There has been yet another change in the Google algorithm – this time in a positive direction for web designers and for searchers. For years it has been impossible for Google to read and execute forms, which means that content behind the form (a great example is McDonald’s site, where the spider would not be able to get to local country content without selecting a country from a drop down box). However, in most cases a drop down form like the one used on the McDonald’s site is a good option from a usability perspective.
Google is now filling out the forms and indexing the content behind the forms. Here’s the response from Google about how it fills out the forms: “For text boxes, our computers automatically choose words from the site that has the form; for select menus, check boxes, and radio buttons on the form, we choose from among the values of the HTML.”
Google won’t access the form if it’s blocked by the robots.txt or meta robots instructions, and they are avoiding forms that require any kind of user information like a password, login, etc.
So designers now don’t need to worry about creating a design that relies on form completion to access some of the content. The article on Search Engine Land by Danny Sullivan doesn’t mention if Yahoo and Live are also planning on indexing the content, but you have to assume that once Google starts indexing that content, the others will follow.