Flash SEO Has A Long Way To Go

Adobe recently announced that it had partnered with Google and Yahoo in an effort to make content presented in Flash files more visible to the search engines. Finally, someone other than Web developers are taking steps to address what is no doubt the biggest drawback to using Flash. This is good news because Flash sites have long offered many features to be desired via a rich user experience (and made development easier by avoiding browser inconsistencies associated with using javascript). But without visibility to the search engines, Web managers have opted for implementing other technologies that would ensure better SEO. According to Google, Flash files will be indexed by allowing the search engines to interact with them much like a user would, by clicking buttons to navigate through the content. In the past, search engines could not interact with Flash files.

But don't start planning an all Flash redesign of your site just yet. Although it's a step in the right direction, Adobe, Yahoo, and Google have a long way to go before Flash files can be indexed like HTML files. Even now, with these latest developments, the search engines will not be able to index Flash files that are embedded into a Web page via javascript (many developers use javascript to call Flash files because it overcomes an annoying limitation in Internet Explorer). Also, the search engines will not be able to see content in files that are embedded in the Flash file externally (such as XML, HTML, or other Flash files – these are often the primary sources of content in an all Flash site). Unfortunately, it seems that the advancements are limited to simply allowing Yahoo and Google to press buttons and read text that is coded directly into a Flash file.

So developers will no doubt continue to turn to other technologies, forgoing the rich user interface that Flash has to offer, until the search capabilities drastically improve. After all, what's the benefit of a great Web site if can't be easily found? Unless we see some real progress, I recommend using Flash only as a supplement to the presentation of your content.