I read somewhere that Google and others are to start searching meta keywords ‘within’ Flash animations. Is this true?
The reason is that I want to create a website using an interactive city map on the homepage, close to the top. I know that Google will only cache the first few hundred KB of content, so my concern is getting keywords into the top of the page without pushing the interactive map down too far.
Rather than guess, I asked an expert about this, who answered on condition of anonymity. So, my “expert source says”:
“Yes, Google can parse through the text contained within a .swf file and present that information in a Google search. But due to the fact that an entire website can be contained in a single .swf file, whereas a traditional HTML site may consist of hundreds of individual pages, the weightings and rankings given to certain pages may not be accurately portrayed in Google’s results. In other words, a site that might have one page talking about Subject X, and a separate page talking about Subject Y… if a qualitatively better (in terms of actual content relevancy) site were created in Flash and everything was contained one .swf, a Google search for Subject X might rank the individual HTML page higher than the actually better .swf-based page.
“One of the recommendations is to break websites up into multiple .swf’s that are oriented to topics, but that isn’t always a workable solution. It’s also possible to use a Flash feature to export content into a page’s metadata, but that has its own challenges.
“Finally, because Flash is scripted, and because Google is secretive, we don’t know exactly whether Google’s spiders can follow the “loadMovie” action… essentially, Flash’s equivalent of a hyperlink that loads another page of content. While a spider can follow an <a href… just fine, if it can’t follow a loadMovie or other scripted link, then you won’t be able to get too deep within a site, even if it has topically-separated .swf’s.”
In addition, the popular search engine optimization site Webmaster World has this snippet:
“According to rumors both Google and Yahoo have the ability to crawl Flash files. Mind you these are merely rumors as Google rarely comments on their indexing techniques. Search and Flash experts are quick to point out that this new ability does not put Flash indexing and HTML indexing on equal footing. Experts recommend that you still place your search engine text along with your Flash file in HTML pages.”
More information is available at this ClickZ article too.