Flash: Poison Candy or Googlebot Food?

Posted in Google, Web Design

Google

Our clients ask us about Flash all the time. For years Flash has been the stuff of web design joy and pain, causing frustration for search marketing folks. Those who design and brand absolutely love Flash’s web 2.0 animation, video, and rich media feel. 

SEM types traditionally have avoided Flash for critical organic optimization applications. The technology’s quirky propensity to be indexed (or not by) search engines has led to creative back door methods, sparking dialog and discourse as to whether certain techniques are evil cloaking tactics.

Matt Cutts has now revealed that Google has been quietly working with Adobe Systems’ Search Engine SDK technology to “read” Flash, which is an evolution from the “homebrewed” extraction method previously employed.

This may spawn a new era of cautiously optimistic Flash usage by search marketing pros who may become more amenable to using optimized Flash files. Stephan Spencer has posted a nice analysis of the Flash indexing situation in his CNET Searchlight blog and links out to additional resources

  • Chris Dohman

    Thanks for pointing this out Marty. Sorry though, I sphunn Stephen’s CNET post, figured I should go with the source.

    It will be interesting to see how the indexing develops on this one.

    Thanks again.
    Chris

  • Marty Weintraub

    Great… hoped this would not be Sphunn. I FOUND Stephan’s post on Sphinn and wanted our clients to know.

  • michael streko

    I personally do not enjoy dancing the fine gray line of cloaking with flash. I have a client whose website is really 90% flash – so I have no choice but to use the noscript tags and actually type out what eash flash says.

    Within the last 2 months i have noticed that the flashes are getting indexed, but only the title of the flash file and some of the basic text. I guess its going to be a matter of making sure your flash is “dumbed down” for the search engines in order to get them fully indexed…

  • Chris Dohman

    For the Sphinning folks out there, here’s where you can Sphinn the CNET article: http://sphinn.com/story/22159

    cheers marty!

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Michael: Thanks for the insightful comment.
    @ Chris: Thanks…and I saw one other related Sphinn thread you can hunt down.

  • Chris Dohman

    Found it Marty, thanks for the tip. ;)

  • Meshach

    Thanks for the info, Marty. It’s been interesting revisiting this question after all these years. (I started my first full Flash sites in 1998 with V.3) I am guessing this will open up a pretty big business for some smart people. Once a few sharp people do some testing it will be a new frontier, I imagine.

    -M

  • Meshach

    Actually, I am guessing that people will have to go back to the old ways of creating text in a Flash file, directly onto the stage, to be sure of it’s significance but that may be too obvious. All this newer placement of Flash® text, using variables, XML, etc… may be slicker but, I imagine, not good for the relevancy.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @ Meshach: Thanks for the insight and welcome to aimClearBlog. We appreciate your input.

  • SlightlyShadySEO

    I will point out that this is especially interesting because it’s the first time we have access to the same parsing tools as the big G.
    We know what can get pulled, and what can’t, with what reliability(via the API).
    I also really do have to wonder about the potential for cloaking here(for naughty SEOs); has this been fully integrated into the algo? Is it compared?
    Hmmm.
    I shall find out.