The Case Of The Missing White House Cached Page On Google

In my story about Google’s new content removal tools, I highlighted the fact that anyone can potentially wipe out the cached copy of a page, even if they aren’t the page’s author. To illustrate this, I was going to use as an example how the official George W. Bush page’s cached copy could get nixed. To my amazement, I found the cached copy was gone already. Had the White House decided to wipe out the cache, perhaps as damage control after the page started ranking for "failure" again recently? And why were Yahoo, Live.com and Ask still showing cached versions of that page? Was the White House — gasp! – cloaking only Google with a noarchive command?

Not at all! But it was a real mystery. As it turns out, some pages that Google revisits on a super-fast basis — pages that have dates next to them in the listings — might no longer have cached pages showing even when they should. Google says this is due to a bug they’re now checking on.

To illustrate this, look below:

Google Cache & Page Dates

Notice how any pages from the whitehouse.gov site with dates next to them do NOT have cached copies? And pages with dates DO have cached copies?

I see the same thing with other sites (site:searchengineland.com, for example) but I can also see it NOT happening in some cases (site:cnn.com, for example).

As I said, Google’s now aware of the issue and looking into it. And why do some pages get dates? Squeezing The Search Loaf: Finding Search Engine Freshness & Crawl Dates from me earlier this year explains that in much more depth.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Search Features: General

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • http://www.feedthebot.com feedthebot

    TeeHee,

    You have discovered something very interesting, I have a theory on this and I was wondering if Google has said anything at all else about missing cached pages (other than it is a bug and they are aware of it)

  • http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/ Matt Cutts

    Special thanks to Vanessa Fox and Evan Roseman for digging into this. Danny, you’re correct that the url removal tool has nothing to do with this and you’re correct that it’s occurring for some documents that we are refreshing very quickly. I don’t think it’s that hard to show the cached links, but I’m not sure of the timeframe (e.g. few days vs. a few weeks).

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