Google says goodbye to Flash, will stop indexing Flash content in search

Google Search will no longer index Flash content that its crawlers find on websites.

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After Google sidelining Flash in Chrome over the past few years, Google Search will soon stop indexing Flash content on the web, making it that much harder for users to find it. 

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Adobe's timeline for the end of Flash support is just over one year away and now Google is pulling one more lever to reduce its visibility before fully removing Flash support from Chrome in December 2020.   

In an update on its webmasters blog, Google says it will stop supporting Flash "later this year", meaning very soon. Google Search will "ignore" Flash content on web pages that contain any such content. It will also stop indexing standalone SWF (Shockwave Flash) files. 

"Most users and websites won't see any impact from this change," said Dong-Hwi Lee, an engineering manager at Google.

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Adobe launched Flash in 1996, a year before Google launched. As per Search Engine Land, Google first started crawling Flash files in 2008, catering to developers and designers who created animations, games and other media for the web. 

But with Search now ignoring Flash content, it should give website operators who designed their site in Flash an incentive to ditch Flash and use HTML5 technologies used in all modern browsers. 

There's a lengthy debate on Hacker News about why designers loved Flash and why it failed. One argument for Flash's demise was that it tried to be an entire virtual operating system, which gave it an overly complex design that invited hackers to exploit bugs.

Google disabled Flash in Chrome by default in the Chrome 76 release this July. Microsoft is also retiring Flash from its Chromium-based Edge browser. Mozilla disabled it by default in Firefox 69 from September.