Thursday, July 3, 2008

Is the Web About to Get a Whole Lot Flashier?

Big news this week from Adobe. TechCrunch is reporting that (Flash files can now be found and indexed by the Google and Yahoo search engines.

Michele Turner, Adobe VP of Marketing, had this to say:
"We are releasing technology to Google and Yahoo that enables them to crawl and index SWF files. They are now searchable. This will open up millions of Flash files to search."

This definitely has the potential to change the way we think about web design and search engine optimization. As general rule, Marketing Breakthroughs has steered its clients away from Flash-heavy sites for the very reason that they are much harder (if not impossible) to optimize for Google.

But now that Flash can be indexed? Well ... even so, I wouldn't expect to see every new page on the block to be chock full of Flash. Yes, they look pretty (and people love shiny stuff), but one of the biggest things we stress when working with our web development partners is ease of use and overall usability in the website design and navigation.

The use of Flash is often just a way to satisfy the creative urges of the web developer, instead of focusing on the actual web browsing needs of the end user. And to me, nothing is more frustrating then going to a Flash-heavy site and having no idea where to click or where you'll end up once you actually find something to click on.

The author of the TechCrunch article makes another good point:

"Becoming visible is one thing, actually ranking highly is another ... until Adobe makes it easy for the average Webmaster or blogger to link deeply into those Flash files, they are not likely to appear at the top of many search results."

Remember, SEO is all about your content and your links -- and most people will backlink to your web page, not the Flash file itself. In the end, it seems that optimizing your site's Flash files will be as effective as the Google Image Search tool -- yes, if used right it can help users find you, but it will hardly be the new standard for SEO.