Friday, February 2, 2024

Google Removes Cache Link From Search Results

Barry Schwartz (via Hacker News):

Now when you click the three dots for more information for a search result snippet, the cache button is missing.

[…]

So how do you access the cache? Just Google cache:domain.com.

You can also set up a bookmarklet:

javascript:location.href='http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:'+document.location.href;

Jon Porter:

Danny Sullivan has confirmed. “It was meant for helping people access pages when way back, you often couldn’t depend on a page loading,” Sullivan wrote on X. “These days, things have greatly improved. So, it was decided to retire it.”

The cache feature historically let you view a webpage as Google sees it, which is useful for a variety of different reasons beyond just being able to see a page that’s struggling to load. SEO professionals could use it to debug their sites or even keep tabs on competitors, and it can also be an enormously helpful news gathering tool, giving reporters the ability to see exactly what information a company has added (or removed) from a website, and a way to see details that people or companies might be trying to scrub from the web. Or, if a site is blocked in your region, Google’s cache can work as a great alternative to a VPN.

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No cache in Google searches is a deal breaker! Bye Google!

I would agree this is a bummer to lose such a helpful tool, but it turns out I rarely use Google search anymore. I was explaining the feature to my family and friends and my admittedly small circle of people I just told about the removal, maybe 5 people, had never used it nor heard of it. I can understand the cost cutting if most people do not take advantage of the feature. Then again, the Fuchsia OS expenditures¹ could have paid for a lot of useful features to have stuck around, such as site caching and more importantly to me, HTML only Gmail. I really miss the latter, it worked so well and incredibly quickly to serve email. Shame to see it go.

¹My understanding is the Fuchsia team has been hit relatively hard by layoffs and restructuring and still only powers a few devices.

Arse. I wouldn't say it was useless today either—there are still sites that don't load when you visit them at the time—but actually the main reason I used the cache was for PDF files. Even in-browser support for PDF has never been great, and it's still work to download and properly render and/or OCR them in many cases where you just want the textual information out of them that Google have already extracted. So I'm going to miss this. :(

I switched to Bing years ago, as they were better than Google and didn't track as bad (and I got paid in Xbox gift cards which is nice).

However, both are pretty bad these days, and just repeat the same thing over and over again and are way less helpful in actual finding content. I've been using Brave more often these days.

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