View Full Version : Google now reading text in Flash ?

Harold Mansfield
09-23-2009, 04:50 PM
I read imedia connection almost everyday. It's one of the few e-zines that I get, that I always check to see what they are talking about.

Today there was an article about flash no longer being invisible to SE's and I was interested in the opinions from the developers and designers around here:

Article Highlights:
* Search engines couldn't access Flash content for indexing because their bots couldn't read the content inside Flash's SWF files
* Now, the textual content in your Flash files can be used when Google generates a snippet for your website
* If your web page loads a Flash file via JavaScript, Google may not be aware of that Flash file
How Google put the Flash back in search - iMediaConnection.com (http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/24523.asp)

09-23-2009, 06:08 PM
In about 2003 I wrote a couple of pages on a site. Nothing special. They were product pages. Big picture, h1, h2 and three bullet items of text. No inbound links.

The manufacturer put up a flash site.

The pages I wrote have always come up 1 in G. The manufacturers site only appeared for the exact url.

I just did a search. The pages I wrote still are 1. A pdf on the manufacturers site is 2. Under that pdf indented is the manufacturers site flash index page. Google did display text from that page that is in Flash

If this is a good example (no idea if its common or not), G could read the pdf. Couldn't read the flash very well, but put up the index page for the flash site because it was part of the pdf site. Since G did read some of the Flash text, it would seem that they are improving. It would certainly seem that G likes html better as my lousy html pages still rank one.

Also, any tags in html that google may put weight on such as heading tags etc don't appear to be available in Flash. It's going to be easier to weed out what is important on a html through tags. With Flash, I suspect the text is just a wad of text. Just an opinion, nothing to really base that on.

09-23-2009, 08:47 PM
Seems like every so often the last few years someone talks about how Google can now index text in Flash. At this point I'll believe it when I start seeing more Flash sites ranking for their content. A few points I pulled from the article

At present, Google can only discover and index textual content in Flash files. If your Flash files only include images, it will not recognize or index any text that may appear in those images.

Similarly, Google does not generate any anchor text for Flash buttons that target some URLs but have no associated text.

Google does not attach content from external resources loaded by your Flash files. So, if your Flash file loads an HTML file, an XML file, or another SWF file, Google will separately index that resource, but it will not be considered as part of the content in your Flash file.

If I'm not mistaken most of what's inside a Flash site still tends to be images and the navigation definitely so. I also thought one of the main ways to have text inside was to pull it from external txt and xml files. Been awhile since I used Flash for anything though.

Even if search engines can index Flash content, I'd still have a hard time recommending it. I think it works best as an application within a page or for certain types of sites. And for now search engines are still going to do much better indexing and ranking sites that aren't behind Flash files.

09-24-2009, 12:36 PM
No matter what Google can do, I will never recommend sites in flash. Aside from ranking, flash will cut your audience. I have been on sites where there was so much activity, my computer couldnt keep up. If your site crashes my computer, then I am not coming back.

With the evolution of ajax, I think anything you can do in flash can be done in ajax (jQuery). Granted ajax has its own issues, but I think its a lesser of two evils.

Back to flash, I believe its an accent, and not the focal point. I wouldnt want to depend on a companies ability to read me site to place me. Has yahoo or other sites developed this ability? Just seems like bad business to me.

09-24-2009, 01:00 PM
Back to flash, I believe its an accent, and not the focal point.

That's how I see it too. Now I have some some great sites that were 100% Flash, but I think for most sites you're better off developing in html and adding Flash to specific parts of the site as appropriate.

my computer couldnt keep up

Browsers still don't do Flash all that well. They are getting better, but not quite there. It's why I've installed plugins to prevent Flash from loading until I say it's ok to load it.