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Spartus Co-Flash

Image via John Kratz

Adobe Flash technology has long been a wedge issue between Search Engine Optimizers and Designers. Designer’s and clients love it, because it gives them control. If you want to talk about elusive or downright mythical things online, control is a good place to start. Control over your brand, message or story on the wild west playing field of the internet is definitely more art than science. This leaves many a client and graphic designer pining away for Flash technology, aka control, so that their site speaks more to their agenda and less to their user’s agenda. (This is the very definition of bad web design, by the way.)

Search Engine Optimizers hate it, because all these Flash sites are 100% invisible to the search engines. It takes a lot of extra work and some hacker-ish work-arounds to get the search engines to list you at all. And findability online is kind of like your health is in the real world: if you don’t have it, you haven’t got anything.

So, it’s kind of a HUGE DEAL that Google said something on their blog yesterday, that a lot of people have been waiting to hear for a long time. Drum roll, please…

Google Learns to Crawl Flash
6/30/2008 09:26:00 PM
Posted by Ron Adler and Janis Stipins, Software Engineers

Google has been developing a new algorithm for indexing textual content in Flash files of all kinds, from Flash menus, buttons and banners, to self-contained Flash websites. Recently, we’ve improved the performance of this Flash indexing algorithm by integrating Adobe’s Flash Player technology.

In the past, web designers faced challenges if they chose to develop a site in Flash because the content they included was not indexable by search engines. They needed to make extra effort to ensure that their content was also presented in another way that search engines could find.

Now that we’ve launched our Flash indexing algorithm, web designers can expect improved visibility of their published Flash content, and you can expect to see better search results and snippets.

This is great news, but it raises myriad questions.

  • How does the Google Bot treat text and anchor tags it indexes from SWF files?
  • What’s their equivalent of an H tag inside a SWF?
  • Or title tags?
  • What’s the difference between text lifted out of Flash file and text lifted out of paragraph tags?
  • Or is there any difference at all?
  • And on and on…

I’m no Flash guru (this is directly proportionate to the fact that I’m an SEO guy, or it was until now) but you can be certain that there are Flash gurus out there with this on their minds for the next few months. Then we’ll start seeing some trial and error results trickling out across the web and we’ll get a better handle on some of these questions. Until then, I’ll be treating Flash itself as one more weapon in my arsenal to get Google to take note of the things I want it to.

If I’m targeting a keyword I want it in h-tags, anchor tags, title tags, bold tags and in normal text. Well, now, I also want it in a Flash file.

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