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I have a web app which emails me exceptions automatically. This morning there was an error relating to a url: /Catalog/LiveCatalog?id=ylwpfqzts

id is invalid (should be a guid) and caused an error parsing. Everything was handled correctly, and an error page is returned. But what was odd is that the user-agent reported itself as Googlebot and the IP is registered to Google.

The URL would never have been generated by my web app but doesn't look particularly malicious.

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2 Answers

If your app is like a lot of CMS, it may return the index page even if the page being access does not exist. You should create a custom 404 page which Google should adhere to.

Some more info: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=93641

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Thanks for the link. The site currently returns a 500 status code (with a custom page). I'll look at changing it to a 404, but I don't want to cause pages to get unindexed if there was a genuine bug in the code rather than bad inputs. –  Rob Walker Feb 7 '11 at 15:36
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It possible it's simple a bug in GoogleBot (it does happen). Or it could be a URL that you previously used and just hasn't been dropped from Google's sitemap for your site, however doubtful if you say that was never a valid URL.

There is also a slim chance that is was someone testing for exploits in your site by fiddling with URLs. I say slim cause it's not hard to fake as GoogleBot slightly harder to fake Google IP though.

For the moment I would write it off as a GoogleBot glitch but keep an eye out for it happening again.

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It has been happening once a day for the last several days, always between 3am and 4am EST and always with a different random string from the id. The site has fairly light traffic and I doubt it would attract the attention of anyone wanting to find an exploit. –  Rob Walker Feb 7 '11 at 15:34
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