Does google index .txt files?

I’ve developed a flash site which uses external .txt files to load the content. When adding the url to google will google index those external .txt files also? So when I do a google search on text found in such a .txt file, google will include the site in the search results? Or do I have to put the complete text of all .txt files into a single of several html pages?

It’s my understanding that Google will index the .txt files, but keep in mind that if the .txt files are indexed then you’re HTML/Flash website is not what’s going to show to a user when they click in the search engine results. They’ll simply see the .txt file as that’s what was indexed.

If your content resides in the .txt file but you want the HTML/Flash indexed you’ll need to load the content from the .txt file into the HTML/Flash site.

That’s basically what I’ve done: I’ve got several .txt files which all contain the text I want to have loaded into the Flash file. So the index.html file contains just the swf file, which in its turn for each frame loads text from a .txt file. Which is loaded through LoadVars into the appropriate textfields. Is that what you mean by your last remark? When a user searches for text which is loaded from a txt file into my flash file, this will make a user go to the flash website too?

No, text files don’t redirect anywhere, they only show text, if you want it to redirect to the flash file you will need to use .htaccess to force a redirection from the server, however using keywords to try and boost relevant position when that content isn’t visible to the end user, it just redirects onward would qualify as SEO abuse according to Google so you might get banned for that practice. Also you should be aware that your text files will not be indexed by search engines unless they are referenced as anchors (spiders use anchors to find content to index). If it’s not referenced to in the HTML (the site) it’s an orphan file, no matter whether flash grabs it or not. Search engines don’t like flash much and they won’t index dynamic content like that. Also, Google would only index the file with the content, not the site, it only indexes pages / files that have something to index, a index file with just a flash file won’t really be connected as such for the same terms, and if you did just plough links into the page (invisible) to index for the flash site, it would be pretty abusive, if it’s not for the end user it shouldn’t be for the search engine. :slight_smile:

Click this link. I found it searching Google:

It’s a text file, and what you see is the text file, not the website that linked to it. That’s exactly what will happen if your text files are indexed by Google. Anyone that clicks one of them in a search result will see the contents of the file, not your Flash website.

Well, it’s not really that I want to boost the site up in google. Made a flash site for a client and he should be found on google searches. The index.html page contains only the swf off course. All text is loaded into flash using separate txt files. Now if someone would search for text found in a certain txt file, it would be ok of the txt file would be listed as a search result. As long as my client’s site is among the search results.

What I want to prevent is that when user search for text content found in external txt files, my client’s site isn’t among the search results because the index.html (flash) file has no text.

By ‘anchoring’ my txt files you mean that I should include links to all txt files into my index.html file? I’m using swfobject so between my ‘alternate content’ tags I should place the urls of all my txt files?

<alternate content>
</alternate content>

And then they wouldn’t be orphaned files, but they would be indexed by google? And listed (as txt files, but that would be ok) among the search results?

You could use swfobject ( to load the Flash file. If javascript isn’t enabled you could then simply display the text version. This is generally how I have handled Flash sites and it seems to work the best.

Search engine spiders will see you text version and index the content accordingly. Then, when a user with javascript enabled clicks on an indexed page with the search results they will see the Flash version of the website with the same content. There are other ways to do this as well, but I think swfobject is just the easiest and it degrades nicely.

Yes, but then I would have to copy/paste the text from all external txt files between the ‘alternate content’ tags. Then when my client would alter txt files, the flash site would show the altered text, but I would have to copy/paste the altered text each time my client changes it.

Would placing the content01.txt urls between the ‘alternate content’ tags make them (the text) indexed too?

With a little PHP you can read the contents of the text files and display it in the alternate content tags. I’m not an ASP guy but I’m sure it’s possible with that too. Just depends on what your comfort level is and what type of server you’re using.

Here’s a great tutorial on how to read text files using PHP:

Yes I know, but the problem was my clients host account didn’t have php. Otherwise I also could make a simple cms for him. Instead he has to change the text using a ftp program to open/change the txt files.

But the best thing to also index the text in the txt files would be to place the urls of them in the index.htm file? Otherwise they would just be orphan files and wouldn’t be indexed?

What sort of hosting company doesn’t offer either PHP or ASP?

Well if you include links to the .txt files they will get indexed, but remember that they’ll be indexed as separate pages from the Flash files. This means that if they come up in the search results and a user clicks on them the user will see just a plain text file and not your Flash website.

