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Flash Is Searchable

By - June 30, 2008

This is a Big Deal. Now, I want to know: how will Flash files be ranked? Any ideas? Adobe is a major competitor to Microsoft in this front. How will Microsoft make Silverlight searchable? And will Google index all both equally? (My take: Oh yes it will. If it does not, that spells trouble in any congressional hearing…)

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7 thoughts on “Flash Is Searchable

  1. Andyed says:

    Thx for the link to the adobe docs!

    Silverlight has been searchable from day 1, by using a machine readable xml file for it’s UI.

    Alas, neither flash nor SL will help the engines understand the real presentation level segmentation of content.

    The big question is which format will support standard deep internal linking? That’s where Flash really fails the web.

  2. Ryan Stewart says:

    @Andyed, we’ve got deep linking in Flash –

    Developers have full control over the URL and what specific urls will display. It’s not perfect, and not widely used, but hopefully after today it will get more attention from people building Flash apps.


  3. Adam Flater says:

    @Andyed, not only that, but Adobe has a great open source community around it including the SWFAddress project (, an abstraction of the deep linking problem. The open source community effort for Flash and Flex is rising quickly to be comparable with the Java / C++ world.
    This is where Silverlight is failing the web. (At least for the time being)

  4. Two real sad aspects to all of this is that it took this long for this to happen.

    And that MSN is not included – (competition among Flash and Silverlight LOL:) – also ASK is an important player.

    Why was Google and Yahoo not motivated enough to pursue this aggressively years ago?

    Out of desperation, Webmasters began using the NOEmbed or NOScript or Alt tags to get their content ranked.

    Some even took it to the extreme of using Hidden Text.

    While Google bragged about penalizing, they did not care to understand how having to constantly choose between Aesthetics and Sizzle in design sometimes conflicted with the design limitations of powerful SEO

  5. nmw says:

    No search engine will understand graphic files in our lifetime. Following a link that has no meaning attached to it is meaningless — and if the meaning is transmitted via a graphic file, then that means it is meaningless (to the search engine).

    Luckily, there are other avenues to transport meaning to search engines — and it will probably always remain the case that the domain name is the most meaningful element and the starting point of any search event (e.g. typing in or clicking “”, “”, etc. — BTW: see also ).

  6. ShaneeK says:

    I noticed today that a Flash intro on one of my sites was indexed and thought that was weird… Then, I saw this “Aha!”

    Thanks for this post.

    I *do* think that the search engines will continue to evolve and *will* get better at understanding graphic files. Look at how far they’ve come…

  7. I’m very happy because now we can build flash sites without worry.