The Rich Results Test (RRT) has now replaced Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool (SDTT), which was deprecated in August 2020. Still missing the SDTT? Fear not – this tool has since been migrated and lives on as the Schema Markup Validator hosted on schema.org.
NOTE: First published 27 July 2020, updated on 14 January 2022.
You might expect digital marketers to have been excited about the promise of a new tool, but the move was initially met with dismay by some members of the SEO community. The main criticism was that the RRT only supported a small subset of Google-approved schemas, whereas the SDTT was capable of validating all schema types (more on this below).
In response to the feedback from the SEO community, Google decided to migrate the SDTT over to schema.org in April 2021 as the Schema Markup Validator. This enables users to check the syntax and compliance of markup with schema.org standards, but no longer checks a page’s eligibility for Google Search rich results (this can only be achieved using the RTT).
In this article, we’ll look at the differences between the SDTT and the RRT in greater depth and unpack some of the reasons why people were unhappy with the replacement tool. To conclude, we’ll look at some of the alternative options should you find that the RRT doesn’t meet your needs.
- What was the Structured Data Testing Tool?
- What is the Schema Markup Validator?
- What is Google’s Rich Results Test?
- Initial responses to the Rich Results Test
- At first, the RRT only validated Google-approved schema types
- RRT forces the user to test the AMP version of a page
- It’s more difficult to edit and re-test mark-up in RRT
- Positives of the RRT
- Comparing the Structured Data Testing Tool and the Rich Results Test
- Alternatives to the Rich Results Test
- Schema Markup Validator
- Bing Markup Validator
- Structured Data Viewer
- Screaming Frog
What was the Structured Data Testing Tool?
Originally launched in 2009, the Structured Data Testing Tool (SDTT) was a web-based platform for validating schema – a type of structured data that we add to pages so that Google understands what they are about. You could previously use it to test structured data either by manually checking a code snippet or entering a URL to validate your implementation of schema on a particular page.
A simple tool in principle, the SDTT was something we used frequently in SEO. Whether adding LocalBusiness markup to a client’s location landing pages or improving how a blog appears in the search results with HowTo schema, the most important step is validating the implementation at the end.
What is the Schema Markup Validator?
In response to criticism from SEOs, Google decided to migrate the old SDTT over to schema.org after initially deprecating it. Here, it lives on as the Schema Markup Validator, a tool which enables users to check the syntax and compliance of schema with schema.org standards.
The key difference between the SDTT and the Schema Markup Validator is that the migrated tool no longer enables users to check whether structured data markup is valid for rich results in Google Search – to do that, you’ll have to use the Rich Results Test.
What is Google’s Rich Results Test?
The Rich Results Test (RRT) is a tool for testing structured data and is designed to replace the SDTT. Much like its predecessor, the RRT enables users to validate either code snippets or URLs. As you can see from the screenshot below, the most immediately obvious improvements are aesthetic:
Whilst the RRT may have its limitations, it does allow users to confirm that their schema markup is eligible for rich results in Google Search. Obtaining rich results is one of the primary reasons for adding structured data to pages in the first place, so the RRT still has an important role to play even if you use other tools to validate your syntax beforehand.
As well as letting you know if the structured data on a page is eligible for rich results in the SERPs, the RRT also shows you a preview of how the page will appear in Google Search with its current enhancements:
Although some warnings may pop up when you test the schema markup on a page, this often won’t affect the final appearance of your search result enhancements. With this in mind, it’s worth checking the RRT preview when validating your markup.
Initial responses to the Rich Results Test
In the weeks following the deprecation of the SDTT, the RRT came under a lot of fire. It’s important to note that some of these early criticisms have now been addressed:
At first, the RRT only validated Google-approved schema types
Certain types of schema used in publishing and the media weren’t compatible with the tool at first, making it less useful to businesses in these industries.
RRT forces the user to test the AMP version of a page
Most users won’t need to differentiate between AMP and non-AMP versions during their usual workflow, but, as others have pointed out, this could be a serious issue for publishers.
