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.