Google To Completely Ignore Flash Content And Stop Indexing SWF Files

The era of Flash, a multimedia platform that lent colorful animation and graphics to otherwise mundane text-based websites will soon be completely ignored by Google. The search giant has confirmed that its algorithms have been instructed to ignore all Flash content, which mostly includes files with .SWF extension. Flash has been increasingly sidetracked by the majority of the popular web browsers, including Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Google’s own Chrome. However, with Flash being ignored completely while websites are being indexed, might be the final straw for the multimedia standard that once dominated the internet.

Google Search Indexing Algorithms Will Ignore Flash Content On All Websites Starting This Year Itself:

Google has confirmed that it will stop indexing Flash content this year. This basically means the algorithms that crawl through the internet, indexing and cataloging the websites and their content, will ignore any and all content that’s driven on Flash. Simply put, if a website being indexed is found to contain Flash Content, Google’s algorithms will ignore the same completely. The algorithms will index the website and other content, but treat Flash-based content as non-existent or invisible.

“Flash was the answer to the boring static web, with rich animations, media, and actions. It was a prolific technology that inspired many new content creators on the web. It was everywhere. The Flash runtime, which plays Flash content, was installed 500 million times in the second half of 2013,” observed Google on its official Webmaster Central Blog.

Adobe Flash, a highly popular platform has allowed websites to deploy a lot of multimedia content. The Flash content was usually contained within files or containers with .SWF file extension. While Flash-content doesn’t require a lot of bandwidth, there have been several instances wherein websites deployed very-heavy Flash files.

The end of Flash has been gradually coming for quite some time. Flash is disabled by default in the Google Chrome web browser starting in version 76. Microsoft Edge browser too doesn’t enable Flash by default, and the Firefox browser, starting with version 69 has actively stopped Flash from being loaded automatically. All these browsers, even in their latest versions, do support Flash. In other words, Flash-based content can still load and work. However, these popular browsers need user permission to switch-on Flash-based content.

While websites can still deploy Flash-based content, its important and efficacy will drop significantly owing to the changing policy and perception of Google Search about Flash. Simply put, given the changing scenario, it is quite likely that an increasing number of websites will quickly abandon Flash-content, and may even strip their websites of any such content as it will not have any positive impact on their Google Search results, which are affected by the indexing algorithms.

Will Google Penalize Websites With Flash-Based Content?

It is not clear if Google will penalize websites for continuing to keep Flash-based content. However, it is quite likely that Google will simply ignore the content and index other aspects of the website. In other words, websites may not suffer if they continue to keep Flash-based content. Still, websites who obsess about indexing should consider switching completely to the modern HTML5 standard. Doing so will ensure optimum and comprehensive indexing from Google Search algorithms.

Perhaps the most impacted websites would be the ones that offer Flash-based content. Many retro-gaming websites have a large amount of content that runs purely on Flash. However, with the rise of touch-based smartphones and Google Play app store, the vintage Flash-based games, and as an extension, Adobe Flash, has become rather obsolete, prompting Google to drop the standard completely.

Alap Naik Desai
A B.Tech Plastics (UDCT) and a Windows enthusiast. Optimizing the OS, exploring software, searching and deploying solutions to strange and weird issues is Alap's main interest.

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