Google Indexing Flash – Don’t Party Just Yet
Ian Lurie Jul 1 2008
Search Engine Land reports that Google will now index Flash.
Woo hoo! Party! We can now design every web site on the internet in 100% Flash!
Not so fast.
While Google’s announcement sounds exciting, there are still significant search engine optimization and more general internet marketing issues that they haven’t addressed:
Yes, Google will crawl all those links in your Flash animation. But will they accord them the same value as links in an HTML page? They’re not saying.
I’ve long suspected that Google and Yahoo! award less or no value to links in Acrobat PDF files. That makes me think that Flash links won’t carry much weight, either.
Yes, this is conjecture. But it’s conjecture informed by years of betting chocolate on just these kinds of questions, so I have a strong incentive and track record.
Again, will keywords and the like in Flash files get the same attention? Probably not. Here’s why:
- Semantic markup: You can’t designate (as far as I know) level one and two headings in a Flash file. So there’s no way to show search engines the structure of your Flash content.
- Paragraph markup: There’s also notag that I know of in Flash. Another semantic markup issue.
Again, this is conjecture. But I reviewed the SWF specification and don’t see how you provide semantic markup. I’m all for playing it safe, and Flash content usually looks like gobbledygook when you try to read it with a spider.
Not the web kind, the information kind.
Google is secretive enough with their regular crawler algorithms, but we can use text-only browsers like Lynx to see how our sites will behave for a spider.
No such luck with Flash. How do we test for SEO happiness?
Flash still has all the same usability bugaboos. If your home page takes 10-20 seconds to load and then dances around like a spastic jitterbug, you’re going to lose customers no matter how easily they find you.
So my advice: Continue to exercise caution with Flash. Watch how the rankings shake out over the next few months. Then think about how you might work Flash into your internet marketing strategy.
Related: An SEO Workflow that Works
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More