How to use the Wayback Machine to your business advantage

As the digital world is constantly changing, businesses need to keep their websites updated to stay relevant and improve their search engine optimization. But you don’t have to be Marty McFly Back to the Future Visit the Past When it comes to visiting the web pages of yesteryear, the Wayback DeLorean car has plutonium.

Using historical data can help you research your business, analyze your competition, learn more about potential customers, and troubleshoot website issues.

What is the Wayback Machine?

The Internet Archive is a digital library founded as a non-profit organization in 1996. It also stores movies, music, books, software, print materials, and television content. In 2001, the Internet Archive created the Wayback Machine to store and archive website information.

Users can view and review archived versions of web pages on the Wayback Machine. These pages date back to 1996 and more than 839 billion web pages have been archived.

How to Archive Your Web Pages on the Wayback Machine

There may be a delay between when a website is crawled and when it is available for archiving. If you make changes to your website, you may want to archive those changes for future reference.

Your website may be automatically archived, so check for availability. However, you may still want to archive after or before making any changes.

To archive a site or blog in the Wayback Machine, go to the website address you want to archive. Then type Place in front of the URL in the address bar and remove it http:// or https:// at the web address

One of the ways to archive a website in the Wayback Machine.

You can also access the car on the way back Enter the address of the page you want to archive in the Save Page Now field and click Save Page to archive.

The screenshot shows how to archive a website in the Wayback Machine.
Another way to archive a website in the Wayback Machine.

The time required to save depends on the screen size. After the archive is complete, you will see a link and other elements recorded in the snapshot.

Screenshot after archiving the website.
The Wayback Machine displays a list of all the elements recorded in the snapshot.

You can then see the archived page, which looks similar, but with the Wayback Machine information at the top.

Screenshot from archived website.
Take a look at the archived site. Note the Wayback Machine information at the top of the page.

4 Ways to Use the Wayback Machine to Benefit Your Business

There are four ways the Wayback Machine can help organizations with archived sites and content.

1. Check out the quiz

The Wayback Machine allows your business to see what competitors are doing and gain insights into marketing and strategy, content updates, and sales promotions. To do this, enter the competing URL into the Wayback Machine to get a timeline of dated snapshots.

Screenshot of adding a website address to the Wayback Machine search bar.
Add the website address to the Wayback Machine search bar.

The timeline dates back to 1996, so select the year, month, and day to view archived pages. You can also see how often competitors update content by selecting a time frame and checking the days. For example, from April 2023 to May 2023, you can view all pages and see what updates have been made.

The screenshot shows the history of archived websites.
Display the dates that the website was crawled and archived.

Select a date to view changes. The snapshot times for that date will then appear. Different points on the calendar mean the following:

  • Blue is a good result. Full page archived without errors.
  • Green means change of direction.
  • Orange indicates a client error.
  • Red indicates a server error.

Look for the blue dots and click on one of the bars for best results.

The screenshot shows how to select the archived site.
Select the date and time of the archived site.

Here is a screenshot of the WhatIs TechTarget site on April 13, 2023 at 3:15 am.

Screenshot from TechTarget WhatIs site.
WhatIs TechTarget on April 13, 2023 at 3:15 am

Here is a screenshot of the WhatIs TechTarget site on October 10, 2023 at 2:13 pm.

Screenshot from the TechTarget archived site.
WhatIs TechTarget on October 10, 2023 at 2:13 pm

You can see minor changes in the Word of the Day and Professional Development section, as well as differences in the recently published definitions section.

If you want to compare content, you can use services like, Diffchecker, and Kaleidoscope to compare the old text with the new text.

The Wayback Machine is not a static image — users can browse the archived website.

2. Research topics and clients

Some resources may no longer exist on the Internet for certain topics. You can use the Wayback Machine to access historical versions of websites to see changes, including those that have been removed or removed. This can be useful when trying to understand an industry and how it has changed over time.

You can also see how potential customers have changed over time by browsing their web pages — just as you can for a competitor to see what has changed and how their brand has changed. By reviewing old sites, you gain insight into a company’s history.

3. Restore old content

There are risks involved when making significant changes to a website. If you want to return to the previous site for reasons such as reduced web traffic, you can restore the content to the original version.

The Wayback Machine can also help if you’ve accidentally deleted content from your site. You can view the cached version of some pages and potentially retrieve things like an image or article. To do this, go to each page, copy the text and paste it into a text editor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs to look for errors. Then right click to save the images and then resend them.

You can also delete data from the website to recover data.

4. Fix website problems

If there are significant traffic fluctuations, use the Wayback Machine to look for the following issues:

  • The meta description changes.
  • The difference in page structure
  • Update call to action.
  • New or missing pieces on a page.
  • Page content changes

The Wayback Machine archives robots.txt files that indicate crawling permissions on a website. These can also explain changes in traffic. Robots.txt files advise search engine web crawlers which sections to crawl and index. You can use these files to improve your search engine optimization by removing content such as duplicate and large files. This means that some pages may not be archived due to guidelines. Check to see how often your site is crawled and if something hasn’t been crawled for a period of time, see what’s different.

You can also use the Broken Link Checker plugin in WordPress to find broken links and prevent link rot. These tools do not archive information, but you can copy or paste your text into the page and check old and new links. You can also search for old URLs that were never redirected.

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