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I'd like to create several sitemaps and gather them into one sitemap index. Then I'd like to submit the sitemap index to Google (and other SE's) using those links. From my point of view it should be enough to be well indexed, but I'd like to be sure that it is not necessary to point the sitemap index to Google's Webmaster Tools.

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You don't have to use GWT to make Google aware of an XML sitemap. It's just one of the ways they make available to webmasters but isn't the only way or a required way. You can use robots.txt to accomplish this as well.

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Thanks - it's clear. But I'd like to ping Google pretty often for the new pages on the site so I thought that submitting sitemap index will be a good idea. Right? – Roman Matveev Feb 3 '14 at 17:00
Sure. But Google seems to crawl them at their own pre-determined schedule so pinging them doesn't seem to accomplish much in terms of increasing their crawl rate of the XML sitemaps. But as long as you keep the sitemaps up to date they're gonna find that content which is what matters. – John Conde Feb 3 '14 at 17:02
On a recent site (about 150+ pages) I decided to test the robots.txt method. With just a Sitemap: entry in robots.txt and without submitting the sitemap to GWT or pinging it, Googlebot appears to be requesting the sitemap.xml file every 4 or 5 days. In GWT, Crawl > Blocked URLs > "robots.txt analysis", it reports "Valid Sitemap reference detected". However, under Crawl > Sitemaps it states "No sitemaps found for this site". So, assuming that Googlebot is using the sitemap file when requested, it still seems necessary to actually submit a sitemap in GWT in order to get a sitemap report. – w3dk Feb 3 '14 at 21:32
the important part @w3d is, are the pages being crawled? because if you see a mismatch on the result about the sitemap itself, but the pages are indexed, that just means that the two parts of the code on the GWT are not connected and one doesn't update the other, but no serious consequences for you, the user. – PatomaS Feb 5 '14 at 1:03
@PatomaS: All the pages would seem to have been crawled and indexed, but whether this is because of the XML sitemap I don't know. The pages are all abundantly internally linked, so the need for an XML sitemap is admittedly low in my case. – w3dk Feb 5 '14 at 2:01

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