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goodbots - trust but verify

goodbots ip lookup example on googlebot ips goodbots verifies the IP addresses of respectful crawlers like Googlebot by performing reverse dns and forward dns lookups.

  1. Given an IP address (ex.
  2. It performs a reverse dns lookup to get a hostname (ex.
  3. Then does a forward dns lookup on the hostname to get an IP (ex.
  4. It compares the 1st IP to the 2nd IP
  5. If they match, goodbots outputs the IP and hostname

The Job-to-be-Done (#jtbd)

In search engine optimization (SEO), it is common to analyze a site's access logs (aka bot logs). Often there are various requests by spoofed user-agents pretending to be official search engine crawlers like Googlebot. In order to have an accurate understanding of the site's crawl rate, we want to verify the IP address of the various crawlers.

Getting Started

How to install/build goodbots

Clone the repo:

git clone

Change to the /cmd/goodbots directory:

cd goodbots/cmd/goodbots

Build the binary/executable main.go file:

go build

How to use goodbots

If you've built the main.go file that comes with goodbots above, you can simply feed goodbots IPs via standard-in.

Test a single IP

echo "" | ./goodbots

Test a range of IPs with prips command line tool

prips | ./goodbots

Test a list of IPs from a text or csv file

./goodbots < ip-list.txt

note: The CSV or text file expects only an IP on its own line.


Saving the results

goodbots prints to standard-out with tab (\t) delimiters, so you can capture the output with an output redirect.

Example Output

Save verified bot IPs provide in a file name ip-list.txt to a filed named saved-results.tsv

./goodbots < ip-list.txt > saved-results.tsv

DNS Resolvers

goodbots randomly selects a different public DNS resolver for each DNS lookup to reduce the chances of being blocked or throttled by your DNS provider if you have lots of IPs to verify.

It uses these DNS providers:

Supported Crawlers

Currently verifying the domain name is a little imprecise. goodbots looks for just the domain name to match and does NOT match the TLD.

Future improvements will test for more precise domains based on the crawlers specifications.

  • googlebot
    • .googlebot.
    • .google.
  • msnbot
    • .msn.
  • bingbot
    • .msn.
  • pinterest
    • .pinterest.
  • yandex
    • .yandex.
  • baidu
    • .baidu.
  • coccoc
    • .coccoc.

Make it go faster!

By default we only set the concurrency of requests to 10. If you want to speed up the work, you can increase that number by modifying the main.go file before building the binary/executable.

Other usage of goodbots

In building goodbots, we created a general purpose function for simply resolving the hostnames of any IP address.

In main.go you can uncomment the line that calls ResolveNames() and comment out the GoodBots() function call.

This will not perform a forward DNS lookup to verify the hostname resolves to the same IP address. Additionally, it will output errors to the TSV output when it encounters IPs that error out when requesting the hostname.

➜  goodbots git:(main) ✗ prips -i 50 | ./goodbots	(error)	lookup on no such host
...	(error)	lookup on no such host	WebGods	(error)	lookup on no such host
...	(error)	lookup on no such host


Suggestions from others

via John Murch

  • Generate bad bot list for blacklist usage
  • Track search engine bot list over time to see changes

Other Resources

Written in Golang gopher Gopher courtesy of


Verify IP addresses of respectful crawlers like Googlebot by reverse dns and forward dns lookups







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