Adobe announced today that they were delivering a special optimized Flash player for search robots, allowing search engines like Google and Yahoo to index not just a page’s non-Flash content, not just the content of the static data already indexed within a Flash movie, but the entire contents of each path taken throughout the Flash interface, entirely:

Adobe has provided Flash Player technology to Google and Yahoo! that allows their search spiders to navigate through a live SWF application as if they were virtual users. The Flash Player technology, optimized for search spiders, runs an SWF file similarly to how the file would run in Adobe Flash Player in the browser, yet it returns all of the text and links that occur at any state of the application back to the search spider, which then appears in search results to the end user.

This is an interesting approach that will really change the game for a lot of rich internet application providers. Anyone developing applications on the Flex platform knows that lacking the ability to make their dynamic content indexable is an IMMENSE drawback, especially when so much traffic is driven by search engines now. This changes the game. More on how, after the jump.

I have to assume that controls put in place that require authentication or certain user level access will still keep the search engines out and that not ALL dynamic content is made immediately available, though I wonder if you’ll be able to specify a “search engine user” to tailor the nature of the content to the search engine and to use it to effectively “robots.txt” opt-out the search engine from certain parts of your Flash application.

Either way, this is news Flex/Flash application developers have definitely been looking forward to for some time. Adobe has started by pushing this out to Yahoo! and Google initially and Google is already pushing indexed results, while Yahoo! still has “some work to do.” What’s more, absolutely no developer intervention is required and no changes are necessary on your SWFs in order to allow them to be indexed; since the service works from the player’s perspective, it works with all existing Flash files in all versions.

SWF searchability FAQ [Flash Developer Center]

Posted in: Cool Stuff