July 01, 2008

Google Can Now Read Flash? Don't Jump for Joy Yet

By Li Evans

Adobe_flash_logo Last night the Official Google Blog, the Google Webmaster Central Blog, Adobe and even Matt Cutts all  announced that the Google's crawlers can now crawl and read the Adobe SWF files, just like it crawls and reads regular website pages.  Matt Cutt's talked about this a while back, but apparently the improvements announced are even better for flash sites.

I still raise my eyebrow though, call me a pessimist in this department.   Inherently Flash itself still has optimization drawbacks. So Google's saying they can crawl buttons, urls, etc. in Flash, but that doesn't mean that Flash offers the best way to be optimized for the content you are trying to present.  Some of the key indicators to what your page is about are still missing in Flash, especially for sites that are completely done in Flash.

URLs in Flash - Hashmarks?
I'm going to guess that the algorithm is going to make the assumption that each page in the flash file that is navigated to by a hash mark (#), as it's own page?   OK fine, but is that different than how it treats regular html pages who use the < a name="example" > and hash mark for easier pagination?

What About Title Tags and Descriptions?

Sites that run in entirely in Flash, every page has the same title tag.  That's because the SWF file sits within the "index" (or main loading URL page), and never moves.  Take a look at Nike.com if you want a perfect example of this.  Title tag never changes, each "page" is changed with the hash marks, it all runs off the index page that Nike has set aside for running the SWF file.

Along with the Title tag not changing, neither does the description.  We all know the description meta tag does nothing in the way of weighing a page's relevance, but it does factor in, in the presentation in the results.  Now, with flash sites, Google's going to take snippets of text from the "page" it sees within the SWF file and present that as a description.  How many Flash sites have you seen with optimized content - that made sense on its pages?

Hierarchical Tagging
Forget H1 through H6 tags to  structure your content on your web pages in Flash.  That's non-existent.  So how does Google know what you are really doing with your content on that page?  What's the most important?  Is there a general theme and components to that theme going on in the page?  Sure - visually you can probably tell that in Flash, but the spider can't see that you've got fonts bigger than the text to delineate the difference.

Forget About Movies & Images

Since Flash embeds them into playing in their own structure, Google can't read it.  So you've created this kick butt  product demonstration complete words that tell the consumer everything, right?  Think Google's going to find that now and put that into its index and rank it number 1 for whatever its demonstrating?  Think again, Google can only look at text that's in the SWF file.  Same goes for the images you embed in your SWF file, and while it can crawl buttons, it can read the button if its completely an image.

While, Google (and soon Yahoo! too) are going to be reading SWF files and incorporating them into their index, it doesn't mean you are going to rank any better than your competition who has an html page.  Why?  Because basically, you are just essentially handing Google a .txt file full of words and pointers to urls for those words. 

It's kind of like, showing someone a line drawing compared to a full color photograph of something you're trying to demonstrate, with the site being entirely done in Flash being the line drawing (ironic, no?). 

I don't know about you, but I'm still going to advise my clients to go with the "color photograph", that utilizes Flash elements, rather than the line drawing.

October 25, 2007

Google's NoFollow & Small Business Websites

By Li Evans

Stopnofollowtag What gets me about this whole "nofollow", Paid Links & Google nonsense is the fact that not anywhere is it stated in Google's TOS or Google's Webmaster Guidelines about "nofollow".  So, let me ask you - how is a Mom & Pop type of small business just starting out on the web, suppose to know what the bleeping heck a "nofollow" is or what it means, if it isn't easily found on Google's own pages?    If Google hasn't even defined nofollow in their TOS, TOS highlights or their Guidelines, how in the world can anyone who's not an SEO understand what in heck they did wrong or why all of a sudden their rankings dropped? 

I remember sitting in the front row of a session at one of the SES's when both Yahoo and Google reps introduced NoFollow.  NoFollow was about TRUST.  It was suppose to help deter blog & forum spam links that webmasters could not "vouch" for and didn't want to give credit to.  NoFollow was not about ads or paid links or all the rest of this nonsense. 

Continue reading "Google's NoFollow & Small Business Websites" »

May 22, 2007

Yahoo! Search Index Update Happening Tonight 5/22

By Li Evans

Later this evening (Pacific Time), Yahoo's planning an update to their index.  According to Tim Mayer who was Danny's guest on Daily Search Cast today, there shouldn't be too much changing!  But just a heads up for the community.

October 24, 2006

Yahoo! Launches Support for NOODP

By Li Evans

Yahoosearchblog As announced by Tim Mayer of Yahoo on Barry Schwartz's Search Pulse program, Yahoo announced tonight it was finally implementing the NOODP tag

According to the posting out on the Yahoo! Search Blog they will will recognize the following META tags on web pages:

META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOODP"

or 

META NAME="Slurp" CONTENT="NOODP"

Now if we could only get Yahoo! to accept/implement a NOYAHOODIRECTORY tag - life would be grand in the Search World. :)

October 11, 2006

Search Engine Weather Reports

By Li Evans

Search Engine "Weather Reports" from both Yahoo! and Google (via Matt Cutts).

  • Yahoo rolled out an index update last night
  • Google's been busy
    • Page Rank export
    • Crawler updates
    • Site: operator update
    • Infrastructure updates
    • Quality result updates

August 03, 2006

Yahoo! Weather Update: New Slurp Crawler

By Li Evans

Have you seen a drop in the requests of bandwidth from Slurp?  (Slurp's Yahoo!'s indexing website crawler that visits websites and brings back the information to Yahoo!)  Well not to worry, Yahhoo!'s recently done an update of the search engine crawler.

The engineers over at Yahoo! have worked their magic and programmed the new version of the crawler to take up 25% less on its bandwidth requests.  They are also warning the SEO Community "With this change of behavior in the crawler, you may see some shuffling of the pages that are included in the index and some changes in ranking as well."

Yahoo! was running both their old version of the Slurp crawler and the new one at the same time up until July 28th, when they turned off the old version - so if you see significant changes in your website(s) on Yahoo!, sit tight and wait for things to shake out from this recent weather update.

Check out the Yahoo! Weather report on the Official Yahoo! Search Blog

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