Is Flash Content Finally Searchable?

A couple of days ago Adobe officially announced that they had created a way for Google and Yahoo (sorry, Microsoft) to read all of the content inside Flash animations on the Web.  Is this really the end of SEO people nagging everyone to avoid Flash or at the least relegate it to only graphics?

Unfortunately it’s not the “hole-in-one” solution Adobe is promoting it as.  The long-time problem with Adobe’s Flash technology is that content within it (like text and individual images) has been very difficult for the search engines to extract.  Google was able to pull in some of the words in Flash files previously but for the most part 90% of any Flash file was unreadable to a search engine spider/robot.

At least now all of the content contained in a Flash file can at least be extracted.  One big problem still remains, the content isn’t assigned to any particular web pages.  For instance, if you own but your entire website is contained in a Flash file, there are no unique page names or URLs associated with each section.  So the page containing content about oil paintings of cats would get lumped together with every other section of the website.  Google still sees a Flash website as one big singular page.  So optimizing the content can still on result in one or two listings for any search term.

This also creates a usability problem.  If a user finds content listed on Google that’s contained in a Flash website and they click on it, they’re not brought to that specific section but rather have to start at the beginning of the website and find their way to the right area.

So while this a good step in the right direction, it is still very advisable to use Flash sparingly, never for content and only within existing HTML pages.  The good news is that if you already have a Flash website, you may see a jump in your Google rankings (and eventually Yahoo, whenever they get around to implementing Adobe’s new technology), although don’t expect your website visitors to easily find what they’re looking for once they get to your site.

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