Should SWF need to be searchable?

We hear people asking questions, how to make swf (more) searchable? Is SWF searchable?
Not many people know, most of the search engines index text within swf files. My question is:

Should SWF need to be searchable?

I have got different opinion on this entire idea:

  • SWF is *not content* rather an application.
  • To make it searchable, it require special effort, which doesn’t make sense.
    • hardcoded text in swf
    • extra deep-linking workarounds, apart from basic support, to instantiate view-state

Some questions:

  • Should search-engines index applications?

  • Does desktop-search index desktop-applications (executables)?

Why do we need to prove swf is a good option? I think, it is. The whole idea of searchability applies to content, and I already said swf should not be seen as content (like html, xml, text, etc).
I can imagine a few ways to add search support without doing special workarounds, these are known things:

  • As we know, it’s good practice to have support for deep-linking or REST URIs
  • Having that in place, metadata can be injected in html-wrapper or a supporting xml file with all possible deep-links to view-states within Flash/Flex apps (swf)?

Structure (view metadata – heading, some info, etc) of application can be semantically encoded in html with appropriate deep-links to views in an application.
What you think about it?
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  • To me, a SWF itself shouldn’t be crawled by search engines. The content the SWF displays should be what’s relevant, and it’s up to developer to ensure that content can be seen by search engines. It’s like asking if CSS and JavaScript should be crawled.
    For an excellent example of a Flash application whose data is viewable by search engines without going into the SWF, people should check out Ted Patrick’s Flex Directory at

  • Gabriel mariani

    I think for SWFs to be SEO friendly there should be an agreed upon API that search engines would use to query the SWF for content that they want indexed. That way it is up to the developer to provide the search engine with said information. I think that’s true for HTML developers as well. Except they have meta tags, keywords, etc. Flash should have it’s equivalent.

  • @Josh: Thanks for the link to Ted’s directory app, I think, that’s what I also meant in my post.

  • I agree with the gist of Abdul’s article – it isn’t necessary for SE’s to index SWFs. Most developers understand the principle of keeping content and presentation separate and so a SWF shouldn’t have any content in it to index in the first place – the content should be dynamic. If you really want to optimise a web page for a SE, just put your SEO HTML data in the alternative content div tag. A SE can read this without any problems at all!