gaaaaawwwwwkkkkggggrrrrrrrrppphhhh! Please tell me we're not headed for millions of heavy, browser-busting, fancy-pantsy flash sites that do a song and dance before delivering every ... tiny ... piece ... of ... information ... re---ques---ted.

Revenge of the Designers, Episode II.

;-)

8:42 pm on July 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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According to the Adobe page [adobe.com] "Google is using the optimized Adobe Flash Player technology now, so users will immediately see improved search results".

I'd say results are mixed at best:

[google.com...]

Indexing (as text) html and other code that is extracted from flash executables? Yuck.

1:23 am on July 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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For the present, I'm very guarded about this idea. Some day the Flash results may be just peachy keen - especially if Adobe introduces technology that allows search engines to send clicks to some inner moment of the flash movie where the relevant content can be seen immediately.

But for now, it sounds to me like we may be in for trouble - just as we are seeing trouble from the "creative" spidering of forms with GET requests.

I'm considering whether to advise clients not to allow spidering of their swf files, at least for now. It may be prudent to wait and see how this plays out for a bit. It just gives me the heebie-jeebies.

4:13 pm on July 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Oh boy, here goes round two of what PageRankô was when first released. Text Links? Nah, I'll take an embedded Flash link any day! That's the next underground wave of link manipulation right there.

Its unfortunate because technology has made leaps and bounds beyond many in the Webmaster Community. You have to wonder just how many freakin' exploits this is going to open up. If we thought IE was a haven for all that crap, move over MS, here come Adobe and FlashTrash.

7:55 pm on July 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm curious if you have any more info on this Tedster? We are currently writing up white papers on SEO best practices and there is a conflict within the office that the <swfobject> may or may not block the Search Engines using this Technology from being able to read the content, dynamic or not.

Thanks for your input

L8r - Saxman

8:15 pm on July 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If you use swfobject, it appears that its javascript will block the swf file from being spidered - at least at present.

However, if you use swfobject in its fullest application, then you are serving alternate html content and that does get indexed. The proper application of swfobject serves html content by default, then uses javascript to test the user agent for flash capability. If flash capability is found, then the swfobject container <div> is overwritten via the DOM and changed to be the flash movie.

I much prefer that fullest scenario. I don't really want to see search traffic sent directly to an swf file, at least not until there is some kind of bookmarking available to get the traffic immediately to the correct frame of the movie.