Google cache hack: See what Google sees

I’m pretty sure I stole this from another SEO, but because I’ve been using it as the first step of  basic SEO testing  for so long, I’ve completely forgotten where I got this. But today I was reminded of  what a great little hack it is when a colleague asked me how I  always know what Google sees when it indexes a page.  Use this hack when when people ask  “Is Google indexing this page?” or “Why does Google not index my content?” and they will think you have Google x-ray vision.

(Pro-tip: Usually when you have a page in a site with no other major indexing problems that is not surfacing in Google, it is a JS or AJAX issue and Google cache is the first step in diagnosing this problem)

Google cache is nothing new, but if you add it to your browser bookmarks you can immediately view what is happening in Google the moment someone IMs you a URL and asks “Why does Google hate this URL?”.

How to Add Google cache to your browser bookmarks to instantly view Google’s view of your page

  • Right-click in your browser shell (under your URL field, usually) and, depending on what browser you are using, you will either have the option to “Add a bookmark” or “Add a page” or something similar.  I’m using Firefox and Chrome on a windows machine in the examples below:

Chrome bookmark view

Chrome bookmark view



ffbookmark view

Firefox bookmark view



  • In the location field (Firefox) or URL field  (Chrome) enter:
  • Add the bookmark to whatever browser you do most of your SEOing in and anytime you wonder what Google is seeing on a page just enter the page in your browser and then click your “Google Cache” bookmark window and you will see when Google last indexed the page, what URL Google indexed, and what that index looked like.

Google cache FF browser
Viewing the URL in Google cache is a great way to determine if you have any weird redirect problems (self-inflicted or otherwise).  Also, I usually click on the “Text-only version” of the page so that I can actually see if Google can see the words I think this page should be indexed under.  This is another great way to diagnose rendering issues and/or text that looks like text but is actually images (basic SEO).

Text-only version Google cache

Text-only version Google cache


I’ve used a lot of SEO tools over the years, but this Google cache hack remains the standard first step in diagnosing Google indexing problems. And remember: spidering, indexing, and ranking are different things.  If you do not see a cache for a page it does not mean Google has not spidered it, and if you see a cache for a page and you are still not ranking for what you think you should be ranking for, remember all this proves is that Google has a cache for your page — no promises were made.  Also, the  ranking you see is not necessarily the ranking everyone else sees for your page.

Using Ubuntu to recover files on an unmountable windows harddrive

Recently I experienced what all web workers dread: the blue screen of death (aka, the BSOD). And on a Monday morning as I tried to boot up for my 6am status call, no less.  After I tried every last trick in the book to get my laptop to boot (last known good, safe mode, etc.) and used every single curse word I knew, it was time to move onto the many stages of data loss.  I didn’t have a sense of what was in my laptop and what was in the cloud, but I did know it had been at least 7 months since my last major backup. It was bad, at the very least everything I had been working on for the past few weeks was probably lost.  So, after confirming with the helpdesk what I already knew and arranging to have a new HDD shipped next day air from Lenovo (it arrived the next morning!) I moved on to getting the data out of my dead harddrive

And this is how I came to be converted to Linux.  Randomly, in my desperate  searches I came across this article Use Ubuntu Live CD to Backup Files from Your Dead Windows Computer.  The directions are extremely clear and I was able to go to the Ubuntu site, download Ubuntu Live, use Disk Utility on my Mac to burn a disk, and then boot my Lenovo with the disk (one tip, Lenovos and Thinkpads often require you to hold down f12 to boot from a disk).

I was lucky, because I was able to access my Windows files this way and download them all onto my external HDD (and yes, it would have been great if I’d done that before my laptop crashed).

I also bought a harddrive enclosure and attempted to access my old HDD that way once my new HDD was installed, but it would not be recognized.  I imagine YMMV, so that is also an option if booting from Ubuntu does not work for an installed HDD.