Structured Data Testing Tool Alternatives

Patrick Hathaway
Published 14 September 2020

Structured Data Testing Tool Alternatives

Google's Structured Data Testing Tool (SDTT) has been a staple in the SEO toolkit for a number of years, but it's going away soon, so what do we do now? 

If you're the impatient type, you can jump to my recommendations for Structured Data Testing Tool alternatives here. Or keep reading for some more background on the situation.

What is Google's Structured Data Testing Tool?

For many years, it has been the go-to tool for SEOs, developers and webmasters alike to test and validate structured data.

It allows you to paste a URL or code snippet, then parses the HTML and extracts all the structured data it finds. It applies validation for Google Search Features and Schema.org.

Structured Data Testing Tool

Why is the Structured Data Testing Tool being deprecated?

Because it is being replaced by Google's Rich Results Test tool, which, as of July 2020, finally came out of beta.

There was precedent for this move, as their original 'Rich Snippet Testing Tool' was itself replaced by the Structured Data Testing Tool back in 2015.

The original Rich Snippets Testing Tool, in 2009:

Original Rich Snippets Testing Tool

And the 2020 rendition:

Rich Results Test

When will the Structured Data Testing Tool get removed?

We don't yet have an official date from Google, who have simply said 'soon,' however it seems likely that the URL will be redirected to the new Rich Results Test by the end of 2020.

Is Google replacing their Structured Data Testing Tool?

Yes, the Rich Results Test tool (RRT) is their official replacement, which they urge users to switch to using. According to Google, the new tool "fully supports all Google Search rich result features."

There are 2 crucial improvements that the Rich Results Test offers:

  1. It renders the page content, so it can validate dynamically generated structured data.
  2. It allows you to test either as a desktop or mobile user-agent (mobile by default).

This technological improvement also aligns with Google's shift to rendering every page they crawl and indexing content on a 'mobile-first' basis.

The new tool also allowed Google to re-brand, clumping together rich snippets, rich cards and other search results features under the umbrella term 'rich results.'

However, many SEOs are very unhappy about the change, in particular to decision to deprecate the Structured Data Testing Tool.

Why are people complaining about the Rich Results Test?

Quite simply, because there is more to structured data than rich results. The Rich Results Test tool is centered entirely around eligibility for rich results in Google search, with a binary yes/no that dominates the results page.

Eligible for rich results

Not eligible for rich results

The implicit message being communicated to digital marketers is that structured data is only useful for generating rich results, whereas we have all become used to being able to test all structured data using the old Structured Data Testing Tool;

Barry Adams Tweet

The SDTT was great for extracting and validating all the structured data marked up on a page, RRT leaves huge gaps, since only Google-approved entities are represented.

What this means is that the RRT will only validate schema.org type if they are eligible for rich results in the search results.

This difference was nicely highlighted in a comparison screenshot shared by Saijo George;

Difference between SDTT and RRT

Structured Data Testing Tool alternatives

With SDTT going away, Google's official line is that we should all be using the Rich Results Test. Per the above, this is a pretty sub-optimal solution for lots of people.

Here are some other structured data tools that can help with your validation woes:

#1 Sitebulb's Standalone Structured Data Checker

Number 1 on my list, for obvious reasons, but genuinely does tick pretty much every box.

Crucially, it will extract ALL structured data, and validate both against Google's guidelines AND against schema.org guidelines.

Structured Data Checker

Pros:

  • Enter URL or a code snippet
  • Extracts and validates ALL structured data
  • Provides Schema.org validation AND Rich Results validation.
  • Renders JavaScript (using headless Chromium)
  • Allows you to quickly make changes and re-test
  • Recognises and merges entities with the same @id

Cons:

  • Desktop software, so can't work via a convenient bookmarklet
  • Paid software (sorrynotsorry, but we do have a free trial!)

If you want to learn more about what you can do with Sitebulb's standalone structured data testing tool, check out our documentation guide.

Also, Sitebulb's structured data validation is built into the crawler, so you can audit an entire site and validate ALL the structured data on every single page, which means you are able to perform validation either for a single page or for an entire site (read more here!).

