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Monday, June 30, 2008

Flash SEO Coming: Spammer Exploits Follow?

Flash SEO may soon be a service offered by search marketing firms and in-house teams will be scrambling to learn and leverage the latest tricks of SWF optimization. Adobe says:
We are releasing technology to Google and Yahoo that enables them to crawl and index SWF files. They are now searchable. This will open up millions of Flash files to search.

Google claims they developed the technology, but either way, it's clear that Adobe doesn't want the public to know what is in that technology made available to "Google and Yahoo" (What? No Microsoft?). I believe I'd like the opportunity to make technology available to Google and Yahoo to effectively search my own sites and those of my clients so I could sell more products to the public.

OK, Adobe owns web video format and isn't likely to sell Flash Optimization tools to the public that just happen to help optimize Flash which work well with that tool they released to Google and Yahoo as a part of their Flash Studio Suite - are they?

Enough cynicism - let's look at the effect this may have on SEO for Flash. White text on white background keyword stuffing in SWF files will be a lot harder to discover without that proprietary tool released to the search engines - but do you think anyone will attempt to game that?

Sorry I meant to drop the sarcasm - it snuck up on me again. Well now search engines will be able to "see" the text in Flash files and index it as though it were plain HTML on the page. Most SEO's know how hard it is to get their clients to actually USE the phrases they want to rank for on the page in plain text on the page (Sorry no javascript, no image based text, no AJAX, no "display=none" in CSS).

Well how likely is it we can get those same clients, now freed from the "No Flash" restriction we handed to them in regard to their navigation links and body text - to actually use their keyword phrases in indexable text in Flash? We'll have to have long conversations with Flash developers about best practices for Flash SEO, one group we didn't need to train in SEO previously.

Sorry to say, SEO's will all now need to purchase Adobe Flash Studio to deconstruct the text inside those flying, bouncing, twisting, spinning, turning letters, only to find out there is very little readable text in those files anyway. The links may be crawlable, but how does the custom Adobe algorithm treat hypertext embedded keyword phrases in Flash versions of image files?

Adobe, I see higher sales in your future.

Google and Yahoo, I see a lot of indexed spinning text under hyperlinks exposed to your flash indexing tool from Adobe.

Fellow SEO's, I see a lot of silly discussions with clients AND their flash developers about Flash SEO best practices and how they don't apply to image based text or double spaced spinning letters or white text against a white background in those Flash files. And I have to buy new software to have those conversations.

I have a headache already!

Adobe Press Release Here

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Post Once, Change All, Spam Once, Spam Everywhere

It's truly a strange world online now. Google is rumored to be on the verge of an announcement on Monday that would make all social media data portable, connectable and linkable. How strange would it be to post to your favorite social networking site with an update like, say maybe adding a new friend - and instantly update any of your other social profiles with that change or addition?

Michael Arrington, first with many big announcements because businesses (and insiders, and PR departments and...) know the attention level of a TechCrunch post can beat (or lead as the source) for National Media outlets.

Well, Arrington is speculating (or leaking) that Google is about to launch "Friend Connect" following on the heels of the Yahoo Open Strategy announcement, the MySpace Data Availability announcement, then the FaceBook response to the MySpace announcement with Facebook Connect announcement and now, a truly strange service called OnlyWire bookmarklet for posting links to social bookmarking services - all of them - at ONCE.

Despite the fact that many want those services to be shared by different groups of friends, coworkers, or family - this is a very interesting development in what it means to be social, what being social means to search visibility and how this might affect spamming for SEO. Want a sample? Check out this Google Search for Xoost - a truly bizarre result-set.

If that group of Xoost search results doesn't concern you about how multi-posting and single source updates to social bookmarking sites might be abused for search engine spamming, then you have nerves of steel.

For perfect clarity - I am not labeling any site, service or company mentioned here as spammers - I fear for the abuse of this newest development as taking a step too far toward openness, so that all of them could be abused horribly. Yes, with proper attention, only briefly - but it's like standing on the precipice looking down several stories to a river of sewage we could fall into.

What is the right amount of openness, portability and single source updating? I don't have a clue - but I worry that the noise level could go up dramatically and search relevance could suffer in an escalating "openness" arms race.

I've had my nervous moment now - let's hope it doesn't get as ugly as all that.

Update shows that Friend Connect from Google is different from the expectations and not joining in the portability madness in the way I had feared - whew! Below is a Google video on this new social networking tool.

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