Google has confirmed the removal of the cached search results feature from its service. The adjustment marks a significant departure from a long-standing utility that has been part of the search engine's offerings for many years. The update reflects changes in the reliability of web content accessibility.
Rationale Behind the Decision
Danny Sullivan, who manages the Google Search Liaison account, has addressed inquiries on social media regarding the missing links to cached search results. He explains that the feature originally served to assist users in accessing web pages during times when reliability was an issue, a circumstance that has vastly improved with technological advancement. Despite its current utility, especially for those looking to view historical data on web content modifications, Google has opted to retire the capability. Sullivan himself expressed regret over the feature's disappearance.
Hey, catching up. Yes, it's been removed. I know, it's sad. I'm sad too. 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…
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) February 1, 2024
Potential Collaboration with Internet Archive
The possibility of collaborating with the Internet Archive to present historical search results was suggested by Sullivan. This potential integration within the ‘About This Result' section would align with the company's goal to foster information literacy. However, Sullivan underscored that this idea remains a mere possibility at this stage and would require an agreement beneficial to both parties.
Google Search currently offers an alternative for website owners to access what the Google crawler encounters on their pages using the URL Inspector tool. This approach, however, is limited in scope and usefulness, catering primarily to those with a vested interest in the immediate status of their web content.
Despite the feature's termination, the actual caching of content by Google remains active; only the user-facing functionality is being phased out. Any partnership with the Internet Archive remains speculative and contingent on future negotiations.