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Google improves its Flash Site Indexing

This summer, Google announced a new algorithm which facilitates the indexing of the Flash animation format within its search engine. This improvement will allow the indexing of many sites developed in Flash, that were, up until now, not visible to Google.


What does this new algorithm bring to the table? Will it really improve indexing of Flash sites? IC-Agency has peeled back some of the layers of this new optimization to bring you the details.


1. Indexing of text from Flash files


The Google algorithm is now able to index text content found in Flash animations (SWF files), which will also allow:


  • association of the text contained in an SWF file with certain searches
  • the use of text found in SWF files to create snippets (descriptive text found under Google’s search results)


Google uses the example of the site Deep Impact:


Preview of the site in the search results before the improvement to the algorithm:




Preview of the site in the search results after the improvement to the algorithm:






2. Link Analysis within Flash files


The second feature that was announced is a URL finder. In its blog, Google tells us that its engine “crawls” the pages of a website the same way a user would. The engine then finds, follows and remembers any URLs that are within the Flash file. With this method, Google is now able to index web pages that were previously invisible.


3. The Limits and Inconveniences of Flash Page Indexing


At this time, only text content will be taken into account by these new features. Therefore, a Flash site made entirely of images will not be taken into account by Google. For this reason, if a Flash site contains nothing but images, it will not be indexed.


On the other hand, Google is able to follow links and associate text content with the pages it visits in the search results. However, if the site does not contain a URL per page, Googlebot will associate one URL for several content pages. Google will then display in its search results a single URL for several content pages found by their robot. The internet user will not necessarily land on the expected page. These sites then suffer from a lack of internal and external links, essential factors to consider when optimizing to obtain a good page rank.


Finally, there are a few obstacles when indexing certain Flash pages:


  1. Googlebot cannot execute certain types of Javascript. Consequently, if the page loads a Flash file via Javascript, Google will not be able to index it.
  2. Google is unable to associate multiple resources that load with a single SWF file. In other words, if the Flash file simultaneously loads other HTML or XHTML files for example, they will be indexed separately, not as part of the original SWF file.
  3. Googlebot does not recognize Hebrew or Arab at this time. SWF files in these languages will not be indexed.


In conclusion, the change to the algorithm is certainly an improvement for the indexing of Flash pages, but it does not guarantee a good page rank. A site with HTML pages remains the most efficient way to earn a good page rank.

By IC-Agency | August 25, 2008 |

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