Internet Archive launched a new tool called the ‘Wayback Machine’ under the URL archive.org, in 2001. The main objective of this tool was to build a digital diary of Internet history. This will help to make the content available for future generations of researchers, historians and scholars. This data is also valuable for marketers and SEO professionals.
The Wayback Machine is a useful tool to view how your website looked in the previous versions. You can see the URL from any website and check how they have come since the early days of the internet.
To use this tool you can put your URL in the search box of Archive.org and choose a date where you think the code may have changed. The cached pages from the archive will get loaded into your browser with a header from Archive.org. You can open the source code of the page and compare it with the current website.
You can use the Wayback Machine to improve your SEO strategy as follows:
1. The snapshots from the Wayback Machine can be used to compare a website’s rendered appearance on different dates. This will help you to determine the cause of the drop in the rankings. You will be able to find out what changes may have affected the ranking negatively. You can fix this problem.
2. To offer solutions to a new client you need to familiarise with their website. You can use the Wayback Machine for this purpose. You can see how the website has changed over the years. You can talk about the changes to the client. For those who are working on branding and content creation this can be very useful.
3. Find old redirect opportunities with this tool. You can find old URLs that existed at a time on the site which may need a redirect after years of changes. Use Wayback Machine with Screaming Frog to make a list URLs and check their status codes. You can find old URLs which were never redirected to the live versions. You will not be able to discover it otherwise.
4. When you change the URL structure of your website the old structure is forgotten. This can cause problems while pulling data. You can use the Wayback Machine if you remember when the changes were made. You can find what were the changes done and what the old structure used to be. You can map the old URLs with the new counterparts.
The Wayback Machine indexes everything it finds on the website including the robots.txt file. If your website is facing crawlability or technical issues then you can find the date when those changes causing the issues were made to the robots.txt file. You just have to use the Wayback Machine and search for the robots.txt and compare around the time the problem started.
During website migration you can use this tool to get the old version of the robots.txt file if you do not have the original version of the file and the file has changed.
The Wayback Machine helps you to understand what type of changes your competitor has made to their content. You can get valuable information while doing competitive analysis. You can use tools like Diffchecker to find the differences in the content.
You can also find out how frequently your competitor changes content. This tool is useful where the content freshness matters for visibility.
This tool indexes the source code for pages as well. You can retrieve and view the old code from the previous pages. You can look at the past analytics code placement.
Depending on how the website was coded you can use this tool for event tracking too.
You can use this tool to compare a path you are seeing currently to the way it looked in the past to check what elements have changed. This can help you discover CRO opportunities.
This tool shows you what the past hierarchy of the website looked like. You will get an idea about which pages have been put into categories or expanded to separate pages.
You can use the Wayback Machine to find the old content that may have got deleted or lost within a website.
The Wayback Machine can be used to perform a marketing mix analysis. For example, If a paid search did very well last time but is not doing very well this year then you can use this tool to examine the keyword to landing page combination of the previous time. You can find out what was doing well.
Using this tool you can compare anything that is different from the current website. You can see the cross-links, words used on the pages and even if the website has been hacked during a particular period.