Google Plans to End Indexing for Flash Content By End of 2019

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

The internet is an ever-changing ecosystem, and marketers need to update their sites to reflect the latest changes in SEO and web design trends. Depending on your age, Adobe Flash brings back memories of the early days of the internet or it’s a relic of the past that you occasionally find on modern websites. Google announced that the company would stop indexing Flash content by the end of the year. 

Back in 1996, Adobe released Flash as a way for internet creators to make websites, video players, games, and more. Flash was the ideal solution for making websites more dynamic and interesting. At its peak, the Flash runtime, which plays Flash content, was installed 500 million times in the second half of 2013

However, by the time smartphones hit the scene, Flash was in decline. Abode took a lot of criticism for security holes in Flash and the file sizes were too large to work correctly on the slow mobile internet networks of the time. 

The decline of Adobe Flash is linked to the rise of smartphones. New technology was being introduced that replaced functions normally performed by Flash on websites. For example, video players began to HTML5 instead of Flash, and Apple ended support for Flash on iOS devices, which meant website owners needed to update their site. 

At this point, relatively few sites use Flash, as modern web design trends encourage developers to use HTML5 or another mobile-friendly solution. You can still find old games, videos, and websites that use Flash, but it’s going to become harder in the near future. Google announced that it would stop indexing Flash content.

As Google explained in a post announcing the policy change, “Google Search will stop supporting Flash later this year. In Web pages that contain Flash content, Google Search will ignore the Flash content. Google Search will stop indexing standalone SWF files. Most users and websites won’t see any impact from this change.”

As the statement from Google noted, this change won’t affect most sites. The older a site is, the more likely it is to use Flash elements in the design. There are even some sites that are built entirely in Flash to give the website a more dynamic look with moving elements, animations, and sound effects. Google’s announcement means that these Flash elements won’t be indexed for Search. For websites that were built in Flash, this change means the site will essentially be invisible to Google’s crawlers. 

Flash has been on the way out for many years, and this latest decision from Google could be the nail in the coffin. If you have a site that uses Flash content, you will need to have the site redesigned and adjusted by the end of the year. As the Google engineer stated at the end of the post, “Flash, you inspired the web. Now, there are web standards like HTML5 to continue your legacy.”

For more news about updated and change from Google, read this article on Google’s beta test of new advertising formats that can help drive conversions this holiday season.

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