#2 Ryte's Structured Data Helper

Recently released, Ryte provide a free Chrome extension which will allow you to check structured data on any web page. It is hyper convenient as you basically just need to press one button, although we found it struggles with some more complicated markup. However it is brand new so I expect these bugs will be ironed out in due course.

Ryte Structured Data Helper

Pros:

  • Free
  • Convenient '1 button press' deployment as it is an extension
  • Provides Schema.org validation AND Rich Results validation.

Cons:

  • Small viewing window can be difficult to explore
  • Currently restricted to Chrome
  • No way to enter code snippet, or easily change/re-test

#3 Structured Data Linter

The Structured Data Linter is a free web tool that can be used to check your structured data, and provides warnings and hints if your markup is not valid. Although it does not provide validation against Google's docs, it offers a neat 'search result preview' feature that allows you to see what your page might look like in the SERPs.

Structured Data Linter

Pros:

  • Free
  • Enter URL or a code snippet
  • Extracts all structured data found on the page
  • Search results preview

Cons:

  • Does not provide Rich Results validation
  • Does not render JavaScript
  • Difficult to understand errors/warnings

#4 Schema.dev Testing Environment

A product from enterprise software SEOClarity, Schema.dev is a set of (currently free) testing tools for structured data. The testing environment has clearly been designed to look almost exactly like the current Google structured data tool, so there is a very familiar feel (however, it does not allow you to click the error and see it highlighted in the markup).

Note: despite deceptively similar branding and URL, this toolset is not affiliated with schema.org itself.

Schema.dev tool

Pros:

  • Free
  • Familiar layout
  • Provides Schema.org validation AND Rich Results validation.
  • Allows you to quickly make changes and re-test

Cons:

  • Only works with code snippet, cannot test a live URL
  • Deceptive branding makes the site look like it is made by schema.org (it is not)
  • Does not recognise or merge entities with the same @id
  • Lack of clarity as to whether an error is a Google error or a Schema.org error

#5 Classy Schema Visualiser

Though not strictly a validation tool, Classy Schema's Structured Data Viewer offers a great way to visualise structured data and the relationships between different entities on the page, with an interactive force-directed graph:

Classy Schema

Pros:

  • Free
  • Enter URL or a code snippet
  • Extracts all structured data found on the page

Cons:

  • Does not provide Schema.org validation or Rich Results validation (e.g. missing required field)

#6 Bing Webmaster Tools URL Inspection

In July 2020 Bing updated their webmaster tools design, and rolled together a whole bunch of features, including their structured data checker. This now lives in the 'URL Inspection' tool from the left hand menu (if you don't see this mentioned in their documentation, that's because it isn't).

At the same time, they have ripped out a ton of functionality so it is merely a shell of its former self, and does not even report on fundamental errors like in the example below (missing required field). It won't even tell you of basic parsing errors, it just responds with 'Failed to load insights.'

Missing required field

Pros:

  • Free
  • ...?

Cons:

  • You can only test URLs on a verified domain
  • Cannot enter a code snippet
  • Does not provide schema validation of any kind
  • You have to sign in to Bing Webmaster Tools and run the gauntlet of actually finding the right tool.

How to validate structured data post-SDTT

The structured data testing tool will soon be gone, and its heir apparent, the Rich Results tool, is a woefully inadequate replacement. Such is the way of things, I expect that the Rich Results Test will gain widespread use, and we have no option but to trust it for determining whether a page is eligible for obtaining search features.

For those that wish to validate more than just Google features, the most practical solution is to use one of the tools suggested above as a complementary tool to the RRT. Whilst it is frustrating that there is not one single 'source of truth,' structured data is a complex and ever-changing world, so I expect many people appreciate the validation of cross-checking with multiple tools anyway.

When choosing your sidearm of choice, my advice is to understand what you're actually looking to achieve, and choose the right tool for the job. Make sure that you know what rule-base the tool is validating against, so you can feel confident that you're checking for the right things.

Patrick Hathaway

Patrick spends most of his time trying to keep the documentation up to speed with Gareth's non-stop development. When he's not doing that, he can usually be found abusing Sitebulb customers in his beloved release notes.

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