This remains an issue with the RRT that has yet to be resolved.
It’s more difficult to edit and re-test mark-up in RRT
In the SDTT, users could easily alter their code to the left of the page and then validate the changes on the right, which was useful when you encountered small syntax errors that needed fixing. As this tweet shows, you can still do this in the RRT, but re-testing takes a little longer.
Positives of the RRT
The integration with Google Search Console is certainly a step in the right direction, providing more of the data you need in one place, as is the ability to differentiate between desktop and mobile.
Comparing the Structured Data Testing Tool and the Rich Results Test
The main difference between these tools initially lay in the forms of schema that they could validate: the RRT was only able to test approved classes of structured data that directly influence the appearance of search results, whereas the SDTT was capable of validating all schema types.
Whilst at first the RRT was unable to validate NewsArticle and LiveBlogPosting schema, this issue has since been rectified. However, the tool still can’t validate a wide range of schema types that won’t affect rich results in Google Search, including Action schema. (Users who want to validate the full spectrum of schema types can now do so using the Schema Markup Validator.)
Another differentiating factor between the SDTT and the RRT is the ease with which users can edit and re-validate code. Dave Smart’s tweet shows a workaround for altering scripts on the fly in the new platform, but this was much easier with the SDTT. With the launch of the Schema Markup Validator, users can now edit a page’s structured data on the go before switching over to the RRT for a final check of rich results eligibility.
That said, the Search Console integration makes our workflows much smoother – having the RRT data available as a report under the Enhancements tab helps to flag any issues that need fixing with structured data across an entire site, making it easier to keep on top of mark-up implementation for larger sites that regularly add schema to their content. Other great new features include the ability to preview how your page would be displayed or read out to Google Assistant users. If you marked up one of your pages with Recipe schema, you could see how the recipe would look on a display speaker using the RRT so you can check that your formatting is correct as shown in this screenshot:
Alternatives to the Rich Results Test
The RRT has its positives, but if it doesn’t provide all of the features you need, then there are plenty of free online alternatives that will allow you to test your structured data. And fortunately, many of these aren’t limited to validating a narrow set of schema types.
In practice, you may want to combine one of these tools with the RRT – this way, you’ll be able to finalise the schema on a page before testing out the appearance of rich results using the RRT’s preview functionality.
Schema Markup Validator
With the launch of the Schema Markup Validator, users can carry out all of the structured data testing that they would have done via the SDTT here instead. This means that users can validate the complete range of schema – and you can edit a page’s structured data on the fly as you would previously have done with SDTT:
Bing Markup Validator
Microsoft’s response to the SDTT, the Bing Markup Validator is useful for quickly checking your implementation of a wide variety of different schema types. The only slight inconvenience with this tool is that you have to sign in before you can use it. Once you’re logged in and you’ve selected the site you want to test, you can find the markup validator under Diagnostics & Tools:
Structured Data Viewer
The Structured Data Viewer from classyschema.org is the most helpful alternative tool that I’ve come across. It’s free (with no sign in required), handles all types of schema, and even provides a visualisation of the relationships between the entities referred to in your script:
This tool isn’t free, but if your team already uses Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider, you might as well make use of its structured data testing functionality. Click Configuration > Spider > Extraction, then tick all of the types of structured data you’d like to validate from the bottom of the following screen:
From here, just run a crawl of the site as you normally would and then click on the ‘structured data’ tab, which allows you to filter down to URLs with structured data and separate them out into valid/parsing error/validation warning buckets. At the bottom of this page, the ‘structured data details’ tab will provide the full details of each URL validated.
Screaming Frog’s structured data testing functionality is ideal for validating schema at scale. This complements the ability to view any issues with enhancements across an entire site in Google Search Console.
To learn more about structured data and how to implement different kinds of schema on your site, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Schema.
If you’d like to discuss any of the issues raised in this post – or you’d like to find out how Impression could help your business stand out online – don’t hesitate to get in touch.