Yes given that Google/Yahoo/Adobe made sweeping announcements I thought it was worth revisiting my Flash SEO tests to see how they are doing and introduce some new tests.
For those that are not sure what this is about, Adobe and Google claim Flash is now “indexable” of course since most SEOs are sheep they spent a lot of time cheering even those who were sceptical still clapped liked penguins. For those of us who have an interest in Flash Google announcement was nothing more then a minor update to farcical heap of dung. But lets ask some very basic questions:
- Is Flash indexable?
- Does Flash Rank for terms?
- Is a Flash Link Followed?
- Does a Flash Link pass juice?
So back to the original tests….
Back in February I updated a post (Flash the SEO Devil?) from previous April discussing a set 30 tests over 4 domains to see what information the search engines saw from a Flash file.
It looked like…
|Text As Graphic||Yes||No||No||No|
|Text As Symbol||No||No||No||No|
|Text With Links||No||No||No||No|
|Pages via SWF||No||No||No||No|
|Deep links (swfaddress)||Yes||Yes||No*||No|
Flash SEO Now
Not pretty basically ignore Ask and they all could manage to do something, but none of them could really deal with anything complex such as converting text into a symbol. Also multiple screens and points on timeline caused lots of problems, and then we got to passing link juice it just didn’t happen.
What’s it like now
So 6 months on and a major announcement later…
Drum roll please
yes you have guessed it nothing has changed!
Actually that is not true Google now doesn’t index 2 of our test files but it does find 3 extra lines of content in one of our files. So lets taker a closer look at Googles implementation of the Adobe Search Indexing Solution:
Flash Indexing Today
Is Flash indexable?
Yes. Generally text elements held in a single screen or scene within a Timeline that uses limited actionscript can be full extracted. Complex actionscript can cause some problems but on the whole textual content can be got at but when it is extracted no positional (within the timeline) information appears to be passed.
Yes, because of a change in the Search SDK to call SWF within a player and allowing it to make its calls first most Flex applications can be indexed this is actually a pretty big thing if the rest of it had been sorted. But Server Side Flash is the one area where improvement has been made.
FLV Subtitles Indexable?
Ok this was never going to happen but we can only hope.
Well this died when Macromedia were bought by Adobe and was a bit to close to PDF for comfort however if I was given the choice of PDF or Flash Paper, PDFs are indexed and links followed so are probably preferable from an SEO point of view.
Does Flash Rank for Competitive terms?
Not without a serious amount of external links and it never will until Adobe stops pandering to Flash Designers desire not to have to change their habits, for more information why see Adobe You Just Get Search. But Lets look at the factors that help rank pages, excluding external links…
Is a Flash Link Followed?
The original SDK would find all the links in a Flash file and put them in a text file minus anchor text for the search engine to do what ever they wanted to. The new version appears to do the same thing, which means that links do not appear to be followed.
Does a Flash Link pass juice?
Do I have to even comment if the links are not being followed then they can’t pass any link juice, but if the new Search mechanisms work in the same way as the old SDK then the link would be stripped from its context anyway so even if it was followable it wouldn’t pass any serious juice.
Other Flash Ranking factors
Well given Adobe has not provided a mechanism to mimic heading tags etc this is pretty much none. However this is the place where Adobe and Google could work hand in hand and truly make Flash and more importantly Flex searchable but it does require changing designer habits.
Flash SEO Tests next generation
So now its time to think of some of the problems flash will face even beyond those we initially posed (and which it failed) So here are some of the current tests I am running and will return with the results in part 2.
- If an SWF is embedded using the embed tag but not linked to will it be indexed?
- If in robots.txt file the Flash file is blocked but the embedded page is not is it indexed?
Yahoo and Flash
Always the bridesmaid never the bride they seem to have been missed out of all the major announcements yet they also have access to the new technology (unlike Microsoft) but it would appear have yet to implement the new features as of writing.