Recently, I’ve been interested in understanding if implementing an instruction to remove the cache link using the “noarchive” tag has any impact on your search engine traffic and rankings.
As Dave puts it:
So the only reason I can see why I should leave the Google Cached link is so that other people can see what my website looks like in Googles eyes and why would I do that ?
I tend to agree. In fact, why is that cached page link there? It hardly inspires confidence to most (ordinary) visitors if your site is down, so the common reasoning from Google behind having a cached link available seems weak at best.
What are the alternatives to the cached view if you’re an SEO?
It’s easy enough to come up with reasons why the Google cached view is useful to an SEO, but there are other ways to replicate a similar, if not exactly the same view of a page if you’re doing on-page diagnostic work.
Other options include viewing your site using Lynx or SEO Browser, though I’m all about doing SEO with Firefox and Chrome.
“You’ve missed Fetch as Googlebot tool!”, I hear you say! Apparently, the tool has limitations. If you think about the technology used to fetch a HTML page and render it from a cached copy in a real crawler “user search” situation, it’s hardly likely that Google’s fetch tool would exactly replicate their real life crawl. Not to mention that, if the tool was a perfect replication of a Google crawl, it might expose security problems or flaws in Googlebot’s base code. Cool.
Now you see it…
Now you don’t…
For purposes of pure interest, I added the noarchive tag at 3.30pm, Wednesday 11th November. I first noticed the cached link had gone at 9.43am on Thursday 12th November. Of course, the cached page delivered via the “cache:” query in Google still appears (4.12pm Thursday):
It’s interesting to point out that, regardless of the noarchive instruction, the cached URL of my site still works with a current cached date of 13th November at 08:21:19 GMT.
The impact on SERPS and traffic
There has been no impact on my search results and traffic remains quite healthy. I’ve been monitoring my top 100 keywords in Google UK, Bing and Yahoo for the last few days. Needless to say, nothing has happened yet and I genuinely doubt that it will. Of course, if I discover anything then I’ll be sure to let you know on Twitter.
As with all things SEO, I advise you to do your own tests. Just rest assured that implementing the noarchive tag in your header will not hurt you in the short term, at least.