Although not intended for search optimization, the Wayback Machine is an incredibly useful tool for reviewing your website and making improvements to boost rankings and improve your overall SEO strategy.
This tool is essentially an internet archive that allows you to view how websites looked ‘way back’ then.
Designed as a digital archive, the Wayback Machine doesn’t only offer information about the World Wide Web—it also contains useful data about movies, books, music, and the like. It was created by a non-profit organization known as the Internet Archive and was originally intended to allow users to see archived versions of different web pages through the years. The Way Back Machine has been archiving websites’ cached pages since 1996. A great window to the past, this tool can be an excellent SEO resource if you know how to use it. Here are some smart and creative ways to use the Way Back Machine for SEO:
1. Reviewing site changes
One of the more popular uses of the Wayback Machine for SEO is reviewing sites for changes that occurred over a range of time. This is a great way to determine what caused a drop in your page rankings, pinpointing exact changes that could have affected your search placement negatively. With this kind of intelligence, you can begin planning to remedy the problem.
2. Re-establishing old ties
The Wayback Machine is also a great resource for finding old link partnerships and redirect opportunities. It isn’t uncommon for businesses that started building their brand early through the World Wide Web to lose touch of old link partnerships. In many cases, sites go through major relaunches without considering optimization, causing them to lose major link partnerships. Reclaiming these partnerships is possible with the help of the Wayback Machine, which allows you to rediscover old link partners to reestablish critical linking relationships with.
3. Gaining site familiarity
SEO professionals also use the Wayback Machine to familiarize themselves with new client sites, helping them get to know their brand better. Not only does the tool allow users to see how much a site has changed—it also enables SEO specialists to get a sense of the brand’s voice as well as how much it has changed through the years. Search optimizers and marketers that are working on content initiatives and branding find the tool useful in keeping true to the brand’s voice as well as in coping with the changes that the brand has gone through.
4. Examining robots.txt files
A great way to detect crawlability and similar technical issues, the Wayback machine offers an excellent resource because it indexes everything that it can find on a website, including its robots.txt files. Examining these resources and comparing data around the time the issue began surfacing will help you find changes that could have triggered the problem.
5. Validating analytics codes
The Wayback Machine likewise indexes page source codes. This enables users to retrieve old codes from pages, enabling the review of past code placements and whether or not tags were properly implemented. Depending on how a website was coded, analytics code review is also useful when it comes to event tracking.
6. Identifying site structure
Another great use for the Wayback Machine is rediscovering old site structure and past taxonomy or hierarchy of different site elements. By looking at the way that a website was organized, it is easier to identify which pages have been consolidated into particular categories and which have been expanded to form separate pages.
The Wayback Machine is an excellent tool for looking into and learning from a website’s old structure, design, content, and overall appearance—elements that play critical roles in search optimization and marketing.Need more SEO tips like this? Consult with our optimization experts at SEOValley.