Matt Cutts on how you can help Googlebot "see" your Flash content.

Matt Cutts of Google talks about the importance of Adobe's Search Engine SDK for making your Flash content more spider friendly

Over the past year, there has been a lot of talk about the best way to handle Flash on your site. I previously covered quite a few aspects about this heavily-debated topic in Flash Alternatives Blessed by Google and in Progressive Enhancement is Good for SEO. In my previous interview with Maile Ohye, Google's support engineer I had asked her about Google's view on Flash. Maile confirmed that Google looks at the content within "noscript" tags, but she advised to be careful to mirror accurately the Flash-based content you include within the noscript tags or it will look like cloaking to Googlebot.

In my recent interview with Matt Cutts, Google engineer and head of their webspam team, I questioned as to the status of Google reading textual content within Flash .swf files. Here's what Matt had to say:

"It is a good question. I think that we do a pretty good job of reading textual content. Now, stuff within Flash is binary and you can define it in terms of characters and strokes - so you can have things that look like normal text - but that are completely weird and are not really normal text. So it can be difficult to pull the text out a Flash file. I think we do pretty well. It used to be the case that we had our own, home-brew code to pull the text out of Flash, but I think that we have moved to the Search Engine SDK tool that Adobe/Macromedia offers. So, my hunch is that most of the search engines will standardize on using that Search Engine SDK tool to pull out the text. The easiest way to know whether you have textual content that can be read in a Flash file, is that you could always use that tool yourself and verify as well."

Not only did Matt suggest that Flash users take advantage of the search engine SDK tool, he also confirmed that Google is hoping to standardize it and work with Adobe to continue updating it.

So there you have it. If you use Flash on your website, you owe it to yourself to use the Search Engine SDK tool to gain insight into how Google "sees" your Flash content. If the Search Engine SDK tool is used by Google, why shouldn't you?

For more great advice courtesy of Matt Cutts, I invite you to either read the transcript of my interview with Google's Matt Cutts at Pubcon or you can listen to the Matt Cutts at Pubcon interview podcast (31 minutes, 3.8 MB).

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