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So Google Can Read Flash? Don’t get too excited just yet…

The latest excitement in the SEO world is Google’s recent announcement that after teaming up with Adobe, they can now read flash sites more effectively and you can expect your Flash site to rank better.


Just like when Google announced that they would be reading PDF files more effectively (and I’m still waiting on the rankings to change dramatically on that front) I’m not getting too excited just yet.

First of all, the very nature of a news story is that it gets hammed up to get the attention of more people. Google didn’t say they can full ready flash sites and will now rank them with their HTML counterparts (which is what a lot of people assumed) they actually said they have “improved ability to read them”, it doesn’t mean that the algorithm is going to dramatically change and it doesn’t mean because you can read something you can understand it.
It would be very foolish based on this release from Google to go out and build a flash site confident you’ll rank as well if your site is in .html. And it’s a little rich to say “we can read flash sites”, what they’re actually reading is the text within the .swf file and the links within the file. If you have a movie embedded in your site with words in it, Google isn’t able to read the words in the movie.

I think the most interesting thing about this is has been the various questions that have arisen and the effect that this is going to have on the ability of people like me to now charge more to SEO a flash site.  

As flash sites only have one point of entry, what if the part of the site that is relevant to your search is deep within the flash file on an inner page, the only place you can enter is the beginning, is this a good experience or a relevant experience?

Flash sites only have one title tag and meta description so then if an inner page of the flash site is relevant will it display a snippet in the search results from the page or the possibly irrelevant one from the homepage?

At the moment, Google gives relevance for tags that indicate an emphasis on headings or bolded text, how are they going to do this on a flash site where there is no relevance to emphasis in the text?

As you can see, there are more questions than answers at this point. As usual in SEO we’ll wait and test and test some more.

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