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I'm considering nested site maps for a site with many small files. I'm thinking of nesting sitemaps going 3 levels deep into the directories.

Question 1: When you submit nested sitemaps to Google:

  1. Do you have to submit all of the sitemaps

    OR

  2. Do you submit the root sitemap and expect that Googlebot will crawl to deeper levels.

I suspect submitting the root sitemap will suffice.

Question 2: Related Comments from Google, which has this text in it:

A sitemap index file can't list other sitemap index files, but only sitemap files.

Does this mean I can only have the root sitemap reference other sitemaps? Or, in other words, I can't go three levels deep such as:

sitemap
   +-----sitemap
             +-----sitemap
             +-----sitemap

I should only go two levels deep (root to all other sitemaps)?

  • 1
    You can only have one index sitemap and no other sitemap can reference another except for the one index sitemap. As well, you would only submit the index sitemap to any search engine. This means there are no levels in sitemaps. – closetnoc Aug 15 '15 at 0:27
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Sitemap index files can contain references to actual sitemap files, and each of those sitemap files then contain references to URLs that you want search engines to index.

When you submit a sitemap index file to Google, it actually process all sitemap files that are connected to it, but you may have to wait up to a few hours to notice some action in webmaster tools because Google likes to be slow.

So your structure then would be something like this:

SitemapIndexFile.xml
   -SitemapFile1.xml
       -URL1
       -URL2
       ....
       -URLN
   -SitemapFile2.xml
       -OtherURL1
       -OtherURL2
       .... 
       -OtherURLN
    ....

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