Adobe makes Flash searchable, Flash designers rejoice
Adobe's Flash technology has long been the bane of efforts to create a Web site or application that can be indexed by Google, Yahoo! or other search engines. What it lacked in search engine optimization (SEO), Flash made up in offering designers an infinite playground for creating rich-media apps, games and video.
But what good is an application that users can't find?
Yesterday, Adobe and the two search engine leaders came out with an answer: A special Flash player that opens up content within applications and translates it for search engines. Flash content owners and search-engine users should notice results immediately.
This news was also mentioned in today's Googleholic.
Google is at the forefront of this Flash-spidering technology with Yahoo! not far behind. (The latter plans to release their improved Flash search in a future update.) Both companies were provided an optimized version of Flash Player with which to develop their improved algorithms.
An entry on their Google WebMaster's blog says they're now able to index any content a user sees as they interact with the Flash file. They're also able to discover links used within the Flash file, which can presumably be used to boast page rank like a normal site.
Adobe has also posted information about SWF searchability on their site.
The search indexing of Flash currently only exists for text and links, not images or anchors on buttons and related objects. And unfortunately for the tremendous growth in Flash Video, or FLV, this format cannot yet be indexed either.
There are also other limitations reported by Google:
But while this search indexing technology is somewhat limiting now, it presents a huge opportunity for Flash designers and developers that could have been stunted due to Flash's unfriendly nature with SEO.
- We currently do not attach content from external resources that are loaded by your Flash files. If your Flash file loads an HTML file, an XML file, another SWF file, etc., Google will separately index that resource, but it will not yet be considered to be part of the content in your Flash file.
- While we are able to index Flash in almost all of the languages found on the web, currently there are difficulties with Flash content written in bidirectional languages. Until this is fixed, we will be unable to index Hebrew language or Arabic language content from Flash files.
Prior to this move by Adobe, most Web designers recommended against using Flash for areas of your site that are critical to usage or indexing. There were ways to improve the page rank and searchability of Flash sites, but they can be hackish.
Adobe says that current Flash content owners and developers need not change anything to make their files more searchable. But they contend that best practices will emerge as they did with HTML.
With one of Flash's major negatives now overcome, will Web designers once again embrace the still-propritary technology? Post your thoughts in the comments.