October 15, 2004

Flash Intolerance and Search Engine News

For ages now, the various arguments against whole-Flash websites have included the fact that search engines can't read text embedded in Flash files — which means that no matter what is written in a Flash-only website, that "page" or text will not be found in search engines. In effect, this made Flash-only sites "invisible" on the Web, requiring other methods of advertising than, say, the optimization of HTML pages for search engines.

Well, surprise surprise — note this thread at searchengineforums.com:

Well its finally happened. Google has implemented Macromedia Flash Search Engine SDK and is indexing Flash Text, not just GetURL. Do a search for whatever and filetype:swf and you'll see what I mean ….

A follow-up search at Google for "web hosting" filetype:swf returns only Flash files rather than text-laden HTML pages containing Flash. So the advice that "search engines cannot read Flash files" is beginning to be dated advice indeed.

Of course, making a site search engine friendly (able to be read by search engines) is one thing. But to take advantage of this development in terms of ranking well (at Google, anyway), Flash designers will have to optimize text for search engines. Which is a whole other issue, but certainly one that can be surmounted.

2 Comments to "Flash Intolerance and Search Engine News"

  1. ILoveJackDaniels says:

    The argument about Flash being bad has been only in part down to the seo issues. There are more important reasons for not creating flash-only sites – that they are usually extremely large in size, therefore slow, and they are almost always completely and utterly inaccessible.

    Nice to see Google taking this step though, because there are decent flash sites out there, but I hope people don't take this as an invitation to start doing more flash-only sites!

  2. Diane says:

    I have to agree with you there, ILJD. Even with broadband, it can be annoying to go from page to page waiting for the loading to stop.

    Yes, inaccessibility would be something that Macromedia needs to address. Not sure if pages within one Flash movie can be bookmarked.

    On the other hand, there are great uses for Flash on some sites; film clips come to mind.

    Found you in our logs, by the way, saw your links page … and spent part of the night reading that Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About page AGAIN. If I've lost time, it's your fault! LOL

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