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Google Search retires ‘Cached’ web page feature: Here's everything you need to know

Google Search ‘Cached’ web page option enabled users to view a snapshot of a web page as it was indexed by Google. Here are all the details you need to know.

Edited By: Om Gupta

Published: Feb 04, 2024, 03:49 PM IST

Google Search
Google Search

Story Highlights

  • Google Search is bidding farewell to its ‘Cached’ web page option.
  • Google’s search liaison announced the discontinuation of the cache links feature.
  • Google citing enhancements in internet reliability as a primary factor behind the decision.

In a significant development, Google Search is bidding farewell to its long-standing feature: the ‘Cached’ web page option. This move signifies the end of an era for a tool that has been instrumental in providing users with snapshots of web pages as they were indexed by Google.

Google’s search liaison announced the discontinuation of the cache links feature, citing enhancements in internet reliability as a primary factor behind the decision.

What is the ‘Cached’ web page feature

The ‘Cached’ feature enabled users to view a snapshot of a web page as it was indexed by Google, irrespective of the availability of the original site.

The origin and evolution of the feature

The ‘Cached’ feature was designed to allow users to access a previously indexed version of a web page directly from Google’s search results. This was particularly useful when the internet was less stable and reliable. Users could click on the ‘Cached’ link next to a search result to view a copy of a web page as captured by Google, even if the original site was down, slow, or had undergone changes.

While the feature was initially intended for accessing pages during times of unreliable internet, it found popularity among SEO professionals, journalists, and users who wanted to verify the authenticity and updates of web content.

Danny Sullivan, Google’s search liaison, explained the rationale behind the decision to retire this feature in a tweet: “These days, things have greatly improved. So, it was decided to retire it.”

Changes in user interface

Access to a page’s cache was typically available through a few different methods. There was a ‘Cached’ button at the bottom of the ‘About this result’ panel, accessible from the three-button menu next to a search result. Additionally, users could prepend the prefix ‘cache:’ to a URL before searching for it to jump directly into Google’s cached version.

Reactions and impact

The removal of the ‘Cached’ web page feature has elicited a variety of responses, ranging from disappointment to concern over losing a valuable tool for content verification and SEO analysis. Users have underscored its usefulness in verifying the authenticity of information, checking for page updates, and accessing geoblocked content.

Alternatives

While Google has not fully disclosed the reasons behind its decision, the company has suggested the possibility of incorporating links to the Internet Archive in the ‘About This Result’ section as a replacement for the cache link. This proposal aims to use the Internet Archive as a resource for viewing historical versions of web pages, although the specifics and implementation are yet to be determined.

“Personally, I hope that maybe we’ll add links to @internetarchive from where we had the cache link before, within About This Result. It’s such an amazing resource. For the information literacy goal of About The Result, I think it would also be a nice fit — allowing people to easily see how a page changed over time. No promises. We have to talk to them, see how it all might go — involves people well beyond me. But I think it would be nice all around,” Danny Sullivan said.

The retirement of the ‘Cached’ web page feature by Google Search indicates a shift in the company’s approach to web content accessibility and reliability. As the internet continues to evolve, so do the tools and features designed to navigate its vast resources. While this decision marks the end of an era, it also paves the way for potential new solutions for accessing historical web content.

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Author Name | Om Gupta

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