23 Jun 2009

Advancements in Search: External Resource Indexing

Google recently (well Friday to be exact) announced they are now able to index sites scripted with "AS1 and AS2 even if the ActionScript is obfuscated….we index sites with AS3 as well". Prior to this launch, results did not appear because all of the relevant content is contained in an XML file loaded by an SWF file. The XML file is not part of the page. In the past, unless it was in the page it didn’t get indexed. Now external files can get indexed too. 

I’ve seen a direct need for this with article marketing. In the past we’ve discussed a little bit about our article marketing service. The sites we utilize here at Vertical Measures are SWF file based, liked Scribd.com. More and more sites are popping up just like it using SWF files. I’ve noticed that Google has a hard time caching these pages, but regardless, these documents still get indexed pretty quickly (and maintain good rankings), and that’s without the recent additions to Google’s algorithms. I can only imagine what it will do for these sites in the future.

Google has been updating their algorithms with Flash for a bit now, and many in the industry are cautious. We’ve always been taught that flash is bad for "indexability", and some experts think it’s already overused as it is. Many warn that this may not be the right road for Google, but in my opinion any changes to improve "indexability" are good changes – so long as usability is not affected.

After reading Google’s blog post announcing this change, I started thinking about Twitter’s search function. Links within tweets should soon be indexed, as expressed in an article earlier this year. Indexing external resources and links is becoming a requirement for search usability, and Google obviously isn’t the only platform trying to stay current.