Monthly Archives: July 2008

A friend of mine recently emailed to ask, how TinyURL impacts SEO? It's a good question and one many folks can't answer so, I thought I'd blog my answer to his question!

For anyone not familiar with TinyURL, in layman terms it's a tool where users can enter long displaying URLs to get a shortened version. TinyURLs are often used where long URLs might wrap and therefore break, such as in email or social media web applications like Twitter. In more technical terms, TinyURLs are short, dynamically created URLs that redirect users to another intended URL via 301 redirect. Because TinyURLs "301" or permanently redirect, search engines should not index the TinyURL but instead should index and pass PageRank to the actual URL.

It is important to note, TinyURLs to paid links passing PageRank is a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines and that sites like Twitter use nofollow techniques to prevent spam.

On their own, TinyURLs can be search engine friendly from a technical perspective. At the same time, I wouldn't suggest replacing your site's navigation with TinyURLs and would point out that tracking TinyURLs via analytics might be difficult.

As you know Google is always testing new tools designed to improve their user's search experience. One such experiment, actually launched last November but seems to have been modified, relaunched and is again drawing lots of attention. This latest version allows users to influence their own search experience by adding moving and/or removing search results. These actions are made possible thanks to Google's "Like it?", "Don't like it", "Know of a better webpage?" and "Make a comment" options.

The new experiment goes another step, allowing users new options like "Everyone's edits", "Review edits" and "Exit edit mode" options. Some are even comparing the interface with digg. The cool "new options" allow users to see their edits and edits made by others via their Google Account profile. To try this experiment, go to the old experiment, then login to your Google Account and then search or while logged in try one of the links below. The new experiment should kick in automatically while still available!

swm=2 seems to indicate everyone's edits
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=google&btnG=Search&swm=2

swm=1 seems to indicate "my edits"
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=google&btnG=Search&swm=1

swm=0 seems to indicate "exit edit mode"

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=google&btnG=Search&swm=0

Google Edit Choices

Google Edits

Google Edit Image

By now you probably know Google indexes text content within Flash thanks to Google's new Algorithm for Flash. In case you missed it, Google recently updated their original announcement to include additional details about how Google handles Flash files.

SWFObject - Google confirms that Googlebot did not execute JavaScript such as the type used with SWFObject as of the July 1st launch of the new algorithm.

SWFObject - Google confirms "now" rolling out an update that enables the execution of JavaScript in order to support sites using SWFObject and SWFObject 2.

According to Google, "If the Flash file is embedded in HTML (as many of the Flash files we find are), its content is associated with the parent URL and indexed as single entity." I found this isn't the case using a variation of the example used by Google. The following query finds the same content indexed at three URLs 2 SWF and 1 HTML:
http://www.google.com/search?q=%22NASA%27s+Hubble,+...

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/deep-impact/index.swf
http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/deepimpact_flash/index.swf
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/deep-impact/index-flash.html

Additional:

Deep Linking - Google doesn't support deep linking. "In the case of Flash, the ability to deep link will require additional functionality in Flash with which we integrate."

Non-Malicious Duplicate content - Flash sites containing "alternative" content in HTML might be detected as having duplicate content.

Googlebot, it seems still ignores #anchors but will soon crawl SWFObject. Given that Googlebot can or will soon crawl SWFObject sites, major reworks should be considered for "deep linking" sites where correlating "alternative" HTML content pages contain the same Flash file and are accessible via multiple URLs.

ActionScript - Google confirms indexing ActionScript 1, ActionScript 2 and ActionScript 3 while at the same time Google shouldn't expose ActionScript to users.

External Text (XML) - Google confirms, content loaded dynamically into Flash from external resources isn't associated with the parent URL.

While this is a great development for Flash Developers moving forward, lots of education may be required.

iPhone 2.0 Software

As you know iPhone 3g launches tomorrow but, if you'd like to check out the new 2.0 Software and Apple iPhone "App Store" here it is:

Please note, you may delete the contents of your phone (as I did) if you don't back up your contents first.

How to install iPhone 2.0 software on your iPhone
Backup your data

Backup your data

Download iTunes 7.7

Download install iPhone 2.0 software

Connect phone

In iTunes hold down option while selecting "Check for Updates"

At that point it will take your phone about 18 minutes to update.

Then iPhone will setup as a new phone or restore.

Restore from the backup you did in the beginning.

The new software seems to work well with Gmail as well as other Google applications. The camera feature asks if I'd like to use my location even though it's not the 3g version. Google Maps has a cool "wavy" look and feel when acquiring a new location. The new iPhone 2.0 software "fetch" feature works well and is a new twist on iPhone.

In a rare multi-company multi-blog announcement, Google and Adobe have released their latest update which may help resolve the age old Flash / SEO question. For years, Google and other engines have had issues extracting information from Flash. That may be nearing an end with todays announcement and the public disclosure of Google's "Flash indexing algorithm".

According to Google they've greatly improved indexing for Flash and in particular SWF files ranging from gadgets, buttons and menus to entire websites. Basically, Google can now extract more text within Flash files and generate snippets for websites based on text they've extracted. The new Google algorithm for Flash also opens up the potential for Google discovering URLs contained within Flash and therefore possibly even extracting anchor text for links in Flash. Seems this anchor text could later be associate with links.

At the same time, Google's ability doesn't seem to have increased when it come to extracting images, text images and/or pseudo "text" within FLV files. Images are a major concern for search marketers as they're included as part of Google Universal search. In other words, text still can't be extracted from your favorite YouTube videos. :)

How is all of this possible? According to Adobe, "Adobe is providing optimized Adobe Flash Player technology to Google and Yahoo! to enhance search engine indexing of the Flash file format (SWF) and uncover information that is currently undiscoverable by search engines. “Until now it has been extremely challenging to search the millions of RIAs and dynamic content on the Web, so we are leading the charge in improving search of content that runs in Adobe Flash Player,” said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president of the Platform Business Unit at Adobe.

“Google has been working hard to improve how we can read and discover SWF files,” said Bill Coughran, senior vice president of engineering at Google. “Through our recent collaboration with Adobe, we now help Web site owners that choose to design sites with Adobe Flash software by indexing this content better. Improving how we crawl dynamic content will ultimately enhance the search experience for our users.

“Designers and Web developers have long been frustrated that search engines couldn’t better access the information within their content created with Flash technology. It’s great to see Adobe and the search engines working directly together to improve the situation,” said Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief, SearchEngineLand.com.

Without going into to much detail, Google's new process for Flash works similar to the way users interact with Flash and no action is required for indexing. Either way, it's confirmed that Google can now see your content in Flash. Google ends their announcement by outlining the remaining limitations:

1. Googlebot still lacks some support for Flash in JavaScript.

2. External XML content loading into HTML source pages won't be associated with the source URL which is a KEY factor for SEO.

3. Google can't translate Flash content into Hebrew or Arabic.

More from Adobe, Google Webmaster Central & Google Blog