Google, in its never ending quest for web dominance has just announced its new algorithm designed to index flash content. This comes as a huge delight to many web developers who develop websites in Flash, since previously; flash content was not indexable by search engines. In the past, developers had to present content in a variety of different ways to ensure the site was properly indexed, if they chose to develop the site in Flash. This new algorithm will be able to index textual content contained within SWF files, such as Flash menus, buttons and banners, and self-contained Flash websites.
While this is obviously a great enhancement to Google’s already substantial indexing algorithms, I feel that a complete reliance on flash degrades the overall quality of a site. Don’t get me wrong, Flash can be spectacular, but in and of itself…not so much.
As cliché as it is to say, regarding web design the best route is generally everything in moderation. A well rounded site with solid textual content in addition to Flash content designed to enhance the aesthetic aspect of the site is going to benefit from this new algorithm. The problem arises with sites which rely completely on Flash content. Flash should never be a substitute for good old fashioned text based content, but rather, an additional aspect to a site’s overall content. A completely Flash site can now be expanded, by creating comprehensive SWF text files essentially describing your Flash content.
Flash has become an integral part to successful web design and this implementation by Google is going to further help the Flash community grow. This is a great addition to Google’s arsenal of indexing tools and it will be interesting to see this play out. I wonder if there will be significant changes in organic listings under certain search terms due to the inclusion of Flash content to the indexing process. This could definitely throw a wrench in the gears of small business sites because they may not have the expertise or financial ability to create/add Flash content to their sites. The importance of Flash content and how it factors into an overall ranking is yet to be seen, but there is no doubt that “the times, they are a changin’.”