updated 7/3/2008 12:04:30 PM ET 2008-07-03T16:04:30

Internet users will now have an easier time finding sites that rely heavily on the popular Flash video format.

Adobe Systems Inc., the format's developer, has released a customized version of its Flash Player software that allows Google's search engine and others to see the elements of Web pages embedded with Flash content the same way a human would.

Search crawlers, the programs that find and index content for search engines, currently have a difficult time "seeing" non-text formats.

Although they can often index static text and links within basic Flash files, many Web pages associated with Flash video are dynamically generated on the fly as visitors are ready to view them. And some Web pages are now designed almost entirely in Flash, with menus and other features embedded within the Flash video.

Adobe's new tools help search crawlers navigate dynamic Flash pages more easily. Google's crawlers, for instance, will be able to click buttons along the way and remember the information for the index.

"Improving how we crawl dynamic content will ultimately enhance the search experience for our users," Bill Coughran, Google's senior vice president of engineering, said in a statement.

Google already is using the new tools and Yahoo plans to soon. Adobe plans to extend support to other search engines.

Web designers don't need change the way they do anything to accommodate the upgrade.

There are limits, however. Google is indexing only actual text within Flash files — not text presented as images such as the words on a street sign. So Google's YouTube video clips still aren't covered because they don't contain embedded text.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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