Archive.org has compiled over 240 billion cached web pages dating back to 1996. Their “waybackmachine” tool allows users to type in a website url and choose a month/year…the user is then presented with cached pages of the website from the chosen date.
So how are these archives useful? Well for one, it’s a good way to get insight into the web strategies of your competition. For example, I’m a graphic designer…so I did a url search of a couple of well known graphic designers of today. These designers have achieved a strong subscriber base by means of their website/blog. By looking at cached versions of their sites dating back to their infancy, I was able to see what website changes they had made and how those changes effected their subscriber base numbers.
I was even able to view early versions of my own website. It’s so strange seeing the changes from then to now. One thing I noticed with the “waybackmachine” search is that some websites (facebook for example) show no results at all. The following message appears: “page can not be crawled or displayed due to robots.txt”. And with other sites, sometimes the pages are missing certain images or look jumbled. Aside from the negatives, the archives are still worth a visit.