I am constantly looking at cached copies of web pages through Google’s cache. It’s a wonderful way to double-check that your content is showing up the way you want it to and quickly tell if Googlebot has noticed any recent changes you’ve made. It’s also a great way to sniff out some rather “brave” techniques on behalf of your competition.
As a primer, you can view the cached version of any web page by typing cache:URL in a Google search box, where URL is any full URL string. For example,
will show a cached copy of the home page of United.com:
United's Google cache
But beyond the normal cached version, I prefer to look at the text-only cache. The pink rectangle above shows the link to the text-only cached version. Clicking this shows you a version of the page much more like what a robot really sees.
But sometimes because of the site layout, the box at the top of the cached page doesn’t appear. Consequently, the link to the “text only” version of the cached copy is hidden — as in this sample shot from the BMW USA home page:
Because of the way BMW is laid out, the link to the text-only cache is hidden
When this happens, the text-only cached version is still not hard to find. Simply append
to the URL of the regular cached version, and you’ll see the text-only cache.
Now to take this to the next level (if you’re a Firefox user … and you are, right?), here’s how to use Firefox Quicksearch Bookmarks to find the cache of a page so fast you’ll amaze your friends and stun your competition.
(If the concept of Quicksearch Bookmarks is new to you, get some background here and here. It’s a way to search any site from the Firefox address field. Trust me: If you search a lot, you will LOVE this.)
When you create a new Quicksearch bookmark, here’s the data to use:
Name: Google Text Cache
Keyword: tc
So typing this in Firefox’s Address field:
tc www.yahoo.com
will show you this. Pretty cool, huh?