Google just changed how they index and crawl Flash sites. Here is what you need to know!
 by Casey Markee

Google just changed how they index and crawl Flash sites. Here is what you need to know!

  • I have several sites designed with Flash. I understand that Google has recently made some changes in conjunction with Adobe regarding how they crawl and index this content. What, if anything, has changed in how Google now handles Flash content? What should I look for to best optimize my Flash content for the search engines?

Answer: As you've correctly stated, Google just made some major changes in how they handle Flash (SWF files) content that should make getting your optimized Flash content indexed noticeably easier. This new Google "Flash Algorithm" can now effectively index textual content in SWF files of all kinds and extract URLs embedded in Flash. However, there still seem to be noticeable deficiencies in how Google handles Flash files even with this new algorithm, including:

  • Google does not index URLs "containing #anchors (fragment identifiers) in Flash per W3C Guidelines.
  • Google does not translate Flash content into different languages.
  • Google has an issue associating text content within a Flash document with the correct parent URL or as a single entity.
  • Flash documents don't receive PageRank independent of their own parent URLs.

Nevertheless, even with the above shortcomings, your Flash content should now be better represented in Google. However, for best optimization, we recommend the following guidelines when handling Flash design elements and site architecture as we move into 2009:

  • Avoid adding text content and links within your Flash.
  • Don't design your page entirely with Flash-only content. Include HTML elements to ensure content indexing on the page.
  • Don't use text content in Flash supplied via third party files.
  • If you must use text content in Flash create individual Flash files laid ove...

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