Flash applications can be indexed by search engines

Do you remember my article last week on Deep Linking and Flex? Well, I think it would be a good idea to read it, particularly if you don’t know how Deep Linking works in Flex. Why is that? Because Adobe has given a special Flash Player to Yahoo! and Google; that is able to index SWF files. So what does this mean? It means if you have built a Flash/Flex application which has dynamic/static data, Google and Yahoo! will be able to index it and display your application in the search result list if your app is relevant. This player lets a search engine “walk” through a Flash application in the same way a human would; it can click on buttons, change states, and make server requests for retrieving data stored on the server.

Is the world perfect, now? Definitely not, there are still some things to be worked out. But at least these search engines have a tool to index the content of millions of Flash applications. In time, people will put together SEO best practices for Flash applications, the same as we have today for HTML web sites. The best part is that you don’t have to change a thing in your existing applications in order to get indexed.

Here is the Adobe press release, and you can read about Google position on this matter here.

7 thoughts on “Flash applications can be indexed by search engines

  1. Can you clarify what you mean by

    ” which has dynamic/static data, Google and Yahoo! will be able to index it and display your application in the search result list if your app is relevant”

    Does this mean that all the content of external sources such as XML and databases that are used in an SWF will be indexed as part of it?

    i was reading this http://www.visible-form.com/blog/well-at-least-i-didnt-have-to-wonder-for-too-long/ which states that it isn’t. Can you just clarify for me what the special player google and yahoo have can index?

  2. @Tink

    Here is an excerpt from the Google FAQ (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/06/improved-flash-indexing.html):

    “Q: What are the current technical limitations of Google’s ability to index Flash?
    There are three main limitations at present, and we are already working on resolving them:

    1. Googlebot does not execute some types of JavaScript. So if your web page loads a Flash file via JavaScript, Google may not be aware of that Flash file, in which case it will not be indexed.
    2. We currently do not attach content from external resources that are loaded by your Flash files. If your Flash file loads an HTML file, an XML file, another SWF file, etc., Google will separately index that resource, but it will not yet be considered to be part of the content in your Flash file.
    3. While we are able to index Flash in almost all of the languages found on the web, currently there are difficulties with Flash content written in bidirectional languages. Until this is fixed, we will be unable to index Hebrew language or Arabic language content from Flash files.

    We’re already making progress on these issues, so stay tuned!”

    So, the technology is out there, it is just a matter of time until both Google and Yahoo! will incorporated. As you can see, Google is already working on this.

  3. Thanks for the reply.

    So at the moment dynamic data isn’t indexed as part of your Flash file.

    Obviously any indexing is a plus feature, but without indexing dynamic content, its pretty much only working for banners at the moment ;).

  4. Yeah, you are right. But looking at the statements I would expect this issue to be address very soon :)

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  6. You should try to look at Google site :)

    I don’t have any updates on this one. If I find something, I will post here an update.

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