Google learns to read text in Flash files – What’s it mean for SEO?

Google have just announced that their world famous flagship product… you know, the search thing… can now read text elements inside flash files embedded on websites. They’ve been working hard alongside Adobe to get their new algorithm working, and Adobe seems to be similarly open to the idea as I’m sure it’s one of the most requested feature updates from web developers ever since the term SEO actually started standing for something.

There’s a few catches though, but it’s definately a step in the right direction. The requirements for Google to understand text in your Flash files is that it can’t be loaded from an external source, you can’t load the flash using javascript (as Google still doesn’t read javascript), and it only works with text elements (i.e. not rasterized text). If you’re careful though, you won’t have any problems getting it to read text from your rich applications built in flash and use that text just like it uses text in a html page.

While it is a big step for Google, it’s not time just yet to throw away html SEO strategies and start relying completely on flash built websites. One thing with SEO is that each page… PAGE… is ranked seperately for keywords, building strength on your domain for keywords that appear in multiply pages. So, if Google looks through a flash file, there’s no telling yet how it will treat the data it finds. According to the blog post, Google’s algorithm is not unlike a user clicking through a flash website, however it’s unclear if the text found is just added to one ‘html page’ as opposed to multiple seperate html pages.

It’s also the reason I still don’t use AJAX on SEO critical pages – there’s no point in refreshing the page content and not also the keywords, description, title and URL unless you have a nofollow on the whole page or you’re building the strength of an entire section of your site. Also, since deep linking techniques in Flash rely on Javascript, seperate URL’s for flash content contained in the one file would be subject to duplicate content risks.

I’m not about to start building full-Flash sites just yet, but it is nice to know you can still get SEO credit from Google for text in any elements you might want to include!

You can read more directly from Google here:
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/google-learns-to-crawl-flash.html

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