Helping Flash Become SEO Friendly

Now that Adobe has made the modifications to Flash so that it will be indexable, and the search engines have begun to index Flash, does that mean you can just put any Flash piece up and it will be indexed without any problems? Not really, you still need to do a little extra work on your part to ensure that the Flash work will be indexed and read correctly by the search engines. Otherwise you may be in the same boat as you were before they were able to read Flash.

So here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Currently Google is the only search engine who is noticeably reading Flash files. They have worked closely with Adobe to develop the right toolset for the Googlebot in order to read the files for indexing. Yahoo! is “working on it.” MSN is developing their own format, Silverlight, which will compete with Flash, so they probably won’t be developing the toolset necessary to read Flash files.
  • Search engines still can’t follow JavaScript, so be sure that your links to Flash files are not done in JavaScript or the Flash still won’t be indexable and it won’t be because of the Flash file.
  • Include keywords in your content—of course! Use relevant, researched keywords that you want to rank well for.
  • As with your website, use text instead of images so the spiders have something to eat and index. If everything is in an image, there will be nothing left for them to index.
  • Be sure to use an HTML layer for your Flash file and include all your links in it that are in your Flash file. Remember to not use JavaScript to execute any of your links.
  • Use SWFObject 2.0 for the best programming that detects whether or not a browser supports Flash and then serveseither the Flash or HTML text version of the website based on what it detected. Read more about what’s required here on Google’s website.
  • Google has noted on its website that they are having issues indexing bidirectional languages (Hebrew and Arabic).

According to the Google website their algorithm follows Flash files in the same way that a person would, by clicking buttons, entering input, and so on. The algorithm remembers all of the text that it encounters along the way, undoubtedly better than a person does; that content is then available to be indexed by the algorithm. Google utilized Adobe’s new Searchable SWF library in order to improve the algorithm’s effectiveness.

We’re still waiting to see what Yahoo! has to say about how they will index Flash, but it’s a safe bet that if you follow what Googlebot needs, Yahoo! will eventually be able to read it too.

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3 Comments

  1. Joel says

    Great post – I think many companies are behind the curve on this point. Another helpful thing to test your site is Google’s “filetype:swf” option (or by using the option on the advanced search page). It’s a great way to see if your Flash content is being indexed.

  2. Cameron says

    After many hours of research and development, we decided that the best way to present the content to Google would be through alternative html content with flash files embedded through swfobject. Whilst the ability of flash files to be indexed is good – it has limited use for most sites that are attempting to gain organic rankings.

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