DEBUGGING STRUCTURED DATA IN THE (POST-)SDTT-ERA

Current plans for Google’s tools and alternatives for schema.org markup validation and creation

With Google announcing their Rich Results Test tool was out of beta also came their decision to deprecate their famous Structured Data Testing Tool(SDTT for short) in July 2020. This was followed by discussions in the SEO community, as the SDTT offered more insights into structured data than their shiny new tool. If you’re interested in a bit of history, read up on that here:

QUO VADIS, SDTT?

Turns out: Google listened to us! In a nutshell:

  • SDTT will not die but migrate to a new domain in April 2021
  • Focus: syntax and schema.org compliance
  • To test if your markup validates to be shown in Google Search rich results, use the Rich Results Test
Google announcing updates of their Rich Results Test following feedback from the SEO community onthe deprecation of the SDTT
Google announcing updates of their Rich Results Test following feedback from the SEO community onthe deprecation of the SDTT

If you are still looking for alternatives to Google tools — in general we highly suggest to add at least one different tool to your QA tool box — you’re in for a treat as we gathered them in this article.

What are the alternatives?

These are all free, apart from the full version of Screaming Frog. 🐙 means these are my favourite and are frequently used in our team for QA.

For SEO QA and/or debugging

My general tool to go for any type of schema.org markup would be Screaming Frog. However, making sense of the parsing errors reported by Screaming Frog can be a bit tricky in the tool — which is when I turn to check the code reported as an error again in other tools (see below) to find out what’s causing that error.

The tool of choice depends on what schema.org markup flavour you chose to use:

FIND REQUIREMENTS FOR ANY FLAVOUR

JSON-LD

  • 🐙JSON-LD Playground for finding the exact place of those nasty parsing errors as reported in your Screaming Frog Crawl or in Google Search Console’s unparsable structured data report
  • 🐙Classy Schema — Swiss Army Knife for auditing JSON-LD, including powerful visualisation (it even got a bookmarklet!).
  • NEW: Ryte’s Structured Data Helper, available as a plugin for Chrome. Really handy visually for each page — also showing you parsing errors that you’d otherwise only find with Screaming Frog.
  • Bing Markup Validator (Thanks, Aleyda!) I would not necessarily regard this as equal to Google’s SDTT because Bing’s tool can only be used when registered with Bing webmaster, and you can only submit a URL for testing, not a code snippet.
  • Yandex Structured data validator validates other formats such as microdata, microformats, RDFa, and OpenGraph too. Thank you, Lily Ray!
Screenshot of the Chrome Plugin Structured Data Helper by Ryte
Screenshot of the Chrome Plugin Structured Data Helper by Ryte

Microdata and RDFa

With microdata being a bit outdated, it’s mostly Google’s tools you’d have to rely on. I’ll continue to look for an alternative. If you see any on your way through the web, please let me know, will you?

Unrelated bragging: Did you now I even contributed to the name of a fancy new schema.org tool? Here’s proof!

To find/create sample code for SEO feature requests

If you need to submit sample code for your feature requests addressing your development team (which we highly suggest), there are a number of resources to help you to generate and then modify schema.org markup to your liking (and validate or debug it with the tools we just named above):

FIND REQUIREMENTS FOR ANY FLAVOUR

COMPARING MARKUPS (EG. TO SPY ON YOUR COMPETITORS)

  • schemamarkup.net — sometimes we best learn by comparison — if you would like to figure out why your competitors got those nice rich snippets and you don’t, you can compare their markup with yours to see if you were missing out on opportunities to use structured data

JSON-LD generators

Most of the generators out there will only offer JSON-LD sample code nowadays. If for whatever reason you’d rather feed your microdata or RDFa fetish, be my guest and scroll a bit further down.

Microdata generators

If you’re feeling a bit retro, these got you covered:

RDFa generators

Now if you’re feeling very retro, you might still want to generate RDFa or be looking to transform RDFa to Microdata:

Google Tools

If you would double-check with Google tools, you can still do that:

  • Structured Data Markup Helper is a bit old but can help you create markup for JSON-LD or microdata.
  • developers.google.com offers you sample markup you can test in their Rich Results Test for various types, even for those that are not yet rolled out for everyone yet
  • unparsable structured data report in Google Search Console
Screenshot of the Unparsable Structured Data report in Google Search Console
Screenshot of the Unparsable Structured Data report in Google Search Console

FAQ

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This article is a living thing, it’s likely going to be updated by me. Got a suggestion? Drop me a line on Twitter.

Interntl. SEO Expert by day. Flatmate of an octopus & amateur poet by night. German-Italian striped-socks lover. Tends to prefer music over people at times. ʎ|y