Archive for July, 2008

Google is not indexing your dynamic content in Flex or Flash

It’s a pretty shocking title with all the fuss about the new flash player for Google and Yahoo, but I will try to explain why I came to this conclusion. I suggest you read about the seven test cases I did because that’s mostly what my reasoning is built on. I am going to explain point by point what happened in the experiment.

My first test case was simply to put static text right on the first frame of the swf file. That’s all this flash file contained. If you search in Google for the unique expression contained in that static text, you will find the specific html embedding the swf, meaning that the content was indexed.

The second test case was similar to the first one except that instead of being a static textfield on the stage, it’s a prefilled dynamic textfield (meaning the text in the textfield was added using the Flash IDE not ActionScript). Again for this case if you search the unique expression, the good html page will come up (As for the first case, you see in the description in Google for that link the extract of text containing the expression furthermore proving that the content was indexed).

The third test case was also a dynamic textfield, but the text in it was added using ActionScript. The page is indexed in Google (do a search for ‘site:www.fleximagically-searchable.com “fleximagically searchable”‘ and click “repeat the search with the omitted results included” at the bottom of the page to see all test case indexed) but the content doesn’t show in the description of the link. Also if you did a search for the unique expression nothing relevant would come up.

The fourth test case, the last done in Flash, was a static textfield inside a Sprite added to the stage using ActionScript. Again for this case the html page is indexed, but none of the Flash content is.

The fifth test case, as all of the next test cases, was done in Flex, it’s a TextArea component in mxml filled with the text attribute in the mxml, so no ActionScript involved. In this case, if you search for the unique expression you will see that the content inside the swf is indexed, proof that some content in Flex can be indexed.

The sixth test case is a Label component in mxml filled with the text attribute int the mxml. In this case, the content didn’t show up on Google, so I guess not all components are indexable.

Lastly, the seventh test case is a Text component in mxml filled with content using the text attribute in the mxml. I think this case is really similar to the second test case; a dynamic textfield in Flash prefilled with content. In this case, the content showed up on Google, so the swf was indexed.

My conclusion

From this SEO experiment, we see that static textfields on the timeline, prefilled dynamic textfields and some basic Flex components (TextArea, Text) in mxml are indexed by Google. It seems to me that as soon as there is ActionScript involved to change the content, that content will not be indexed. If you look back a bit, you kinda see that Google doesn’t use any new Flash player to index swf files, it does what it always was doing; nothing new. If somebody has a proof of dynamic content being indexed by the new player I’d be glad to see it, but for now I am assuming that Google is not using the new player given by Adobe.

This brings us to the Flex Seo contest, where my Fleximagically Searchable entry is performing well, but my content is not indexed. My take is that this contest will be pretty hard to win. There might still be possibilities to make this work but I think they are a bit too far fetched. Here is what I think might still have some chances: I did all my experiments with ActionScript 3 and I believe from the results that you cannot win using ActionScript 3. Where there could still be some opportunities would be if the swf generated would be using ActionScript 2 (which would use the flash player virtual machine 1), so in order to win the contest, you would have to build your Flex application in Flex 1.5 or even before. This would mean that the new special flash player for Google would only work for Flash 8 and below. I really hope it is not the case and that it is just that Google is not using the special player yet.

Another way to win would be that Google roll out the new player before September which is the ending date of the contest. Let’s hope they do so!

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Flex SEO Contest; I’m running out of titles

All my latest post have been about the Flex SEO contest, I’m sorry for those that don’t have interest in it, but I find it very challenging and fun.

From all the information that I have gathered from the web I have new insights about how to win this contest. If I was one of the other contestant of the contest I’d be sure to read my blog because I am giving info about how to win this contest all the time.

There are two major facts you have to know. First Google doesn’t index flash files that are embedded using JavaScript (I got this from different sources and Google itself). They are planning to do it, but it’s not implemented yet. So if you want to have a shot at winning, start by embedding your flash the old fashion way with embed/object tags. Secondly, even if the special flash player is able to read data from external source (XML, server side scripts, loaded SWF), Google is not indexing those as a part of the swf file. So you’ll have to use a different way to load your dynamic content (that doesn’t leave so many possibilities).

Another interesting fact is that for searches with the filetype swf (filetype:swf) Google is giving some importance to the url and the filename of the swf file. So if I really wanted to make things right, I would rename my Flex application for the contest fleximagically-searchable.swf, but I’ll wait until my content is indexed.

So in the light of these facts, I have modified my fleximagically searchable Flex application, go and have a look, it’s a so exciting application.

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Converting this contest into a SEO experiment

From previous posts you know that I am participating in the Flex SEO contest. I got my page pretty high on Google, but it still doesn’t seem to be finding my content. There are still a lot of unknown about this new SEO technology that Adobe, Google and Yahoo worked on and I think that to make a Flex application that load the content dynamically is to go a bit too fast.

