If you have a large website with a lot of pages that need to be indexed by the search engines then you should submit a sitemap to each of the search engines to ensure that your pages are crawled and indexed. Google has recently updated the way it allows webmasters to submit sitemaps and it should prove easy to do so.
Google Webmaster Central outlines the different types of sitemaps you can submit and offers great definitions of those. In summary, I’ll list them here:
- RSS or ATOM
- Video XML
- XML for Google Code Search
- XML for mobile
- XML for geo-data
- XML for news
The great thing about Google is you can submit as many different types of sitemaps as your website supports. The best way to submit them is through your Webmaster Tools account. However, if you upload your sitemap to your server and provide the URL to the sitemap in your robots.txt file, all of the search engines that support sitemaps will be able to crawl it and index your web pages. Be careful here, though, before not all search engines support every one of these formats (XML for Google Code Search, for instance).
Another way to submit your sitemaps, and this works well for blogs, is to ping them. Use Google’s ping URL and your sitemaps can be updated as often as you’d like. This should help with your overall search engine optimization efforts, for sure!