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Is there a way to see when a page was first published, by checking when it was first cached by Google (obviously its not 100% fool proof because there is a couple of days delay in some cases but it will give you a good idea.)

The only other way I could think of checking it published date is if the page and post had a publicly viable time stamp on it, but in the case I'm looking for it, it doesn't have a publicly visible time stamp.

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If a page doesn't have a visible published date then maybe the RSS feed (or XML sitemap?) does? (Although the RSS feed might not have old posts.) – w3dk Dec 14 '12 at 19:23

You can check your raw access logs and search for when Google first accessed the page. That is if the site belongs to you. Otherwise there isn't any good way because as you said from the day Google first visits your site, to the day your page appears in the cache servers varies. You may actually appear in search results and not yet be in the cache servers. On the other hand you can appear indexed, and cached, within minutes from when they crawl you. I suppose this depends on when they are pushing data to their index and cache servers.

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