Google has officially removed the cache link from its search results, marking the end of an iconic Google feature that has been around for over 20 years.
Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, confirmed last week that the company has “decided to retire” the cache functionality completely in the near future. The caching link, which allowed users to access a snapshot of a web page as it existed at the time it was indexed by Google, was already removed from search results snippets on January 25th.
While the “cache:” operator still currently works to pull up cached pages, Sullivan noted this will also be retired shortly and stop working.
Why Cache is Going Away
Google did not provide specifics on why it is removing the cache function after having it be a staple of its search engine for so long. The cache provided a useful record of what a page contained at the point when Google crawled and indexed it. This allowed users to see if and how a page’s content had changed over time.
However, Sullivan said the company hopes to potentially replace cache links in search results with links to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. This would still provide historical snapshots of web pages.
Alternatives to Google Cache
With Google Cache going away for good, here are two alternatives that provide functionality:
The Wayback Machine at archive.org contains over 486 billion web pages archived from across the internet. It allows you to see what a web page looked like at various points in time. There is a browser extension that lets you immediately check the Wayback Machine when visiting a web page to see its history. The Wayback Machine is an excellent free resource for understanding how a web page has evolved over many years.
Archive.today creates snapshots of how a web page looks at the current point in time when you enter its URL. It is useful for preserving a record of a page and seeing if its content later changes. Archive.today tends to capture more elements of a modern web page than the Wayback Machine. The downside is that Archive.today only shows the live version and snapshot you specifically request, while the Wayback Machine archives sites over many years.
The loss of Google Cache marks the end of an era, but fortunately there are some great alternatives that may even provide more functionality. While the cache operator was a handy tool for SEOs and researchers to peek back in time, the Wayback Machine and Archive.today allow even richer insight into the history of sites and content.