Google Can Index “Almost Any Text” In A Flash (SWF) File

The Google Webmaster Central Blog posted an update on their Flash indexing capabilities. Google said, as of today, they are able to index and understand “almost any text a user can see as they interact with a SWF file on your site.”

Typically, Flash has been one of those big No-Nos in the SEO space. I still do not believe any SEO would recommend anyone to build out a site completely built in Flash. However, there are many Flash sites out there that are not concerned with being indexed, either intentionally or not intentionally, but Google wants to index them.

Google has been working with Adobe to continually better index Flash content. In 2008, Google made stride in indexing Flash content and improved on that last year as well. Now, Google is able to index almost all the text and links within a Flash file.

In addition, Google said they can index the latest compatible content for Flash Player 10.1 and they are better at understanding JavaScript to embed SWF content. Finally, Google is also better at detecting and extracting meta data from Flash video files, metadata such as alternate thumbnails.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | SEO: Flash | Top News

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • lyndseo

    So they can do text and meta data – can they follow links too? That’s a huge one.

  • http://www.tcampbell.net T Campbell

    Ha! Just in time for Flash to stop mattering!

  • http://www.search-usability.com/ Shari Thurow

    Hi all-

    Flash will alway continue to “matter” if it’s not implemented appropriately, regardless of its crawlability and indexation issues.

    Google being able to access and index Flash content is a bigger concern for me from a usability perspective. Flash is often misused. I think Flash implementation is more of a usability issue than an SEO issue. If users/searchers can complete their desired tasks more easily, efficiently, etc. with Flash, then I will implement it on a website.

    Google has been able to crawl Flash links for years. As for Flash content? We will have to wait and see how well Google does in the forthcoming months/years. I’m sure we will all keep monitoring.

    jquery has been a better option for me in certain cases.

    –Shari

  • http://www.danmozgai.com/ Dan Mozgai

    When Google indexed Flash, in the past, it treated the SWF file and the content contained therein as a unique document, not part of the page it is embedded in. Google needs to attribute the content and links contained in to SWF to the HTML document it is embedded in for this to be of any value. I wonder if they’ll do that now.

    I also wonder what it would be like if a page ranked for a phrase buried deep in the UI of a Flash movie. The searcher clicks on the SERP result, but doesn’t see something that reflects their search, and is instantly disappointed.

    There’s also a spam potential here. Load up the Flash with keywords for Mustangs and Corvettes, but show and advert for Viagra.

    I’m noticing that Flash doesn’t show up in the new page previews in Google. I’m seeing vast empty rectangles on Flash heavy pages.

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