For years, I’ve been able to convince web designers not to design using Adobe Flash. I personally believe that web sites built entirely in Flash make for a poor user experience, but I’ve been able to play the "Google can’t index Flash" card as a cover-up for my dislike of Flash. "Don’t avoid Flash because I say so, avoid Flash because your web site will be invisible to Google."
It worked like a charm. That is, until now. Google just ruined the web.
Thanks to Adobe’s new Searchable SWF library, Google has announced a new indexing algorithm that is able to crawl and index the content of Flash files.
The Google Webmaster Central blog answers questions on the new algo, the most important being:
Q: What content can Google better index from these Flash files?
All of the text that users can see as they interact with your Flash file. If your website contains Flash, the textual content in your Flash files can be used when Google generates a snippet for your website. Also, the words that appear in your Flash files can be used to match query terms in Google searches.
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 webpages. For example, if your Flash application contains links to pages inside your website, Google may now be better able to discover and crawl more of your website.
Now, before you all rush off to fire-up your copy of Adobe Flash, keep this in mind.
- Until Google can demonstrate that its Flash crawling capabilities are equal to its HTML crawling, you risk building a site that, while indexable, is not as "optimized" as its simple HTML cousin.
- If your Flash site is nothing but cool imagery and little else, you still won’t rank for much.
- If you build Flash web sites just because you have the skilz–and not because it’s a better user-experience–I will not rest until I hunt you down!
PS. Yahoo’s ability to index Flash will also benefit from the Adobe update. Unfortunate it’s too busy figuring out what it wants to be when it grows up, so hasn’t announced support yet.