One of the weakness of Flash was the fact that search engines did not index SWF very well. This “missing link” was that indexing SWF was not easily possible. In the past only static textand links were indexed but to be honest – no serious Flash application works with static content. The problem was how to access the dynamic content because all Flash apps are coded differently and use trillions of different techniques to load external data. So the only one who can access all parts of a SWF is the Flash Player itself. For that reason Adobe developed a special headless version which runs on the server.
“So what we’ve done is to enable the search engines to actually run the app just as an end user would. They can not only run it and see the information that’s displayed, including data dynamically loaded from the network, but can interact with it as well, pressing on buttons and links to interact with the app and explore all of is content.
To enable this we have created a special version of the Flash player that is designed to run on the server as part of the indexing process. As the code executes, there are special API that notify the search engine when something changes and that allow inspection of the textual and other data that would be displayed to the user.
There are other API that enumerate links and allow the indexer to instruct the player to simulate a “click” on various objects that are displayed. In this way, the indexer can navigate the running app.”
This new technology was developed together search industry leaders Google and Yahoo! and Google is rolling out this today! The nice thing is that SWFs do not have to be changed so all existing SWFs are ready to be indexed.
“All of this is going on now! Google is already in progress with spidering SWF content through the new system. Over the next weeks and months, you should see some pretty significant impact on the indicies as SWF content is made a first-class citizen for searchability”
- Adobe announcement
- SWF searchability FAQ
- Google Webmaster Central Blog
- Doug McCune comes with a scientific graphical explanation