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One of my sites has been getting queries from googlebot, on the order of:

example-log:66.249.79.216 - - [06/Apr/2016:15:36:56 -0700] "GET /vvytnoxvontwusz.html HTTP/1.1" 404 15136 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)" TLSv1.2 AES128-GCM-SHA256

I've gotten a few of these in the past couple of days. The address seems to be authentically in Google's IP space, but I have no clue what's going on, other than that it's properly 404'ing: I was not surprised to find that the referenced page is nowhere on my site, nor elsewhere on the internet (as you'd expect if someone is generating a random string of 15 characters).

I suppose I'm not overly worried about this in the grand scheme of things, but does anybody have a clue what's going on? Thanks!

4

Looks to me like a Google website property ownership verification attempt, like in Webmaster Tools/Search Console:

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35179?hl=en

Perhaps someone has inadvertently added your domain name to their account, now Google tries to verify it. No harm I can see.

EDIT: You are right, the verification filenames often start with google-etc.html so instead, this could be Google checking that you don't serve pages in a spammy way when incorrect URLs are requested.

See:

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/2547430/how-to-return-proper-404-for-google-while-providing-user-friendly-content-to-the

http://www.smythies.com/~doug/googlebot1.html

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1724948&p=10659180#post10659180

https://serverfault.com/a/35965/281788

  • Thx; that's what I thought, too. But I already have one of those site validation files for Google Analytics, and it's (a) not one of those strings and (b) differently-named ("googleandthenabunchofcharacters.html"). I'm not super-worried about it, either; it's just a little annoying. – Jim Miller Apr 7 '16 at 17:00
  • Did you check the error report in your own Search Console/Google Webmaster Tools to see whether someone may be linking to that 404 file? – JayMcTee Apr 7 '16 at 17:08

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