On June 29, 2010 Google announced that you can now submit one sitemap.xml file with many content types. This means that you no longer need separate xml files for video, images, URLs, etc. The overarching idea was to help simplify the sitemap submission process for webmasters so they didn’t have juggle multiple files but Google really hasn’t simplified anything.
Here are 4 Reasons Why a Single Sitemap File is a Bad Idea:
1. Creates a Cluster F*** of a File
Single content type sitemaps can get messy as they get passed around and edited by different people. So lets add more content types to the mix in that single file so that it becomes grossly impossible to manage in any intelligent manner.
2. Still Restricted to 50,000 Elements
Great, you can now combine everything into one file but it is still restricted in size. So, if you are running a larger site with a lot of pages, images, video, etc. you will still need multiple files. Then if you are mixing the content types in those multiple files you are going to end up searching each of those files every time a URL changes, a video is edited, etc.
3. Not Supported by All Search Engines
This is a move that only Google is making. So you will still have to have a traditional URLs sitemap for the other search engines which means even more files to update when there are URL changes on your site.
4. No Easier to Create
Much of sitemap creation is manual so what are you really going to gain by combining them all into one. Nothing.
So, before you jump on board with a single sitemap.xml file for Google, think about it. Is this really going to make any part of my job easier? or is this just going to make this more difficult to manage?
Google’s List of Specialized Sitemaps