Issues with Cached at Google

Clicking on Google's cached link for a web page (html) almost always make hits to the live website, 
unless you do specific edits to reach a cached_text_only version of the web page.
( note: cached links for file types such as pdf, ppt, doc are already cached_text_only)

Russ Portrait

A typical Google Search hit:

google cache

Clicking on a cached link downloads the text of a web page from Google's cache to your browser.   Google does not cache the embedded multimedia such as the graphics.  So your browser will make hits directly on the live website to download the remainder of the webpage.

Want to jump directly to Google's cached "text only" version of a webpage?  Try this process:

  1. Suppose you want to view the following webpage: www.navigators.com/isp.html  but with zero hits to navigators.com
  2. First cut and paste this  following text into the top of  your web browser: 
  3.         http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?strip=1&q=cache:
  4. Now add the URL you are interested in viewing onto the end of that text.  For this isp.html example, the address in your web browser should now look like this:
  5.        http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?strip=1&q=cache:www.navigators.com/isp.html
  6. Make sure there is no space after "cache:"  and the start of your URL.
  7. Now hit Enter on your keyboard.   This should take directly to Google's text only cached version of the web page (= Zero hits to the target websites)
  8. Note: This works IF you can copy and paste the URL (in green) of the desired website.   Some URL's have " . . . "  in the middle of them. In such cases you can attempt to "right-click/copy link" the blue hyperlink instead.  That link will be "hijacked" by Google, so you will need to edit it some of the techniques listed in the "feb 2013" section at the bottom of this page.

Many internet  researchers incorrectly assume that clicking on Google's "cached" in a search result will only make hits to Google, and make no hits to the search target's website. Truth is, clicking on "cached" will almost always result in unusual hits to the target web server. Consider the following sequence of events.

  1. You click on Google's cached link for a search result
  2. The Text of that web page downloads from Google's cache to your computer.
  3. Your computer displays the text of that cached web page in your browser.
  4. The text web page ( in your browser) will now begin to download any embedded multimedia on that page (graphics, animations, flash plug-ins, sound, video etc)
  5. Such embedded multimedia, is downloaded directly from the target website by your browser.  Google only caches the text of the page; any graphics, sounds, etc. are downloaded by you from the target website.
  6. The target webserver now has hits from your persona asking for just the multi-media of a web page, but has no hits from you for the text of the page itself.  The webmaster now knows that you are viewing the text of the web page from some other resource (such as Google's cache or a language translation site)
  7. If your browser leaks http_referrer, then the downloaded graphics will leak a referrer along the lines of::
     google_cache_/_URL_of web_page_from_cache_/_Your_search_terms_used_to_find_page

Google cache causes live hits

Let me walk you through the history of  using Google's cached search links over the past many years.  This page assumes you are already familiar with persona concepts described on persona tips .

1997-2009:  Google does offer a "Cached text only" version of the web page, but normally you can't get to the text-only cached page until you first view the regular version of Google's cached page (which by then will have downloaded the embedded multimedia from the target site).  Here is the work around:

  1. In the Google search result, Right-click on the cached link. 
  2. Select "copy shortcut"  or "copy link location" depending on your type of browser. (This copied hyperlink is for the regular cached copy of the web page which will include multimedia)
  3. click into the web browser's address box and paste-in the cached URL you just copied
  4. Now you need to EDIT the URL by adding the following text onto the end of the URL:  &strip=1
  5. Now hit enter on the keyboard, and that should take you directly to the "text only" version of Google's cached copy of the web page.  This means that the target website will not see any hits  from your research.  However Google will still know that you are viewing the cached copy of the web page.

2009-2012:  Google has implemented an  annoying "feature" of running a JavaScript on their search page as you click on a search result or cached link in the search results.   This JavaScript re-designs the hyperlinks to lead back to Google so Google can track what search links you are clicking on.  The cutting/pasting/&strip=1 technique will only work IF Google is not "hijacking" its own search results.     If the &strip=1 technique is not working, you need to disable JavaScript in your browser.   Disabling the JavaScript prevents Google from hijacking the cached link.  In a work environment, ask tech support for help to disable JavaScript. . UPDATE - Disabling JavaScript worked until Feb 2013 -  Keep reading below to see what happened in 2013) 

