Flash No Longer Invisible To Search Engines

Dennis Faas's picture

Adobe has unveiled changes which will allow both Google and Yahoo to search content contained within Flash presentations.

Flash is a system used to produce audio-visual content for websites, such as short movies and animations, in a way that looks the same on all machines. It usually involves much smaller file sizes than traditional video formats such as Windows Media. Designers can also incorporate interactive content in Flash such as games and quizzes.

However, one major flaw for website owners has always been the fact that Flash content is searchable in the same way as regular website content. That not only means the actual content of the presentations is invisible to search engines, but it means links built-in to a Flash presentation 'don't count' in Google's system which puts a heavy emphasis on the way sites of varying authority link to one another. (Source: techspot.com)

Adobe's new solution will only work with text and links in SWF files, which are used for Flash multimedia presentations. It still won't be able to cope with the video-only FLV files, such as those used on YouTube. That's because those files have no method of signalling the difference between a caption or other text and the rest of the video.

It looks like each search engine will have to come to a specific arrangement to be able to index Flash content. Microsoft's search engine isn't benefiting from the new solution, though it's still uncertain whether that decision is down to Microsoft or Adobe. It may be partially down to Microsoft having its own presentation system, Silverlight, which is something of a rival. (Source: arstechnica.com)

The new system is certainly good news for website owners who use a lot of Flash content and previously felt it unfair that they didn't get their 'correct' ranking in search engines. But some will be concerned that it will further encourage designers to use Flash, which too often involves people creating animations and presentations to show off their design skills rather than to produce genuinely useful content.

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