Let’s be honest, Google’s removal of the Google Cache button in search results is not going to affect the billions of people that use the search service on a regular basis!
Heck, even telling people that Google removed the Search Cache Button for web pages is likely going to leave confused looks on most people.
In recent years, people just don’t use it. And the only people using it in recent times were a very small sector of content creators or SEO professionals checking when Google last crawled a page.
I say all this, yet I actually needed it a few days ago, and the button was gone. I shrugged it off and continued on with my other tasks, and then woke up the next day to find the Google cache topic blowing up on Twitter and blog posts everywhere, with people freaking out that the cached button was gone!
What was the Google Search Cache?
I remember watching the Late Late Show with Gay Byrne back in the 80s in Ireland. Every Christmas, he would do a Toy Show edition and showcase various hot toys for the year. It was the only time I was allowed to watch the show as a kid. But I digress.
One particular year, and I can still hear the words clear as day, Gay Byrne was showcasing a Hot Wheels Loop playset, and he said, “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it!”
That’s effectively what the cache feature was for most people when looking at Google Search Results. It was hidden, to an extent, or something that most people would never click on.
If they did find it by clicking on the three dots, the cached link would show a cached version of the page. It was useful if you had a slow internet connection or needed to check to see past versions of a current page. But it was limited to the most recent copy. Sometimes, that cached version was the same as the live version. In fact, the majority of the time, the two were exactly the same.
At the end of the day, as Google indexed web pages, they kept the most recent version and left it available as a cached version to those who needed it. Today, Google confirmed that the feature has been removed.
Why Was The Google Cached Pages Link Removed?
Very few people used the “view cached version” option.
In years past, when the internet was a little less reliable, some people would view the cached version of a web page as the live version was not loading or access to that content was removed. There was also a text-only version that you could view if you had really slow internet access.
But with today’s access to reliable internet websites and images that load fast, the need to keep versions of web pages just isn’t warranted.
Where Can I See Old Versions Of Websites?
The Internet Archive (archive.org) has a huge library copy of almost every page that ever existed on the Internet. Their goal is to have a copy of everything, but with millions of new pages a day, that’s a huge undertaking! It’s fun to look back in time at a cached page and see just how far a website has come.
Archive.org has what they call “The Wayback Machine” and does a pretty good job documenting the web as it existed. I’ve personally used it many times in the past to view old versions of sites to get content that was previously published and was later deleted on a website. While they don’t have a copy of all the images that were used on a site, they do a pretty good job of getting a copy of every webpage that has been indexed over the years.
There are other services online that also store cached copies of web pages, but I’ve personally really only ever paid attention to the Wayback Machine if I was searching for some old data on a site. They keep multiple snapshots of a site, so you can select by date and compare one month versus another.
What is the impact of the removal of the Google Cache Viewer?
For most, there’ll be no impact with the removal of the Google Cache button.
The general public only care about the current version of a website, and they really don’t care about what Google sees when they crawled a web page at a given time.
Over the past few years, web designers have been adding a meta tag to their site to prevent cached versions from being stored at Google. So while SEOs might say that they relied on the feature, the fact is not all pages in a search result were cached anyway!
There are times when you don’t want archived versions of old content to be available, especially if it is critical information that has been updated. Of course, that can lead to some transparency concerns when you’re wanting to point the finger over a particular issue, but again, those are isolated cases compared to how most people use Google.
Can I still view cached pages on Google?
Yes, at this time, and for the foreseeable future, you can view the google web cache of any page using Search Operators.
Just like you can use quotations in a search bar to make Google Search match a particular word or phrase, you can use other such as “intitle”, “inurl”, “intext:” and in the cache case, you can use “cache”
To view the cached version of any page, just type “cache:urlname” in a Google Search box. Replace “urlname” with either a domain or the full URL to the page you’re looking for and it will display.
How Do I View The Last Crawl Date?
One of the big things that SEO Experts used the Google Cache for was finding out when Google last crawled a web page. Even knowing how often Google Crawls something can be a big benefit when you’re updating URLs, content and images.
The “cache” search operator (cache:) will still give you the information, but you can also view this from inside the Google Search Console.
If you log into your Search Console, at the top of the page you can click the option for “Inspect any URL in yourdomain”, it will display the current version of the page along with the google cache date and other information.
So while the search results page no longer include links to the cache, you can still access it via the search console. This is just another small change in how we use Google and its services. They continually evolve, and our methods of accessing the information will adjust over time too.
Where do we go from here?
In the grand scheme of Google’s wide array of features, the removal of the cache button from search results is inconsequential to the average user. Despite being a relatively obscure feature, content creators and SEO professionals have once again proclaimed “the sky is falling” over something that is rarely used.
We can still access the most recent crawl date information via Search Operators and via the Search Console. As Google crawls the web, we can still view the most recent version of a page in their cache. And for everything else, there’s the Wayback Machine from Archive.org.
I’m not saying that this won’t impact how people do things, but it’s not a huge issue. Certainly not enough for people to freak out over.