2011-present: Google search results no longer display a "cached" option directly in Google's search results.  This change  happened as Google implemented a new "feature" called "instant preview".  In your Google search results, hover your mouse over a search hit that you are interested in.  While hovering over the hit... A pair of  >> arrows should appear just to the right of the hit.  Now hover your mouse over the >>, and a small screen shot of the web page should appear.  I can confirm that this "instant preview thumbshot" is causing live hits on the target website from Google, as Google goes out in real time to grab the web page from the target website to make the thumbshot .  Repeat.. Displaying the "instant preview" of a search hit causes live hits to the target web server from Google.  The target web master will know that his web page is being "instant previewed" in a Google search.  Google also decided that the "cached" link should now be displayed in the "instant preview" window pane.  There are many researchers who are angry with Google about this as shown on this thread.       From 2011 onward, you can no longer get to Google's cached link to copy/paste/&strip=1 without invoking the "instant preview" pane (which will cause live hits to the target web server).  The fix once again is to disable JavaScript in your browser.  This would eliminate the entire "instant preview" feature... and Cached once again is listed directly in the Google's search results where it had always been for the past 15 years. BUT this solution only worked until Feb 2013.

Feb 2013 - current:   By now you have previously disabled JavaScript in your browser.  And you had successfully been able to "leap" directly to the "text only" version of cached, by copying & pasting cached links and adding   &strip=1 onto the end of the cached  address.  But once again Google  has managed to ruin it.  When Google detects that JavaScript is disabled in your  browser, Google now sends search results to you with ALL the links pre-hijacked back to Google.  Adding &strip=1 onto the end of a hijacked cached link does not work - you end up viewing a full version of the cached page with all of its embedded graphics, etc being downloaded by you directly  from the target website. 

I do have a solution for this.. but it is UGLY and tedious.  You have to essentially copy and paste the cached address... and then EDIT the heck out of it to remove all the Google Hijacking.  Only then can you add &strip=1 onto the end of the corrected cached link to directly view the "text only" version of the target webpage from Google's cached ( = zero hit on the target website)

The Google hijacking has made the following changes to the cached URL:

Here is what a cached link looks like that has been hijacked by Google, followed by  the same cached link without being hijacked

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=isp+backbone+maps&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CEoQIDAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwebcache.googleusercontent.com%2Fsearch%3Fq%3Dcache%3Aq73OkFyPlu4J%3Anavigators.com%2Fisp.html%2Bisp%2Bbackbone%2Bmaps%26cd%3D1%26hl%3Den%26ct%3Dclnk%26gl%3Dus&ei=KLslUfSeFKnj0QHJ44DADA&usg=AFQjCNEQ_vy0tcHAGhUCcONsSlhc7l-Ofw

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:q73OkFyPlu4J:navigators.com/isp.html+isp+backbone+maps&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Here is the ugly procedure to fix this. 

  1. Copy and paste the hijacked cached  link from a Google search page (right click - copy link).
  2. In the URL, locate the text:  webcache.google.com.....   Delete ALL text before webcache.google.com.
  3. In the URL, locate the text:  clnk             Delete ALL  text after clnk

The resulting URL still needs to be edited to remove the ASCII/Hex codes.  Below you can compare a partial example of what your link now looks like, vs what it should look like without any hijacking.  Note I have inserted blank spaces in the second address so you can see the text lined-up.  When you do the edits, do not leave any spaces in the final URL.

webcache.googleusercontent.com%2Fsearch%3Fq%3Dcache%3Aq73OkFyPlu4J%3Anavigators.com%2Fisp.html_etc_etc_etc
webcache.googleusercontent.com / search ? q = cache : q73OkFyPlu4J : navigators.com / isp.html

In this example above "%2F" needs to be replaced with just "/" ,  " %3F" needs to be replaced with "?", etc.  

Here is a list of edits you may  need to change:

Finally.... after all these edits... don't forget to add   &strip=1  onto the end of the cleaned-up url. And hit enter to leap the text-only version of Google's cached.      I know... this is an ugly tedious  fix.

April 2013 - current  = the technique described at the very top of this page.  
You start with this address:   http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?strip=1&q=cache:  
and add to the end of it the specific URL you are interested in for example:
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?strip=1&q=cache:www.navigators.com/isp.html  
you will need the complete URL of the target web page  - which you can extract from Google's hijacked cached links using the techniques described in "Feb 2013 - current" section of this web page.

 Maybe eventually some clever plug-ins might be developed similar to these  (sorry  - the plug ins below do NOT solve the current Google hijacking issue)


Russ Haynal -  Internet Instructor and Speaker

Contact me at 703-729-1757 or  Russ 'at' navigators.com  
If you use email, put "internet training" in the subject of the email.
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