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Utilizing the Wayback Machine for SEO

by Andy Romain | 02.03.2015

The Wayback Machine from the non-profit Internet Archive organization is one of the coolest tools that I use on a regular basis. The tool isn’t intended for SEO but you can use it for search engine optimization with great results.

Brief History of the Wayback Machine

The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information like books, movies and music. The tool was created by the Internet Archive, a non-profit organization, based in San Francisco, California. The service enables users to see archived versions of web pages across time and since 1996, they have been archiving cached pages of websites.

Generally speaking, they revisit sites every few weeks or months and archive a new version if the content has changed. Prominent webpages like the homepages of and appear to be archived up to 30 or more times per day on average. The intent is to capture and archive content that would otherwise be lost whenever a site is changed or closed down. Their grand vision is to archive the entire Internet!

Wayback Machine Interface

The tool is incredibly easy to use, simply enter in the URL and you will be presented with a neat graph and calendar with visual elements depicting when and how often the URL has been archived over time.

History of

Wayback Machine Interface

Wayback Machine in Action

The two screenshots below of’s homepage in 2006 and in 2015 show just how powerful this tool is: in 2006's Homepage in 2006 in 2015's Homepage in 2015

From the archived webpage you can even attempt to click around to other archived pages or view the page source which means that the archived page is not simply a static image or a screenshot.

Usage in SEO

The Wayback Machine has three major uses in SEO:

  1. Researching older links that may have disappeared
  2. Tracking website modifications that resulted in traffic changes
  3. Using archived pages as evidence

Researching older links that may have disappeared

Track website modifications that resulted in traffic changes

Using archived pages as evidence

The above assumes that the webpages in question are archived of course. I have come across instances of inner pages not being archived, especially for less popular sites. I have also come across a few sites which block the Wayback Machine in their robots.txt file altogether. Regardless, given that 455 billion web pages are currently archived by the Wayback Machine, especially top-level pages from what I can see, it has plenty to offer as a quality SEO Tool.

Speaking of Wayback machine, here is our insight into Google Time Dimension.