Google to start indexing textual flash content

Ian Hancock Search Engine Optimisation

Google today anounced on their Webmaster Central Blog that they have introduced a new algorythm to index Flash content. This could mean big changes within the SERPs as new and existing sites will expose additional content to Google. The files exposed are SWFs, which can be either ‘gadgets’ such as Flash buttons or Flash menus, or complete, self-contained Flash websites.

This means Google will be able to extract keyword information and URL’s from Flash content and discover more as it crawls your website. However, it falls short of Flash FLVs used in video such as YouTube as these files contain no textual content.

However, developers and stakeholders should be aware of a few issues around Google indexing Flash content.

  1. Currently any Flash loaded via dynamic client side scripting (Javascript) will not be seen.
  2. Flash content from external source will not be indexed i.e. HTML, XML or another SWF file. Google will index this seperately. This content will not be indexed as part of the flash file.
  3. Google is experiencing difficulties in indexing Flash content written in bidirectional languages. Currently, this translates to Hebrew and Arabic language content from Flash files.

My final thoughs are this: althought this is an exciting progression for Flash, will it make SERPs even more crowded? Only time will tell what impact this evolutionary step has on ranking. Of course, content embedded in Flash files will almost certainly challange ‘Black Hat’ SEO’s to massage rankings unethically. Watch this space for more developments…

There are (apparently) a few thing to be aware of. Google willl only read the text in a flash file (SWF)and not text that has been loaded in from an external source by the flash file. i.e. HTML, XML and external data from a database.