Since Flash was created SEO’s have had nothing but trouble with people whose sites are made purely of flash or if the site in question included a lot of flash content. The reason the trouble arises is due to Adobe Flash’s inability to be properly indexed by search engines but to the joy of web-designers this problem may be finally (or at least in part) coming to end.
Google have recently been working closely with Adobe to create a cleaner and more in-depth search algorithm that utilises Adobe’s Flash Player so that it can Index all the textual content and links in a Flash app (yes so that means flash menu’s will work! *gasps*). The immediate problems SEO’s have always had when it comes to flash menu’s in particular is that the site’s other pages don’t get indexed, since the menu doesn’t get indexed the links to the rest of the site won’t get indexed so in essence Google doesn’t know there is any more to the site than the homepage. But thanks to this advancement in the search Spiders website owners will now be able to keep their flashy shiny menu bars and boxes (although the images won’t be indexed, yet) but of course this hasn’t solved everyone’s problems. Unfortunately for people who have completely flash-driven sites you’re still unfortunately going to be kicking and screaming for website rankings, maybe not as much as you where before, but still screaming.
The main problem with completely flash driven sites is that flash is still one application, on one page, on one site; Google simply can’t determine links within a flash application. For example, if you have a flash site which has a menu with say, Home, About Us and Contact Us on it. If you click the About Us Link on the app the application will change its display to the ‘About Us’ page, you’ll also notice that the URL in your browser is still the same. This is essentially because in the eyes of the web you haven’t gone anywhere, all you’ve done is tell a program to change what it’s currently displaying.
This is what creates the problem for Google, the spider sees that page as a single entity the only difference is that Google will now read every piece of text that’s in that flash file and consider everything it finds the content of that sole page. Which means if you’ve got an enormous flash site with a lot of text then you’re going to have one seriously over-packed and unfocussed page which isn’t particularly good for SEO on it’s own unless you’re trying to rank for one of those unbearable ‘get rich quick’ schemes.
Summary, this is definitely going to make designers lives easier and ensure that people with flash navigation will actually be spidered properly which will benefit a lot of sites. I’m just hoping that these new advancements in flash-indexing continue and advise everyone to wait before going flash crazy.
(I decided to do a couple of searches for .swf files on Google and it seems to be working in a relatively ordered manner. Unfortunately people’s programs often haven’t got the best text to start off on such as ‘video title here’ and such but it’s good to see it working.)