A few weeks ago Google announced that it can now extract and index textual content from Adobe Flash files. We all know that creating websites in pure Flash is a big no-no if you care about being found through search engines. So is there nothing left that’s stopping web designers from switching from plain old HTML and CSS to rich interactive Flash? I have yet to find somebody who agrees with a resounding “yes!”
Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz, believes that this new development isn’t compelling enough to start building sites with Flash.
Flash content is fundamentally different from HTML on webpage URLs and being able to parse links in the Flash code and text snippets does not make Flash search-engine friendly. I think it’s great that Google’s digging deeper into Flash, but I don’t believe web developers should be any less wary than they’ve been in the past about Flash-based websites or Flash-embedded content.
If anything, I commend Google for continuing to convince web designers and search engine marketers alike to embrace web standards by pushing for the best practices in coding websites. Of course it’s the most logical thing both parties: search spiders need to parse content properly so that they can index it, and a well-formed webpage makes this possible; webmasters need not wade through nested tables and unnecessary tag soup when there’s a better way. And Google should, since it’s way more influential than Opera or any other web company out there.
However, Google’s efforts to read Flash still seem to be in the premature stages. Typical Google, they always release their products in beta without being wary of the consequences.
By consequences I mean clients who are now running around telling their web designers to create animated intros and the extravagant interfaces for their websites. I can’t really shoot down this little achievement by Google—except that it’s getting scarily smarter everyday and should try to have more features than issues when they launch a product.
More importantly, I can only continue to condemn those who misuse Flash without any regard for accessibility, much less usability, whatsoever.