Google Instant Previews Now Include Flash Content

Google Instant Previews will now include Adobe Flash objects and other rich content. Previously, Flash components were represented as a little icon in the shape of a puzzle piece.


Google Instant Previews allow searchers to preview the layout of a website from within the search results page before clicking on the blue link. Google launched the feature last year and added the feature to Google Mobile in March.

Google's previews work in two manners. Many websites are crawled using a special Google crawler. For those that aren't, a special on-demand Google bot goes and fetches the page preview when you attempt previews that aren't in Google's cache.

Those on-demand previews won't include complete Flash snippets in the preview. Instead, those previews that are fetched as you ask for them will show either text that reads "Install Flash" or, if the website has a handler for non-Flash-enabled browsers, it will display the alternate text.

For site owners, Google offered a bit of additional advice on improving your site's preview:

  • If Flash videos are prevalent on your site, consider creating a video sitemap and submit it to Google. This will help them understand more about your site and be able to index -- and preview -- it properly.
  • Try to create a naturally seamless visit experience for your site visitors who don't have Flash-capable browsers. This includes iOS devices and many other mobile browsers.

For those who don't like the Instant previews, you can always disable them.

About the author

A seasoned Web developer since 1993, Thom is a technical SEO and digital analytics veteran. Thom started his first Web consultancy, New York Web Works, in 1997 and never looked back. His current role as Director of Analytics at Acronym puts him on the forefront of analyzing websites of some of the biggest brands.

Part of the ClickZ Academy faculty, Thom has also taught for several well-respected colleges and universities. A ghost author of over a dozen technical training manuals, Thom has written for several industry blogs. He is a regular speaker at ClickZ Live events and is also a veteran of TEDx.