How You Can Use the Wayback Machine for SEO

Vasiliy Pupkin Tetiana

Sometimes simple tools can surprise and come in handy in unexpected circumstances. The Wayback Machine takes snapshots of web pages and stores them in a database that is available to everyone. Any user can view snapshots of pages of almost any site.

How can the Wayback Machine feature be useful for SEO promotion?

1. Find old URLs of previous site versions

One of the useful functions is the search for the addresses of pages from which there was no redirect. The Wayback Machine can store in the database snapshots of pages that are decades old. It is useful to look into the history of the domain, if previous webmasters did not pay due attention to setting up redirects from old pages.

Using the Wayback Machine, you can find all the old URLs that were never redirected to the live versions.

The Wayback Machine makes it easy to find outdated versions of important content from the previous design of your site. Then you can find redirected URLs that you probably never would have found otherwise.

2. Find the historical content of a specific page

Page content is changing all the time. If you suddenly notice a drawdown in positions or traffic on the page after making some changes, you can check the historical content on the page through the Wayback Machine and return it back. 

Restoring content to its original version can help your content regain lost visibility.

historical content in wayback machine

3. Find the old robots.txt file

Another useful feature of the Wayback Machine is to check how the robots.txt file has been changed over time. This can be especially useful when migrating a site and your robots.txt file has changed and you don't have a version of the original file.

4. What blocks competitors add to their pages

Webmasters of the sites in competitive niches regularly add or update content on the pages - add keywords, additional blocks, etc. These changes may be related to the addition of the FAQ block, content linking, CTA blocks.

This is valuable information that you need to have when working with competitor analysis. These changes may affect the strategy we apply to promote our own page.

The service will help you identify changes in the text.

5. How often do competitors update content?

This is especially useful if you work in a niche where the freshness of content matters for visibility - news resources, political publications.

Technology moves at a very fast pace, it's likely that terms like "best Android phones" need relevance as products change frequently. Therefore, we may want to find out how often we need to update our own content in order to stay competitive.

For example, it may turn out that a competitor pays a lot of attention to the page and updates its content every month. You may want to apply the same tactic to your similar page to stay competitive.

checking content update with wayback machine

Final words

You can use Wayback Machine in several ways to recover lost information and gain insight about competitor strategies. We recommend making sure the Wayback Machine is in your SEO toolkit. Do you have some questions? Let us know in the comments.

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