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Structured Data Testing Tool Alternatives

Introduction

In July 2020, Google announced that the rich results testing tool was out of beta and that its structured data tool would be deprecated at the end of the year. 

After significant feedback from the SEO community concerning this announcement, Google changed course in December 2020, stating that the old tool will be migrated to the schema.org community in April 2021 where it will be used strictly to check syntax and compliance of any markup with schema.org standards. 

To understand the differences between the two tools, consider the following scenarios.  

If you want to use, say, painting markup on your content — use this new tool that’s migrating to the schema.org community because that particular markup type (painting) is not explicitly consumed in a rich way yet. By contrast, if you want to use book markup on your content continue to use the rich results testing tool because it’s the best tool to determine whether your markup is valid for rich experiences in search results.

What was the structured data testing tool?

Until very recently, Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool was the go-to option for webmasters to test and validate all kinds of structured data. 

  • It worked for Google search features and schema.org alike. 
  • You could easily visualize which types and properties a web page provided. 
  • You could easily diagnose problems with structured data markup — whether the issues were related to invalid usage, syntax, or a recommended/required property. 
  • It was easy to edit the code right in the tool until green check marks appeared. 

What is the rich results testing tool?

The rich results testing tool, which is now out of beta, was created in 2017 as a way to test applicable markup for rich snippets, rich results, and rich cards. Initially it only supported markup for courses, job listings, movies, and recipes. Now it supports the testing of markup for all rich result types. 

The biggest difference between this tool and the old structured data testing tool is that it will only provide feedback on structured data that triggers rich features in Google’s search results. As Google Webmaster Trends Analysts, John Mueller, put it: the goal of this new tool is to simplify the job for markets who were only interested in “types of structured data that actually have an effect in search”.

With all that said, the new rich results testing tool offers the following benefits and improvements:

  1. It shows which search features are valid for the provided markup.
  2. It handles dynamically loaded markup better.
  3. It renders the mobile and desktop version of the result better.
  4. It is fully aligned with Search Console Reports.
  5. It can test both code snippets and web page URLs to provide warnings and errors of what’s stopping certain details and results from being shown in search.

After inserting structured data on your page to enable rich results in Google search results, you can run tests. Here is how the test works:

  • Submit the full URL or code snippet
  • Optionally choose the user agent (mobile – default)
  • Formats supported: JSON-LD, RDFA, Microdata

The test shows which rich result types were found on the page, as well as any warnings or errors for your structured data. Expand the item to see the details of those warnings or errors. There are 30+ supported rich results types and you can see how your page might look with them in search results.

Note that the rich results testing tool is also fully aligned with Search Console reports now. Now you can study which results Google could or could not read from your site and troubleshoot any associated errors. 

  • Reports are listed under the enhancements tab in the left hand rail menu pane. 
  • There are 17 separate reports for each rich results type Google was able to find in your property.
  • There is a summary page that shows a chart of errors, warnings, and eligible items. 
  • There is also a details page accessible from the summary that shows the state of the rich result, when it was first detected, the item type, and when it was last crawled.
  • You can share the report with your team by clicking the share button.

What are the alternatives to the structured data testing tool?

Due to Google’s July announcement about the deprecation of the structured data testing tool, we started to see the rise of third-party alternatives. Here are some options to consider:

  • Yandex SD Validator
  • RDF Translator
  • JSON-LD Playground
  • Bing Markup Validator

Most third-party options don’t render javascript, don’t validate rich results, have limited hosting resources (like no HTTPS), and only validate one format or the other (like JSON-LD). That’s why, when looking at alternatives to Google’s structured data and rich results testing tools, consider asking some or all of the following questions during evaluation:

  • Does it validate rich results?
  • Does it validate schema.org standards?
  • Does it render markup from dynamic javascript?
  • Is the interface user-friendly?
  • Is there a rich results preview?
  • Is there a search results preview?
  • Is there a site-wide health overview?
  • Is there an alert system for errors and warnings?
  • Is there a chrome extension?

Conclusion

Huckabuy will be releasing a structured data testing tool of its own in early 2021. Stay tuned!