Google’s cache view is a valuable window into how googlebot “sees” a site. I find myself stalking the cache every couple of days in an effort to untangle architectural challenges to my SEO objectives. When I’m having difficulty helping colleagues understand why content or links are or aren’t crawlable, I often take them to the cache view as a quick and easy visual. Once they see what the bots see, from the googlebot itself, the conversation around how to resolve the issue is usually much easier. I wanted to include it in my article on advanced search operators at Pratical eCommerce last week, but I hit the word count cap. So here’s the scoop on cache.
As a human I am able to use the drop down menus to navigate to the main areas of the site, quickly consume many of Dell’s priority messages from the static feature boxes and the flash carousel, and browse the basic HTML links toward the bottom of the page. Dell makes its marketing priorities very clear and easy to understand… for humans with modern browsers. But what about the bots? What content can they consume? Let’s take a look at the cache view [cache:www.dell.com]:
With the cache view the page looks remarkably similar. There’s a gray header at the top of the page indicating that Google last cached this page on Oct 4, 2010 18:22:07 GMT, one hour and one minute ago at the time of this article. So any changes that Dell made to the site in the last 61 minutes will not be reflected in this cache view. That’s a very important note when you’re trying to confirm the crawlability of some new architectural change — make sure the change has been cached before you start analyzing the cache view.
Note: The cache: operator only works on Google, but Yahoo Site Explorer offers a cache link on each page in its report as well. Bing does not support the cache: operator.