The internet changes every day and it's difficult to completely keep up with new technology. In jWAG we prefer to test out new things first and see if they are useful before simply reporting on the news like every other technology blogger is inclined to do.
However, last week Google made an announcement that is well worth reporting on, and one that certainly contradicts what we, and many other SEO professionals, have been saying for some time now.
So here it is: About 2 years ago Google announced that they would collaborate with Adobe to develop a way to read text from a Flash website, more specifically a SWF file. Then in June of 2009, Google announced that they had made strides with reading and understanding external files that are loaded into Flash. The more complex Flash files are built in layers, and sometimes the text in these layers is loaded only when needed. In June 2009, Google announced they were able to read these externally loaded text layers.
On November 11, 2010 Google finally announced that their index was able to read and understand almost all the text in any SWF file built with Flash 10.1 or greater.
This is indeed a huge leap forward for websites. We can no longer adamantly say that Flash websites will kill your search engine ranking.
Or at least that's the hope.
Honestly, since June 2008 when Google made the first announcement that they could partially read SWF files, we've been watching closely. We've documented several cases of jewelry websites that converted to Flash sites when they originally had dozens and even hundreds of pages. We presented our findings during our live events, and in every case, Google cleaned out their index for the jewelry website, leaving only a single home page with an SWF file.
In every case we tracked so far we've never seen any evidence of Google's ability to read into the SWF.
We are hopeful that some time in the future Google, Apple and Adobe will all play nice together, but we just don't see it happening overnight.
In the meantime according to comScore.com, in the USA there are 11.7 million users of Apple's iPhones and 19.1 million users of older Blackberry phones. These people still can't view Flash websites.
We still don't view a Flash website as a viable option for business owners that are serious about online marketing. But opinions can change given the proof. We'll let you know as soon as we have some.