Adobe Patent Talks To Search Engines

Adobe Systems has filed a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for technology that could make rich media applications (RMA) easier for search engines to find, index and rank.

Web developers have complained for years about the additional work that must go into making content created in Flash discoverable by search engines.

The patent application describes an annotation-based function that will make RMA content more discoverable by search engines. points to the application that notes programmable links to the crawler identify the content in the Flash page.

Annotating parts of the Flash content creates a timeline that helps the search engine identify parts of the Web site, according to David Harry, SEO-Reliable founder. "The annotation tells the search engine the parts of the Web site to crawl, so it doesn't need to go through the entire site," he says. "It's about defining pieces of the Flash file. It doesn't give you full textual capability, but it makes it easier to define things."

The technology described in the patent aims to help developers that have had to create entire text versions of Flash make it easier for search engines to identify content. It's like putting an alt tag in an image, Harry says.

"Google probably told them, we don't want to crawl your whole bloody file," Harry says. He points to a portion of the patent that reads: "A prior attempt to make such rich Internet applications more compatible with the aforementioned search engine technologies has been to shadow a rich Internet application with a HTML version of the application. Such a technique suffers from the obvious disadvantage of requiring duplication of effort in coding the actual rich Internet application as well as the shadow HTML.

While the search engine can't read Flash, so flags or annotations in the code tell the search engine what to index and rank, it appears the technology might already exist in the current iteration of Flash as an action script to annotate a specific Flash movie, according to Tanya Crawford, Web developer at Verve Developments. But it's not cost effective because Web developers can do the same thing with Ajax. The same thing means directing search engines through signals and annotations.

Adobe has no intensions of pulling back on Flash development. During the Google I/O 2010 conference in May, Google CEO Eric Schmidt asked Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen for the key technological innovations Flash will bring Google TV. Narayen admitted the company continues to work on 10.1 Flash to improve key issues like battery life and performance. Aside from Google TV, Adobe plans to support Android applications, too.

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