Better later than never: Adobe makes effort to have Flash index in search engines

Flash designers all over are jumping for joy, thinking they’ll no longer have to build dual sites so that their clients don’t get ignored by Google, with this announcement from Adobe. But, read my comments after the blockquote to fully understand what this means for your business:

Adobe Advances Rich Media Search on the Web
“Until now it has been extremely challenging to search the millions of RIAs and dynamic content on the Web, so we are leading the charge in improving search of content that runs in Adobe Flash Player,” said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president of the Platform Business Unit at Adobe. “We are initially working with Google and Yahoo! to significantly improve search of this rich content on the Web, and we intend to broaden the availability of this capability to benefit all content publishers, developers and end users.”

Google has already begun to roll out Adobe Flash Player technology incorporated into its search engine. With Adobe’s help, Google can now better read the content on sites that use Adobe Flash technology, helping users find more relevant information when conducting searches. As a result, millions of pre-existing RIAs and dynamic Web experiences that utilize Adobe Flash technology, including content that loads at runtime, are immediately searchable without the need for companies and developers to alter them.

“Google has been working hard to improve how we can read and discover SWF files,” said Bill Coughran, senior vice president of engineering at Google. “Through our recent collaboration with Adobe, we now help Web site owners that choose to design sites with Adobe Flash software by indexing this content better. Improving how we crawl dynamic content will ultimately enhance the search experience for our users.”…

“Designers and Web developers have long been frustrated that search engines couldn’t better access the information within their content created with Flash technology. It’s great to see Adobe and the search engines working directly together to improve the situation,” said Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief, “The changes should help unlock information that’s previously been ‘invisible’ and will likely result in a better experience for searchers.”

But there are many reasons not to get that excited, especially for small businesses, and here is why:

Flash is generally dependent on screen size- ie- it’s built to run on a standard computer screen- of a certain size. If you want it to work on a cell phone (and right now- it still doesn’t work on the iPhone) you have to build your files for each screen size.

Updating and creating content in Flash requires the Flash software- and the smarts to use it. Unless your Flash designer builds a database driven site- with a browser access portal, you are going to continue to pay out the yang to update and change your site. I don’t know what the percentage is of DB driven flash sites, but from my travels on the web- it’s pretty small.

Even if the site is built using a database, and works on all screens, and manages to meet all ADA and W3C standards for accessibility, it’s ability to interact with Google and play with other sites through social tools is nascent. It’s like getting on the web 2.0 bandwagon 4 years too late.

If you have a huge budget for a website and you like to keep your web monkeys in bananas, Flash may be the tool for you in about a year or two. However if you want the fastest, easiest, most compliant solution that puts your company in charge of your website without a web monkey, look to the many Open Source Content Managers that can have you up and running and indexed by Google today.

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Why Google is so important for your business

Yes, I know you aren’t Apple, or have a product like the iPhone, but if someone wants your product, they’ll turn to Google. This short article summing up what kind of numbers a hot product can generate and how Google is the only one that matters:

MacNN | iPhone generates 7m US searches in April
the iPhone generated huge traffic for internet search engines in April. ComScore, which provides market research for advertisers, says 1.3 million Americans conducted 6.9 million iPhone-related searches in April. The word “iPhone” was the most popular term, with nearly 1.5 million searches, followed by “iPhone 2.0” and “iPhone 3G.” The vast majority of those seaches — 88.4 percent — went to Google, Yahoo got about 7 percent, with MSN getting less than 3 percent.

Those searches generated a lot of traffic for Apple, which attracted 17.5 percent of search click-thrus. Of that number, about 17 percent were the result of “paid” searches, the rest were “organic” searches. Google’s You Tube and various blogger sites garnered about 9 percent of the total click-thrus, followed by NetShelter Technology Media at about 8.5 percent. NetShelter owns several iPhone-specific sites. The data were collected using comScore Marketer software.

“Search is frequently a harbinger of purchase intent,” said Dan Lackner, Senior VP of comScore. “The increase in volume of iPhone searches demonstrates just how heavy that interest has been for the next generation of Apple’s popular phone — even when its existence was still just a rumor.”

As if it needs repeating: “88.4 percent — went to Google, Yahoo got about 7 percent, with MSN getting less than 3 percent.” Optimizing for Google isn’t optional.

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Categories and Tags: what to use

Someone said on the hackers forum: “The analogy I use is that Categories are like a book’s table of contents, and Tags like its index.”

However, be aware that categories that are actual search terms are very strong Google magnets.

So, instead of using a category “lines we carry” think about “High Performance Motorcycles in Dayton OH”  and then use tags to highlight the brands and product names.

Tags are ways to identify the keywords or concepts in each post- categories group the posts in ways that make sense for others. Lately, Google has started dinging sites for putting a single post in more than three categories (which is too bad)- so think carefully about your choice of categories.

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