The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has a new tool that shows the exact date a page was changed what was changed on it.
‘Changes‘ is currently in beta, so the experience isn’t perfect at the moment but it’s easy to see the potential in it.
Previously, the only way to look back on when and how a page was changed was to manually click through and view every screenshot in the Wayback Machine.
Now, you can enter a URL and the Wayback Machine will analyze all the screenshots it has taken since the page was published.
Then it displays a color-coded calendar which shows the degree of relative change from one archive to another. It ranges from grey (low degree of change) to blue (high degree of change).
From there you can select two different dates and compare the changes with screenshots that are highlighted in blue and yellow.
Here’s an example of what the Search Engine Journal homepage looked like three years apart.
Yellow indicates content deletion and blue indicates content addition.
As you can see, the tool indicates written content changes as well as changes in visual elements like the header and navigation buttons.
There’s a great deal of potential in this tool for SEOs when it comes to diagnosing issues.
For example, if there’s a gradual rise or decline in rankings for a page you can see how it has changed over a period of time.
Alternatively, if the page never changed since it was published, you can find out immediately rather than manually comparing different screenshots.
Personally, I can think of many times in the past when I would have used this tool if it was available.