A cache is the temporary storage of data for faster data delivery on future requests. Google caches website pages as part of indexing.
Caching in general is the process of temporarily storing data in such a way that it can be served up quicker on future requests. Caching is popular with websites as part of speed improvements and limiting the volume of requests to a server. Common caching scenarios include caching for WordPress, caching for API requests and search index caching.
What is Google Cache?
Google cache is a copy of a webpage stored on Google servers as a snapshot in case the page becomes unavailable for any reason. Pages on a website form a part of Google’s cache which, can be used to serve up the last known version of the page if the page becomes unavailable.
Caching from Google is only used to serve the page if it becomes unavailable. Google does not serve up cached versions of a page unless requested.
Why is Caching Important for SEO?
Caching does not directly benefit SEO. Instead, caching performance and render view are ways to understand:
- How often is Google caching your page? (The frequency can give insights into the pages top level index value)
- How did your page look when the page was last crawled?
Using caching we can ascertain:
- How often is Google crawling and updating the cache for the specified URL?
- How Google saw the page on the last crawl – this is a great way to identify any anomalies such as hidden link spam, rendering issues and more
Identifying pages that have poor caching performance is a great way to identify pages that need to be updated more regularly + linked to more internally.
How do you view a Cached Version of a Web Page?
There are multiple ways to view a cached version of a specified URL. Google’s guidance is to:
- On your computer, do a Google search for the page you want to find.
- Click the green down arrow to the right of the site’s URL.
- Click Cached.
- When you’re on the cached page, click the current page link to get back to the live page.
Alternatively, if you use Google Chrome, you can simply add the cache: command in front of the website URL you want to check.
So in front of your URL you simply put cache: so your URL would appear as: cache:https//www.yourwebsite.co.uk/my-page
This will show the cached version of the URL.
How do I find when my URL was last cached?
If you follow the instructions above by entering cache:https://www.yourwebsite.co.uk in to your Chrome browser bar or by visiting google.co.uk/google.com and searching for the whole URL string with cache: in front, you will see your page.
At the top of the page there will be a grey bar with a date indicator of when Google last cached the page.
When doing a cache: Search I get an Error Page from Google?
This is likely because the page is not cached, or, that you haven;t entered the query correctly. If you have entered the cache/URL string correctly and still get the error message then the page is not cached.
There are many reasons why a page might not be cached including:
- If the page is new and has not been indexed it won’t be cached
- If the page is blocked from Google via meta robots / robots
- If the page has the no-caching directive applied
- If the page has malware or other known codes/scripts that are considered malicious
- If Googlebot had issues rendering the page
- If the page was unavailable at the time of crawling/request
Some people are and have been seeing caching issues as a result of the roll-out of Google’s split mobile index. The split from Google Desktop and Mobile Index has left a lot of webmasters and SEOs experiencing cache issues.
How often does Google update its cache?
Caching frequency is entirely dependent on your website / page performance. Caching performance on your website is likely to be impacted by things such as:
- How often is content on your website/page updated?
- How is your page linked internally on the website?
- How many external links point to the page on your website?
- How fast is the page to load/render?
- How authoritive is the website/domain?
How do I get Google to Cache my Website Pages more often?
Most caching issues relate to how a page is linked to internally + content update frequency. If, for example you post a blog on your website that is ONLY available via a top level blog link and that blog is never updated, expect the caching performance to be slower. To improve site / page level caching performance simply improve internal page linking / internal link structure, build links externally to internal pages, share pages on social media & google my business and, most importantly, periodically tweak the content to keep it fresh.