Google announces end to Flash indexing

Posted on October 31, 2019


Google has recently announced that it will stop ranking and indexing Flash content within its search engine.

This will mean that the company will no longer be processing content lying within a Flash SWF file, whether that is on a website that has been fully designed within Flash, or just a web page that contains some Flash files.

Flash was first released by Adobe in 1996 and was done as a way to produce richer content online and on a computer. During the late 1990s, Flash was extremely popular for web publishing, but as we go deeper into the millennium, fewer browsers are now supporting it.

Google first started to crawl Flash files 11 years ago in 2008 but as the search engine evolved and became more sophisticated and intelligent, it had to change the way it indexed Flash SWF files, but it never ranked the content within these files in the best way.

Google made this announcement in a blog post on Monday, entitled “Goodbye, Flash”. In this post, the company explained this was the end of an era. The post stated that Google Search will begin to ignore Flash content, and stop indexing SWF files, meaning that content within Flash sites or elements of Flash pages will no longer be ranked or indexed.

Whilst this may seem like an out of the blue decision, Google highlighted that Chrome disables Flash by default from version 76 onwards. This is also the case for Firefox (version 69 onwards) and Microsoft Edge. Apple does not support it either, starting from when iPhones were introduced in 2007.

Google has said that websites and users will see minimal, if any, impact from the change. However, if your website, or parts of its content are in Flash and it is important that it ranks for traffic and sales reasons, then it is advised to either update your site or to stop using Flash in the future.

As an alternative, Google has said it is best to start looking at HTML5 and newer versions of JavaScript. Flash will stop being indexed by the end of the year.

Alan Littler
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