Cached web pages are no longer offered in Google Search results. This change has been rumored for some time, but it was finally confirmed by Danny Sullivan, the Google Search Liaison.
The cached links feature, which is nearly as old as Google itself, allowed users to see copies of web pages that were saved by Google’s indexing algorithm. It was initially intended as a backup system for websites—if a site was down, you could view the cached version.
Websites are more reliable than they used to be, but cached links is still a valuable feature. Before today, you could use cached links to view region-locked content, and the feature often served as an archival system, as it revealed small changes in website content. Plus, cached links presented the web “through Google’s eyes,” so it helped SEO specialists understand how websites were indexed and ranked in Search.
Cached links have slowly disappeared from Search results, so this isn’t a sudden turn of events. Again, the death of cached links has been rumored for some time. Danny Sullivan, the Google Search Liaison, says that the feature was killed off because its original purpose (viewing websites that were down) is rarely useful on the modern web.
If you need to view old versions of websites, check out the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. You can access the Wayback Machine more quickly by using the browser extension on Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge.
Danny Sullivan hopes that Google will replace cached links with Wayback Machine links, though this decision isn’t in the hands of the Search Liaison. In any case, the Internet Archive is a nonprofit digital library, and it intentionally keeps archived web pages off of Google for privacy purposes. Linking from Google Search to specific pages on the Wayback Machine may have both ethical and financial implications.
Interestingly, you can still access Google’s cached web pages by appending the “cache:” prefix to a URL in Search. But this functionality is on its way out. Note that you may also encounter cached links in the “About this result” panel for some websites—evidently, Google is still in the process of dismantling everything.