So Adobe have made a big announcement that they are licensing new technology to search engines to make Flash search engine friendly except of course it and Adobe are not search engine friendly.
Adobe Flash Search SDK…
For those who don’t know Adobe already (did) have a Search SDK for Flash, indeed I have it on my machine now and Google have been using it for some time, so is Flash SEO Friendly? (answer no)
So I was a bit surprised to see an announcement and went to look for the original and presumably base code for their amazing technology guess what it gone walkies!
Dear Adobe, Removing whole swathes of your website because you have withdrawn a product doesn’t work we can still see it via Google Cache! A cynic might think this new announcement is a publicity stunt and the reason for the vanishing old product might be a rehashed relaunch.
But Why is Flash inheritable unsearchable
Adobe and before it Macromedia just don’t get Search they never have this continued quest to make SWF files searchable is as much about them trying to appease a bunch of consumers who equally don’t get search. But why is the mammoth task a problem?
A Website contains several pages with each page having its own content both contextual, semantic and binary (words, tags, images) and each page is linked with others both on the site and off.
A SWF file contains data not as a collection of pages (which it could do with scenes and screens) but as a single page with different content at different points in time. Just think about for a moment imagine taking all the content of a swf file and lumping it together into one big unjustified paragraph welcome to SWF Searching. The Old SDK could only extract a limited amount of information the new Adobe Indexing system uses a modified Flash player presumably to help counter the time and space issue.
If the Adobe Indexing software works like its predecessor the next step is to extract all the links from this big paragraph and separate them! So now we have a big ball of text and a list of URLs, what do you expect a search engine to do with that?
Search engines are stupid they need to be told what is important (heading tags) they need to know what context a link is (anchor text) and generally they are very single minded (1 page per topic) all of these things make any SWF Indexing (while very technically possible and always has been) unlikely to succeed any more then before. So why the announcement?
Adobe needs Flex to work!
Forget your typical Flash website, this is not the reason for Adobe new desperate measures but turn to its hybrid XML, Server, Action script child Flex. Desperate for a slice of the Web 2.0, web service market the guys at Adobe ploughed a lot of cash into a pretty large white elephant and while Flex is very cool (I use it for a couple of internal projects) it was never designed to go near a search engine.
So how do Adobe fix this mess?
They could withdraw their only real project, make a big announcement declare Google will do all the hard work hand them back a modified version (maybe they will attempt to contextualise links hmm maybe not) and run away. At least from the outside this is what it looks like, from Google point of view they are stuck between a rock and a hard place there is a very easy solution give substantially more weight to SWFs and change the balance of inbound links, relying on the inbound links to provide hints to the importance of the SWFs own internal keywords. Alternatively they can turn round to Adobe present them with SEO101 and tell them to generate code that has comparable information to html tags. Guess which is more likely?
[update] it was inevitable…
Both Google and Adobe stressed to me that this is a big win for both site owners and searchers and that it should improve relevancy in search results. They noted that Flash developers don’t have to do anything in their applications to make this new technology work for their sites.
Vanessa you really should know better!
[Update 2] Google Webmaster Blog has provided an overview guess what it does nothing new and all the old problems remain! You are I’m sure shocked!