If you don’t have access to a server side language you can always use javascript to read a text file.

var txtFile = new XMLHttpRequest();"GET", "http://my.remote.url/myremotefile.txt", true);
txtFile.onreadystatechange = function() {
  if (txtFile.readyState === 4) {  // Makes sure the document is ready to parse.
    if (txtFile.status === 200) {  // Makes sure it's found the file.
      allText = txtFile.responseText; 
      lines = txtFile.responseText.split("\
"); // Will separate each line into an array

Sorry, that last comment about javascript defeats the purpose of what you’re doing. Logically, you want to show the contents of the text file if the user has javascript disabled so you wouldn’t be able to use javascript to display the text file. :x

Trying to think about how else you could read the contents of that text file into the alternate content tags but I can’t think of anything other than a server side language.

A cheap one :wink: Couldn’t even place a contact forum for him :wink:

Well, I’ll include the txt files into ‘alternate content’ tags. At least he’ll be found better.

Thanks for the advice anyway

Do you have access to any scripting languages? Perl maybe? I can’t even remember the last time I used perl but I’m sure it’s possible to read a text file with a CGI script.

Just had a brainwave. I’ve included a sitemaps.txt file including the urls to all my txt files. According to google’s webmastertools page, this is the way to include al urls that google might not find/index. I’ve made a google account for my client, added a sitemaps.txt file in de root of his website, uploaded it to his google account and the urls have been verified. Now google would index/find those files also on it’s next index run. Doing a search the txt file would be listed, but that’s better than his site not being found.

See this is what I was afraid of… your trying to boost your ranking in Google on your Flash only website by including the text files with the content… I’m afraid by Google’s SEO policy that does qualify as keyword spam (as you are explicitly trying to hook search engines to get your site relevantly higher in the results). The main problem of course is your use of Flash for the website, whilst a useful tool it was not intended and shouldn’t be used for the whole website (for usability, accessibility and SEO reasons). Google cannot index Flash content effectively, especially if it’s dynamically retrieved. You should have a non-flash version of the website for the 10% of people either with no-flash access or have it but cannot make use of or have limited use of it. By baiting those text files in the sitemap (or as anchors hidden within the page to pull in search engines) you could very well find yourself banned from the search results as a spammer (I’ve seen it happen). :slight_smile:

This isn’t spam, they’re not keyword stuffing junk files, they’re his real website content. If they were HTML files you wouldn’t call them that, the format is irrelevant.

I’m not trying to boost my rank. I just want the site to be found by google searches by letting google see the text (the content). It’s like I’ve got my flash site which loads this text from an external text file:

Just had a brainwave. I’ve included a sitemaps.txt file including the urls to all my txt files. According to google’s webmastertools page, this is the way to include al urls that google might not find/index. I’ve made a google account for my client, added a sitemaps.txt file in de root of his website, uploaded it to his google account and the urls have been verified. Now google would index/find those files also on it’s next index run. Doing a search the txt file would be listed, but that’s better than his site not being found.

Now normaly google wouldn’t index the text/content, just the flash index.html (which has no text to index). Again, I’m not supplying google with keywords to boost the site. I just want the text to be indexed as well. So when someone searches for the text ‘Just had a brainwave’, google lists among its search results the website. Or at least the txt file, or perhaps on position 104. As long as it’s found based on the text :nono:

I would say the format is relevant. Whilst it might be done with the best intentions of getting the content indexed a text file will ultimately be limited to plain text content which upon clicking the link the visitor will be directed to a text file (with no design or navigation), it’s not exactly a good way about getting the visitor to the website itself (just to the file). When I referred to spam I was intending that at if you chose to trigger a redirection upon loading the file (via htaccess to send them to the main site and section of content requested - aka cloak redirections). If you want to have the content indexed you would be better off having a Flash free design as an alternative rather than linking to text files which are nothing but a solid mass of content without semantic value or context. :slight_smile:

No, I don’t intent do have the txt files redirect to the main index.html site. My intention was just to have the content/text indexed. Otherwise, when people search for textual content (which is loaded into the flash file), the site would never be among the search results. I’m satisfied if at least this shows up:

when people search for textual content present in chapter01.txt.

I’m relying upon that people figure out that the main site is