Google Starts Indexing Flash – Aftrethoughts
I have been thinking about Google’s recent announcement of their flash indexing capabilities. these are just some after thoughts on Google’s recent announcement of the Flash indexing and how it would effect SEO.
This document is made with the assumption that the readers are already aware of the recent announcement Google did about their capacity to index flash (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/06/improved-flash-indexing.html ).
1) In regards to content derived from external source such as a Flash file loading content from XML or loading an HTML file – This would not hinder Google’s capability to index the flash file or the content, however, the flash file would be evaluated by Google sans the content.
Now this leaves a scope for the content to get indexed separately.
If the content is in XML format ( as most flash only sites prefer to use) the problem would be that XML has no given semantic structure and any XML found will not have any meaning unless it’s loaded, parsed, interpreted and displayed by executing the SWF. It could just be a config file or may be some proper text and it would often be useless to the users unless parsed properly.
2) Adobe mentions that they have provided Google and Yahoo with a player that can execute Flash somewhat similar to a human being. A significant percentage of Flash sites for various reasons use a bootstrap SWF which loads the main SWF. Given the fact that this new player allows Google to execute Flash, it should not be an issue , however , a search of “loading filetype:swf” in Google tells a different story.
There are numerous Flash sites that execute a SWF to reach the actual SWF with content. This means you will se no content at all except perhaps “Loading…”
3) Google has mentioned
“In addition to finding and indexing the textual content in Flash files, we’re also discovering URLs that appear in Flash files, and feeding them into our crawling pipeline—just like we do with URLs that appear in non-Flash web pages.” –
So ideally it should not be a problem to have a flash navigation as long as it is text.
4) In most flash websites when you click on links new page loads but the URL doesn’t change. Armed with the new technology provided by Adobe Google can now follow the links and index the content on all the pages in the flash site, however, if the URL doesn’t change Google would consider the entire content to belong to the same URL. This can lead to..
a. A site with different types of service offering would have content for all of them in different pages but Google would see them as all in one page resulting in dilution of relevancy and keyword strength.
b. While searching for some keyword Google might show a search result with a snippet from the content in some internal page of the flash site, however, when the user clicks on the link the flash would load from the beginning ( home page) and the user would not be able to find the content he saw on the snippet. He will have to search through all the pages to find the content. So this defeats the purpose of serving content efficiently.
For the best user experience and higher conversion rates from search, Flash developers should be careful to avoid this situation by creating distinct URLs for each piece of content. This type of implementation would also helps the Flash site be more viral as well and it would be possible for users to share the same via email, Digg, Stumble upon and other content sharing platforms.
5) Google says
7) Looking back, we often created HTML alternative of Flash websites for search engines – will these be considered as duplicate content in the changed scenario?
These are just a few questions and thoughts that we need to think about and probably some of them will get clearer with time. Share your views on these and any other points that you might like to add.
Google Enhances Flash Indexing