It was announced that Flash content and SWF files are now searchable by Google and Yahoo searching crawlers. This has yet to be really tested but it is good news that flash sites with textual content will be able to be searched like normal websites. This knocks down a bit the “black box” approach to content when it is in flash rather than a HTML/XHTML based website.
Google has been developing a new algorithm for indexing textual content in Flash files of all kinds, from Flash menus, buttons and banners, to self-contained Flash websites. Recently, we’ve improved the performance of this Flash indexing algorithm by integrating Adobe’s Flash Player technology.
In the past, web designers faced challenges if they chose to develop a site in Flash because the content they included was not indexable by search engines. They needed to make extra effort to ensure that their content was also presented in another way that search engines could find.
Now that we’ve launched our Flash indexing algorithm, web designers can expect improved visibility of their published Flash content, and you can expect to see better search results and snippets. There’s more info on the Webmaster Central blog about the Searchable SWF integration.
I imagine that it is still more difficult to index flash content and this opens questions as to what is searched and how as content can be loaded in dynamically and some content might be overly verbose that should not be indexed such as code. Also, the placement of text matters on a regular website so I imagine that it also matters according to what content is in a flash SWF file.
It will be interesting to hear how this evolves but as of right now it is good news that content in flash is searchable. The format is now open and this is probably why the capability is now possible as there aren’t any fees to using the format. So expect more accessibiliy from flash as time goes on like this.