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Checking the stats shows that these are accesses by googlebot, running at about 2 per second: -
126.96.36.199 - - [05/Apr/2005:17:50:52 +0100] "GET /redirect.php?term=1234 HTTP/1.1" 302 5 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)"
Has anyone else seen this? Do you think Google might be doing it to ensure the display url matches the true destination of the link (about time), or do you think they are going to start crawling adwords users sites more for natural search?
I know that second option is unlikely and controversial, but they've always said the mediaparters bot and googlebot are totally separate, so it would seem odd to use the googlebot name for a crawl that wasn't related to natural search.
For example when searching for one of the targeted keyword combos "widget relief program", site www.example.com shows up in the SERPs. When clicking on the live link the search terms are nowhere to be found on that page. But if I look at the Google cache of the page my Adwords ad is highlighted and apparently triggered the search placement.
I hope not, that would make tracking URLs rather useless...
They're probably just making sure that the URLs resolve and don't 404 -- a sensible "quality check."
However, that Googlebot should mind its manners like the others, and not fetch more than one URL per domain per second (or so)...
That's what I meant by true destination url, the page the user actually sees, as apposed to the destination url you enter into the management center.
As I understand it at least the display domain should match the true destination url, but many are showing fake domains (e.g. .co.uk instead of .com or adding in hypens) to get past the one ad per domain rules.