Last month, Google announced that they were significantly improving their flash spidering. This would seem to be good news for our clients whose sites depend on animation. Indeed, initial research showed that embedded flash files were being indexed.
Our preferred method, inserting via SWFObject, was not. SWFObject is already a means of providing optimized content to search engines and text-only (mobile) browsers. We use this method because flash banners are often in place of page headings and navigation, some of the most important elements for users and search engines. SWFObject allowed us to present the same content in static form to search engines, so that there wouldn’t be a disconnect between how a person used the site, and how a search engine saw the site.
Google quickly fixed this, though, due to feedback from their users. Now google is indexing either the SWF file, or the alternate content. presumably the alternate content is preferred, but more research is needed to be sure.
Fundamentally, though, it will still be better to serve alternate content. Navigation elements and Logos are often heavily modified to make them pop visually, which requires breaking the text into curves. If they’re not text, it’s safe to assume that Google can’t see them. Regardless of search engines, it’s important to have your content available to the growing numbers of mobile(*cough*iPhone*cough*) users, most of whom don’t have flash.