So with that in mind I made simpler swf files. I even made some using Flash to see what would get indexed and how. In each of my experiments I have included a unique search expression basically formed from Fleximagically Searchable plus another word. If you search Google with that expression and one of my experiment shows up, it means Google indexed the content. Here are my experiments:

Flash:

We don’t even know what type of swf is or is not indexed by Google so I sat down down and I made the simplest ones. Since Flex is pretty complex, I made some files using Flash.

The first one is only a static textfield right on the timeline. we know Google used to index those files, let’s see how it does it.

http://www.fleximagically-searchable.com/fleximagically-searchable-v1/

The second one is still in Flash using a prefilled dynamic textfield.

http://www.fleximagically-searchable.com/fleximagically-searchable-v2/

The third one is using a dynamic textfield again filled using ActionScript.

http://www.fleximagically-searchable.com/fleximagically-searchable-v3/

The fourth one is using a static textfield added to the stage using ActionScript.

http://www.fleximagically-searchable.com/fleximagically-searchable-v4/

Flex:

Since we don’t know if Flex files get indexed at all, I made three simple experiments using basic components: TextArea, Label, Text. In those experiments the content is filled using the text attribute in the MXML file.

Flex file using TextArea.

http://www.fleximagically-searchable.com/fleximagically-searchable-v5/

Flex file using Label.

http://www.fleximagically-searchable.com/fleximagically-searchable-v6/

Flex file using Text.

http://www.fleximagically-searchable.com/fleximagically-searchable-v7/

Now let’s wait for Google to crawl these pages and then we will be able to better understand how this all works.

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More on the Flex SEO contest

If you have been following this blog, you know that I entered the contest to get a Flex application on the top of Google for the words “Fleximagically Searchable”. The next logic step was for me to add deep-linking to my application, but it’s not what I am going to do. Why you could ask? Because even if the webpage for my application is appearing on Google, the content itself doesn’t seem to be included. So there is no meaning of implementing deep-linking if my content won’t be found.

There have been rumors around the fact the Google would not reference website that use javascript to embed the flash file. Peter Elst seems to think the contrary but I think it is worth a try. I was previously using SWFObject to embed my swf because I had in mind to use SWFAddress for the deep-linking, but now if you do a view source of my Fleximagically Searchable application you will see that I am using the good old Object and Embed tags. Let’s see what Google think of the new page.

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Update on the SEO contest

I have set my self up for Flex application development and thanks to this post about how to use Flash Develop and Flex, I was able to do so quickly.

Yesterday I had simply created the HTML pages that would hold my application, today I created the application itself. It is quite a simple application and it is clearly a Flex one because of the skin of the components ( a button and a textarea). This will serve as a base for what is to come. The next step is to create the deep-linking. It has already some kind of deep-linking in the sense that you can go directly to this Fleximagically Searchable page. This page loads exactly the same swf than the page at the root of the domain, but I pass it a variable using SWFObject to tell it to load the content. If Google find any searchable content in any of those two pages, it means it comes from the dynamically loaded content because I removed everything in the HTML code except for the title of the page.

From what I did yesterday I am already getting some results, the new domain name I bought is scoring a ten (it is the tenth page for the term Fleximagically Searchable) and all the pages before it are blog posts (including one from this blog) that will not count in the contest so I guess I have my chances. Let’s see how it all evolves.

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I will participate to the Flex SEO contest

When I saw Ryan Stewart post about the Flex SEO contest this morning, I could not wait to get home to start working on this. The trouble is: we are currently working really hard to get a project out and I don’t really have time… There is always ways to find time, but taking crystal meth is not the best one. Since this is something I really do well I think I am going to put some energy into this.

I have written some SEO post in the past and I am way better at programming Flash then Flex but Ryan mentioned the possibility to win a pass for MAX, the Adobe conference, which I would really like to attend, so I think this is worth it. The goal of the contest is to create a Flex application that Google will index as the first link for the search terms : fleximagically searchable.

In order to do this I bought a domain name which has some advantages and some disadvantages. The domain name is http://www.fleximagically-searchable.com. Well the advantages are quite obvious, the domain name contain the search terms. This domain name also has a disadvantage, since it’s a new domain name, Google will sandbox it, meaning that it won’t be really searchable until about 6 months. You’ll be able to find it if you enter the exact address in Google, but it won’t have much weight against older site. I think I might try this on another domain name that I possess and is out of the Google sandbox, but for now, I’ll just try with this one.

Right now there isn’t much on the website but I will soon put the flex application there. I wanted to create the pages and this post now because the age of a page is one of the factor that Google uses to rank pages.

I find the rules for the contest not so clear, I don’t really now what I can and what I can’t do, but I’ll try stuff and we will see what happens.  I will keep you posted on this.

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