Google Stops Indexing Adobe Flash Content

John Lister's picture

Google has taken yet another step to try to kill off Adobe Flash. The move will dramatically reduce the visibility of Flash content in its search results.

Adobe Flash was once innovative and the primary way for delivering animated and interactive content online, including online-based browser games and even advertisements. Even so, many web designers seemed more interested in showing off their creativity with Flash rather than making a usable and useful site.

Adobe Flash Security Bugs Severe

As far back as 2010, Apple made the decision to ditch Flash entirely from its devices - a move that was controversial at the time. In 2015, Adobe Flash made the list for top 10 bugs exploited by hackers.

Now not only is the technology outdated, but it has a terrible reputation for wasting resources and opening up security holes which can allow for remote code execution. This type of flaw could allow cyber criminals unprecedented access to a machine, for example.

Flash To Die Out From 2020

Most major browsers now disable Flash by default in favor of HTML5, which is an open source alternative and allows for rich media content similar to Flash. This means users will have to actively click on the Adobe Flash content (if available on a webpage) and confirm they want to run it.

In July 2017, Adobe made an announcement that it would stop developing Flash from the end of 2020.

While Flash will still be available, Google says that once Adobe stops development it will completely block Flash in Chrome, with no option to turn it on. That's mainly a security move given the increased risk that any vulnerabilities will remain unpatched.

In the meantime, tech giants such as Google are continuing to reduce incentives to use Flash. The latest move involves the way Google indexes sites for its search results.

Flash-Only Websites Ignored

If a page contains some Flash content, that part of the page will be ignored when Google indexes the page. This means it will be less likely to show up when people search for a relevant term. Any pages that simply consist of a Flash format (SWF) file will be completely ignored. (Source:

Google concedes it won't make much difference to the average search result, as it has already put a low priority on Flash content when deciding how to rank a page. However, Google says this latest move will discourage web developers who still rely heavily on Flash content. (Source:

A surprising number of major TV stations and services still use Flash for streaming video content on the web. However, these services likely won't be affected by Google's decision, as they are well-known enough where the content is accessed directly from the user entering typing in the website directly, or by bookmark.

What's Your Opinion?

Is this a good move from Google? Will it make much difference? Do you still use Flash-based sites regularly?

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