In recent news, Adobe announced that it is taking steps to enhance search results visibility for websites using its Flash technology. For years, the integration of Flash into websites has been a double-edged sword, adding dynamic visual elements while obstructing search engines’ ability to comprehend its proprietary and image-based nature. However, recent developments indicate that Adobe is making progress in tackling this issue.
Challenge of Adobe Flash Integration and Search Ranking
One of the major challenges with Flash (besides serious accessibility issues) is creating captivating websites – especially where demand is high in the fashion and beauty sectors to use Flash – while facing the reality that search engines couldn’t effectively read Flash content. This limitation has posed a challenge to businesses aiming to have both visually stunning websites and high search engine rankings.
Flash’s appeal in web design
Despite its search engine challenges, Flash has long been a favourite (at least since the Macromedia days) of web designers and clients alike for its ability to produce slick animations, virtual tours, and panoramic images, particularly in the hotel and hospitality industry. Hotel companies, in particular, have requested Flash builds to showcase their offerings.
The SEO Conundrum and Transition to HTML
The main issue arises when businesses want to rank their Flash-integrated web pages at the top of search engine results (SERPS). Unfortunately, Flash’s proprietary nature meant that search engines struggled to decipher the content, leading to poor search rankings. A predicament we’ve encountered involves boutique hotel clients desiring both Flash-based presentations and high search engine visibility.
Due to this challenge, we have been approached by website owners, companies and SEO colleagues to convert or assist in converting Flash-based sites to HTML and SEO-friendly builds, so that content can be made accessible to search index spiders. Websites once adorned with hundreds of strategically embedded keywords (behind the Flash) to capture search rankings now have to adapt to more search-engine-friendly formats to avoid being penalised for excessive keyword usage, which risks the loss of valuable rankings or even removal from search engine indexes.
Adobe’s Update to Flash and Search Engine Compatibility
Adobe’s addressing the issue with Flash’s compatibility is a positive step forward that could potentially bridge the gap between visual experiences and strong search engine visibility. Adobe said in a statement today:
“Google has already begun to roll out Adobe Flash Player technology incorporated into its search engine. With Adobe’s help, Google can now better read the content on sites that use Adobe Flash technology, helping users find more relevant information when conducting searches. As a result, millions of pre-existing RIAs and dynamic Web experiences that utilize Adobe Flash technology, including content that loads at runtime, are immediately searchable without the need for companies and developers to alter them. Adobe Advances Rich Media Search”
I’m not fully convinced that Goolge’s search ‘bots’ will be able to read Flash without designers and builders continuing to add HTML backend content placeholders – this goes against Google’s guidelines of hiding content. Are they saying they won’t penalise Flash-built websites? I for one think Flash will be replaced in the coming years with technologies that are search-friendly but have the ability to produce high-end interactive content.
I remain sceptical about Google’s search ‘bots’ reading Flash content. Current practices involve designers and web builders adding HTML content placeholders to the backend, contradicting Google’s content-hiding guidelines. Personally, I think Flash will be replaced in the coming years with technologies that are search-friendly but have the ability to produce high-end interactive content.
Watch this space…