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Preventing search engines from publishing a cached version of your contents

In a “random” browsing session (see at the bottom if you want the uninteresting complete history) I found out that it was possible to disable search engine caching (or, more precisely, to hide the cache from searchers). This was something I’d been interested in doing for a while, but I never cared enough to just check if it was actually possible. Now that I had stumbled upon the answer, this decided me to go farther. The info I originally found said that “caching be disabled via the robots.txt file”. I searched a bit around that and only found out a way using meta tags:

  • <meta name="robots" content="noarchive" /> seems to be the “standard” one, “officially supported by Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Ask” (source). This tag is enough, the other methods I’ll list are just here for informational purpose. On a side note, this noarchive option seems pretty old, I found a reference to it back in 2000.
  • <meta name="googlebot" content="noarchive" /> is Google-specific, that’s if you want to disable caching just for Google.
  • <meta name="robots" content="nocache " /> is Bing-specific. But since Bing supports noarchive too, there’s no reason to use it…

On a side note, it’s also possible to disable the page snippet/abstract, at least on Google, using the following: <meta name="googlebot" content="nosnippet" />. Note that this option will also disable the cache.


As promised at the beginning, the uninteresting complete history:
– someone sent me the following funky Google error message:

In class Backend not available (backend says: Cookie decode task expired while queued)

– I search for it, then for parts of it, and eventually ended up on Google Blogoscoped
– this site referred at some point to a Wikipedia page dedicated to criticism of Google, where I found out that caching can be disabled.

Posted in Google, web development.

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