Google updates Flash content indexing

It seems Google did an update to how it indexes Flash content yesterday. Some of you might have already heard about the headless Flash Player aka “Ichabod” that Google and Yahoo got from Adobe — it seems it is now being put to better use.

Google has been indexing Flash content for years, basically extracting any static text that might be embedded in there. If you do a search with the filetype:swf flag you’ll see what that turns up.

Now with this new headless Flash Player, rather than trying to extract static data from the SWF file, it runs it over a command-line (non-visually) and gets back information about the contents of your Flash file, it will simulate button clicks etc. and capture the text results for indexing.

The important update now is that Google will also follow external resources, so for example XML files or other data that gets loaded in and not index it as a separate URL (as before) but in context to your Flash content. If you want to avoid your SWF files from getting crawled you can simply include them in a robots.txt directive like any other content.

 
More information here
 

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6 thoughts on “Google updates Flash content indexing

  1. zedia.net says:

    This was a much needed step towards good Flash SEO. Nearly all the website I build use external preloader so none of them could get indexed. Now they can start working on the troublesome topic of giving different value for different content inside the swf.

  2. TK says:

    And what if the buttons that google clicks for us trigger database transactions/persistence operations? I for one am not excited about this overhead.

  3. Peter says:

    @zedia – I’m not convinced that didn’t work before, from my initial tests when it was first announced it seems they did manage to do that. The only difference being the SWF files would get indexed on separate URLs.

    What they announced yesterday puts data discovered through the headless Flash Player in context to the originating SWF.

    @TK – I think that is a very valid concern and one I was also wondering about. Don’t have a definitive answer, but using a robots.txt is easy enough and never been a believer of SWF as a means to obfuscate calls to the server.

    I think its fair to assume as a fact of life that URLs in any client side technology can get indexed and you can prevent that by using the robots.txt directive.

  4. Ain says:

    I wonder if it also works with Flash remoting, e.g. AMFPHP? If it’s resolved in the fashion that TK references above, it’s terrible really.

  5. Jeff Fall says:

    Tools… Where are the tools for this? Tools you ask, what tools exactly?

    Basically I would like to see a tool for this google SWF indexing that would allow me to put my flash site on an public facing page and have a google tool that would show me what it is going to index.

    This information wouldn’t be made publicly accessible, it would just be information that a developer could use to make sure that Google is seeing his project correctly before it goes live.

  6. […] I wonder if it also works with Flash remoting , e.g. AMFPHP? If it's resolved in the fashion that TK references above, it's terrible really Read more: Google updates Flash content indexing | Peter Elst […]

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