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Will Google read my Flash-based website?

Asked by , Edited by Cheryl Thimmer

I build a lot of websites in Flash. They’re very pretty. :) Am I doing a disservice to my clients when it comes to being ranked well?

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1 answer



For years, no search engine spiders could read Flash websites.

Today, Google can read Flash websites:

Google can now discover and index text content in SWF files of all kinds, including self-contained Flash websites and Flash gadgets such as buttons or menus. This includes all textual content visible to the user. Google supports common JavaScript techniques. In addition, we can now find and follow URLs embedded in Flash files. We’ll crawl and index this content in the same way that we crawl and index other content on your site—you don’t need to take any special action. However, we don’t guarantee that we’ll crawl or index all the content, Flash or otherwise.
Note the last sentence in bold.

In addition, while Google can read Flash-based websites I doubt that any other search engine can read Flash-based websites.

One other suggestion that Google provides that I thought was useful:
You could also consider using sIFR (Scalable Inman Flash Replacement). sIFR (an open-source project) lets webmasters replace text elements with Flash equivalents. Using this technique, content and navigation is displayed by an embedded Flash object but, because the content is contained in the HTML source, it can be read by non-Flash users (including search engines).

NN comments

Remember that even if Google can read flash, sites that use flash instead of HTML will usually get a worse ranking than sites that use HTML with well written HTML semantic. Not to mention that flash sites are slower to load and Google take speed into account when ranking sites. My take: avoid flash for everything except for games and videos.

Great point. I forgot to mention in my answer that I’d never personally build a site in flash that I wanted to be highly ranked.

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