Mark Cook of ZoomZoom Ltd in the UK wrote in to let us know that Google is indexing flash pages. Mark references this article about the topic. Based on this e-mail, I ran some tests, and the results are illuminating.
Query: cooking schools filetype:swf
Query: red wine filetype:swf
As you can see, Google is indexing flash. In fact, Google has been indexing flash for years (since 2004 or so). Yet Google still recommends against this practice. If you check out the Google Webmaster Guidelines, you will see the following recommendation:
So Google still recommends against this practice, and there is a reason why. Shari Thurow provides an excellent analysis as to why in her article from October of 2004. Here are two basic reasons:
- Many sites that use flash implement one flash movie for the whole site. The crawler is definitely not following that trail because it will only link one set of content to a given URL
- Flash pages tend to be thin on text, and do not index as well. This is because the medium seems to call for sites that use less text.
So you can build a flash site, provided that you build a different move for each page, and are pursuing non-competitive keywords. But it’s very difficult to have a flash site that ranks well for highly competitive terms. These sites need every possible advantage and require an authoritative approach to content to succeed. There is a reason you don’t see Flash ranking for highly competitive terms. It can’t compete with a well structured text site.