Google Search to stop indexing Flash content in late 2019

Google has announced that it will stop indexing Flash content in Search, as the internet gears up to bid a (not so fond) farewell to the multimedia software platform next year.

“In Web pages that contain Flash content, Google Search will ignore the Flash content,” noted Google engineering manager Dong-Hwi Lee in a blog post. “Google Search will stop indexing standalone SWF files.”

It is no secret that Adobe Flash is well and truly on its way out — two years ago, a consortium of internet companies (including Adobe itself) committed to killing Flash by 2020. Preceding that, Steve Jobs’ famous Thoughts on Flash letter from 2010 helped set the wheels in motion for the proprietary software’s eventual demise, with the Apple cofounder citing numerous reasons as to why his company’s hardware would not support Flash, including performance on mobile and poor security.

For more than a decade now, internet companies have been diminishing their support for Flash while simultaneously increasing support for HTML5, with major browsers such as Chrome now blocking all Flash content by default.

Historically, it was difficult for Flash websites to feature in search engine results because crawlers required text-based content — however, back in 2008 Google partnered with Adobe to develop a workaround to make it easier for Flash-based websites to show up for key search terms in Google Search. Fast forward to 2019, and it’s estimated that less than 5% of websites still use Flash content, down from nearly 30% in 2011, so there will unlikely be many complaints when Google finally stops indexing Flash content later this year.

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“Most users and websites won’t see any impact from this change,” Lee added.


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