Flash search engine experiment – the results – updated again

We’re now three days into my little experiment, and it seem the three most important search engines have found the page I created. Here are the results I’ve been able to gather so far…

TestGoogleYahooLive search
Page indexed?yesyesyes
Static textyes!nono
Dynamic text through ASnonono
Dynamic text form external filenonono
Actionscript string variablenonono
Extra var in external filenonono

Things are looking rather grim. Although the page containing the swf file has been indexed by all three major search engines, none of it’s contents are turning up. This surprises me. Other movies on my site have had their static contents indexed, so why not this one? Perhaps indexing an swf requires more processing time and this one’s in some kind of queue waiting to be processed? I’ll keep checking to see if any of my fantasy words turn up.

To rule our any embedding code related weirdness, I’ll post the movie again here using SWFObject. Most of my movies that are currently in Google’s index use this method. I used a simpler one in the original experiment because I thought that would improve things. Apparently not.

Flash Player7 or better is required to view this.

I noticed that Google came by and indexed this post, again without touching the swf. Since this experiment is not about getting the swf file indexed, I’m just going to link to it from here and add it to Google’s indexing queue. I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE2 – Finally, some real results!
Google has indexed the flash movie. The short description is “[fake word] static text field dynamic text field, content set through actionscript dynamic text field, content loaded from text file.” So that’s all the static text in the movie. I updated the table to reflect this and manually added the swf file’s path to Yahoo and to Live (which would only let me add the root url for some reason). Let’s see what they make of it.

Another thing I noticed is that the SERP links to the swf file, not the containing page. This means users will see the movie without context, probably at the wrong size and without any parameters the html page passes to it (so-called flashvars). So even if your movie is indexed, it’s still pretty much useless.

Roy | March 9, 2007 | English,Flash,SEO | Comments (8)


  1. This is really interesting stuff! Keep it up!

    Are you familiar with Google’s new webmaster tools? They give you a little more information about the status of indexed content. The tools work best if you upload a sitemap.xml, but that will probably defeat the purpose of your experiments.


    Comment by Brian — March 14, 2007 @ 8:54 pm

  2. Yeah I know about Webmaster tools. None of my fake words are showing up in the “page analysis” but then they’re probably not considered ‘common words’. I’ve also set a Google Alert for the most likely word, so the moment Google unravels this movie I’ll be the first to know…

    I use the WordPress sitemap plugin on this blog, but the xml it generates doesn’t include files, just links to each post. And I already know the page has been indexed.

    Comment by Roy — March 14, 2007 @ 9:27 pm

  3. Interesting results. I’ve been working lately with SEO & Flash a lot and SE just don’t like Flash. I tried almost anything. My recommendation to the client was to turn the flash website into static text. Flash en SEO just cannot go hand in hand. But… I’ve been testing some stuff too and I’ll put it up soon on my blog. I’m looking forward to your results.

    Btw, it might take a week before you see any results in the SERPs. Untill then, just wait for Google Alerts.

    Comment by TruFu — March 14, 2007 @ 10:35 pm

  4. Hi TruFu. Do you mean the swf might take an additional week when the page has already been indexed? Isn’t that weird? Oh and did you read my original post about Flash and SEO? I was wondering whether you’ve considered any of the approaches I described, or even tried them?

    Comment by Roy — March 15, 2007 @ 11:10 am

  5. Yes, I have read that post. I also used SWFObject to test stuff, but also other stuff. Now I’m justing waiting for the results, so it might take a while before I blog stuff about it.

    Comment by TruFu — March 18, 2007 @ 5:36 am

  6. Oops, I contaminated my own experiment by posting the first secret word above. MSN/Live and were quick to index it. Guess that proves they were unable to read it from the flash.

    Comment by Roy — March 19, 2007 @ 9:20 am

  7. Correct, Google cannot read Flash. I’m not sure about other search engines but I don’t think administrators consider it worth the CPU footprint to delve into Flash files to extract text. I believe there are sneaky (and not so sneaky) ways to obscure text in Flash files which could be used for black hat SEO.

    The world is better off without Flash files in search engines, I think.

    Comment by Brian — March 27, 2007 @ 8:41 pm

  8. Interesting stuff,

    “Another thing I noticed is that the SERP links to the swf file, not the containing page”

    To make sure the containing page is opened you can always use actionscript in the swf.


    Comment by Freak — August 27, 2008 @ 9:10 pm