Google gets better. Search Engine reads Flash

Flash12 months ago the Search Engine Google was indexing flash pages as individual swf files allowing users to click through to parts of websites often delivering an out-of-context experience – basically it wasn’t good for flash developers and definitely not the user.

The fact remains that a good multi-media experience on the web is quite often the integration of flash, video, javascript, html…the list grows.

Google’s inability to provide a solution for users wanting good results for flash and html integrated pages portrayed SEO practice as one that sacrificed the interactive experience that Action Script enables in favour of Googles preferrence for HTML.

Google will read Flash – we’re told

12 months ago it was all over the blogs that Google had built a new and dedicated robot that was going to search through flash content in the same way a user would, and then fairly integrate the pages into the SERPS mix. We waited and for a long while after we saw nothing in the results that Google threw up.

Proof that Google does Read Flash

6 months ago Google got into Flash. We noticed this with a client of ours, Voicenet Solutions, a Hosted IP Telephony provider. They deliver business phone services enabled by Cisco IP phones.

2 years ago a range of interactive user guides on various Cisco IP Phones were created in flash, these were designed to help users navigate the phones functionality through an online interface.

Up until 6 months ago these pages never appeared in the top 100 results for any of the related terms in the content. 6 months ago this changed.

Searchers looking for user guides for Cisco phones were finding themselves at Voicenet Solutions flash webpages. Google had demonstrated its ability to look through embedded flash text and reference the keyword text in the SERPs.

The Impact of Flash reading on Traffic

The impact of this change alone has seen Voicenet Solutions organic search traffic over the last 6 months increase by 300%. The result of this will also have had consequence for the category as the accessibility of this content makes the categories instantly more competitive.

From a design perspective there are still challenges. Google might server the correct flash file to search users in the correct html page but it will always load the file at the start leaving the user to navigate through the content to arrive at the relevant term.

One thing is certain, this example demonstrates Google’s desire to get better and better at indexing the web and deliver the most relevant user search experience as possible. On that thought, I can’t help but to think that Google’s competitors missed a trick on this one.

Top - Flash page is read by Google. Bottom left the results in the Serps. Right - the multiple search terms in analytics

Top – Flash page is read by Google. Bottom left the results in the Serps. Right – the multiple search terms in analytics