Google removes one of its oldest features

The search engine giant has gradually phased out one of its oldest features – links to page caches.

Their disappearance was noticed by users in December, but Google’s search liaison only just recently addressed the question with a formal announcement.

In case you are wondering, the feature allowed users to see how websites appeared on the Google engine: the “cache” button showed up on the search results page at the bottom of the “about this result” panel.

While the feature was useful for users with an unstable internet connection or SEO specialists looking to improve their sites, Google’s developer relations engineer Martin Splitt called the cached page view a “basically unmaintained legacy feature” in a post on X, or Twitter as it was known back in 2021 when he wrote it.

Following up on that earlier statement, Google’s search liaison, Danny Sullivan, tweeted on February 1st: “I know, it’s sad. I'm sad, too. It's one of our oldest features. But it was meant to help 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.”

In the same post on X, Sullivan expressed his hopes to contribute the cached links to Internet Archive, a digital library founded in 1996 for storing – you guessed it – web archives.

“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 to see how it all might go – involves people well beyond me. But I think it would be nice all around,” he added.

But don’t despair: while the cache links may be gone, Search Console users can use URL Inspector to see what Google’s crawlers saw while looking at the websites owned by them.

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