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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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