Google Has Officially Killed Cache Links

Google Has Officially Killed Cache Links

Twenty-five years ago, the internet was kludged together with duct tape and a dream. Sometimes typing in a URL brought up a website. Sometimes things were just broken. Google, then just a bizarrely named startup, would soon offer a solution. The company added “cache” links to its search results, which brought up a previously saved version of web pages. Now the internet is mature, Google is among history’s most powerful conglomerates, and as of today, the cache link is officially kaput.

The change, first spotted by Search Engine Land, was just confirmed by Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sulivan, the company’s go-between for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) professionals.

“Yes, it’s been removed. I know, it’s sad. I’m sad too,” Sullivan tweeted Friday. “It’s one of our oldest features. But it was meant for helping people access pages when way back, you often couldn’t depend on a page loading. These days, things have greatly improved. So, it was decided to retire it.”

Nostalgia for a button that a lot of people probably haven’t heard of might seem absurd, but Google’s cache function was a foundational solution to one of the web’s earliest problems. As the web transformed into a more stable infrastructure, cache was mostly abandoned by regular consumers, but it was still a useful tool. SEO workers used it to watch changes made by competitors. Journalists and researchers checked caches to keep an eye on the historical record. Some savvy internet users knew cache was a way to get around paywalls, or as a poor man’s VPN to load websites that were blocked in particular regions.

But Google’s cache links have been doomed for a while. There used to be a cache button right next to blue links on, but the company moved the feature to the “About This Result,” menu where it languished in obscurity. As the Verge noted, a Google engineer tweeted that cache is “a basically unmaintained legacy feature” back in 2021. For now, you can still view Google’s cache by typing “cache:” before the URL, but that’s on its way out too.

There’s another solution, but it’s on shaky ground. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine preserves historic copies of websites as a public service, but the organisation is in a constant battle to stay solvent. Google’s Sullivan floated the idea of a partnership with the Internet Archive, though that’s nothing close to an official plan.

“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,” Sullivan tweeted. “No promises. We have to talk to them, see how it all might go — involves people well beyond me.”

Rest in power cache links.

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