In a recent announcement, Danny Sullivan, the search liaison of Google, has officially confirmed the removal of page cache links from their search results page. Sullivan expressed that the initial purpose of these links was to assist users in accessing pages during times when page loading reliability was questionable. However, due to significant advancements in technology and improved internet accessibility, this feature has become obsolete and unnecessary.
The cache feature has a long-standing function of displaying a webpage from Google’s perspective. This holds more value than being a mere solution for slow-loading pages. It has been of great assistance to SEO experts in troubleshooting their websites and monitoring rivals’ activities. Moreover, it serves as an immensely beneficial tool for news gathering, granting journalists access to accurate updates made by companies on their websites. Additionally, it allows for the revelation of details that individuals or organizations may attempt to erase from the internet.
A page’s cache used to have multiple ways to access it. One method was clicking on the Cached button located at the bottom of the About this result panel, which could be found in the three-button menu beside a search result. Alternatively, if one was familiar with the technique, they could add the prefix cache: before a URL in the search bar to directly access Google’s cached version.
In the past year, back in 2021, the appearance of the Cached button in search results was quite different compared to what I am currently observing.
Google’s cache links have been gradually disappearing for the past few months, and the process is not yet fully finished. Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Roundtable noticed that these links were intermittently vanishing from search results in early December, and now they have been completely removed by the end of January.
Despite the recent discontinuation of cache links, it has long been evident that this would happen. Martin Splitt, an engineer at Google Developer Relations, described the cached view as an outdated and neglected feature in early 2021.
Google does not appear to be considering replacing the feature at present, yet Sullivan expresses his aspirations for Google to potentially incorporate hyperlinks to the Internet Archive. These links would serve the purpose of displaying the evolution of a webpage over time. He emphasizes that no guarantees can be made as discussions with relevant parties need to occur, acknowledging that this decision extends beyond his authority.
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