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Can Google Index Flash and Other Rich Media Files?

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Most Web designers are perplexed when a client asks them to build a flash Web site and also optimise it for search engines. This is because more often than not, you have to choose between search engine optimisation and a flashy design. For the best flexibility and results, when it comes to SEO, I always recommend anything other than Flash because search engines are text based and consequently for any content to be crawled and indexed, it has to be in a text format. Thus, those Websites that are fully immersed in Flash often find it difficult to be crawled hence requiring Web designers to create text versions of any content that is embedded in rich media.

However, things are beginning to change for the better – many search engines especially Google which can now index most types of files and pages including Flash, Silverlight and videos although certain guidelines have to be followed to boost Googlebot’s ability to crawl and index your content successfully. In summary, Google can now find and index text content in SWF files such as Flash Websites and elements such as buttons or menus and URLs embedded in Flash files although due to present technological challenges it does not provide any guarantee that all your content will be crawled or indexed.

Consequently, Web designers may still have to create text-based equivalents of media-rich content to make indexing easier for Googlebot and other search-engine crawlers in addition to making your content more accessible to Web users that are still using older Web browsers and mobile phones. Note that Google states categorically that “content displayed via iFrames may not be indexed and available to appear in Google’s search results” therefore, avoid using iFrames to display content on Web pages as much as possible.

Talking Point

Do you prefer Flash-based Websites to text-based ones?

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Web Hosting

    September 7, 2010 at 8:58 am

    For me, i rather use text based that using flash for my website. it is somehow beneficial in so many areas. Flash is just a decoration and nothing spectacular about that.

  2. Laptop Shade

    September 7, 2010 at 11:15 am

    I think flash will be dead in about 5 years. HTML5 can do everything it can in a more accesible way!

    • Admin

      September 13, 2010 at 2:32 pm

      HTML 5 – woohoo!!!

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Can Google Index Flash and Other Rich Media Files?

  4. abdominoplasty

    September 14, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    it is going to be a challenge but I thing if anyone can do it Google will be the ones who do it.

  5. horsegames

    September 14, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    that is why they are introducing HTML 5,

  6. Neil Nand

    September 22, 2010 at 1:24 am

    You just need to be clever about it. I’m a Flash freelancer and obviously this argument and the iPhone argument is going to have a heavy impact on me.

    So I came up with a system to re-render content for google and mobile phones, while still having the richness of Flash for users.

    neilnand.com.au, check it out your iphones/ipads or do google searches. BANG! 🙂

  7. DKNJ Networks

    November 14, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I agree that flash will soon be a thing of the past but as far as SEO goes, having a few flash elements in a site will not hurt ranking. Now a site that is 100% flash is a bad idea.

  8. Jim Olenbush

    August 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know that Google can now crawl flash files. This is amazing. There’s definitely a massive make over of my website. Thanks once again and keep up the good work.

  9. Don

    April 4, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Google cannot crawl flash or videos, so it’s a bad idea to add them unless it’s going to add to the page, and you have other elements on the page that can be crawled. Especially don’t use flash for menus

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