Google Shutters Structured Data Testing Tool
In its blog, Google Analytics pronounced 2020 as The Year of Featured Snippets. Since Google was created, its priority has been to find an answer to any requests as quickly and precisely as possible. Nowadays, the search engine mission is implemented by the concept called Zero Click Searches. With this, a user gets a response to a question directly in the SERP without clicking on the site. The implementation of this expanded search has become possible due to rich snippets. Read more information in the articles What is the SERP in 2020? and What are Rich Snippets?
The role of markup in the formation of expanded search results continues to grow. This means the tools for working with the code also need to be improved. In July of 2020, Google took an important step. The Structured Data Testing Tool was replaced with the Rich Results Test. However, this is not the end of innovations. Let’s review which recommendations are provided by Google in relation to structured data today, tools to be used to check them, and how this can be linked to the new ranking factor. Also, read a related article What is Structured Data?
Why It Is Important to Embed Markup on the Site
Thanks to structured data, robots better understand which information you are trying to convey to users and can present them in the SERP in a format that is convenient for perception. These can be snippets, carousels, events’ calendars, FAQs, and other options of information displaying with additional functions.
Metadata are the basis of semantic search as with their help, crawlers react to not only keywords but also to the context of an article. Alexa, Google Assistant, and other voice devices provide the relevant response in the ⅔ of cases, basing on the information from the micro-markup. Structured data are also used in the majority of machine learning and static analysis algorithms.
Formally, the presence of the markup is not a ranking factor. Nevertheless, its influence on the search results cannot be overestimated. Structured data help robots to quickly understand what your page is about and classify it according to a certain type such as news, recipes, guides, or trade pages.
One of the main Google priorities is to provide users with data that is as relevant as possible to their requests. The more data you are going to include in the code, the higher the probability that you will find the expanded search results.
In their turn, it is easier for users to perceive snippets. They visually display the essence of your material, make it possible to quickly evaluate it if the site is going to be useful in a particular case, and if it is worth clicking on the link. Read the related article about How to Optimize Featured Snippets.
Increasing Customers’ Loyalty
Rich snippets make a site more noticeable against competitors. Visual blocks attract attention, while your task is to interest users as much as possible. Aside from basic information — heading, short content, and page address — it is possible to add some intriguing details in the snippet, e.g., pictures or videos.
Try to be as open as possible and focus on what is really useful to the audience. Your audience will appreciate this. When people are searching for recipes, they are interested in seeing what the dish looks like once it’s completed. They also want to know the ingredients, cooking time, and calorific value. When they are planning to purchase something, they are checking the price, technical features, warranty, and stock availability.
If you an owner of a restaurant, indicate the rating, cuisine type, opening hours, and telephone in the snippet. An additional peculiarity can be the calendar of live bands’ performances. Let your potential clients find out the most useful information directly from the SERP.
Ranking According to Core Web Vitals
In May 2020, Google announced the launch of a new ranking algorithm, Core Web Vitals. It foresees an absolutely new approach to the analysis of user experience that will be applied to all the pages starting in the year 2021. Core Web Vitals will combine all the following tools for analysis of sites’ effectiveness: Lighthouse, Chrome DevTools, PageSpeed Insights, Search Console’s Speed Report.
This will enable users to evaluate the loading speed, level of interactivity, visual stability, and general impression from a resource at the same time. More relevant information on the matter can be found in the article Core Web Vitals. For now, the new algorithm is based on the three key UX-metrics:
- First Input Delay (FID) measures a page response time during the interaction from the click on the link or button until the moment when a browser fullfils this request. The optimum index for this metric is 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) evaluates the visual stability of how fast a user gets access to the main content on a scale from 0 to 1 without being distracted by ads, pop-ups, and widgets. In a perfect scenario, the layout shift with the change of shots of visual elements should have a maximum rate of 0.1.
It is possible to check if the site meets the stipulated recommendations in the official Web Vitals application for Chrome or in Lighthouse 6.0. For this purpose, one may also use Page Speed Insights, Chrome User Experience Report, and Google Search Console.
Micro-markup for rich snippets does not influence the speed and visual stability of the site. However, it plays an important role in forming positive impressions about the resource and makes it possible to faster find the necessary information. Google has warned that new metrics will be gradually added to the basic Core Web Vitals. It is probable that one of the tools of the interaction evaluation will become the Rich Snippet Test Tool. The end of its beta-testing has almost coincided with the time of the announcement of Core Web Vitals.
How to Check the Micro-markup Validity
It is quite easy to get an understanding of the Schema syntax. But it does not mean that you will be able to write a correct and maximum-precise code at the first attempt without any mistakes. Special validators can detect and duly correct errors. It is a good practice to test the code before the realization of micro-markup and after the page publication.
In Which Cases does Google not Display Content in SERP
First of all, it is necessary to make sure that the data are open for crawling and indexing. In all the other respects, the requirements for structured data are quite simple. In the case of any rule violation, Google can decrease the position of a site in the SERP or refuse to display it in the expanded search results. To find out about the applied sanctions, check Manual Actions report in Google Search Console. You can also read the related article Google Algorithms That Affect SEO.
- Structured data needs to be in line with the page content.
- Metadata needs to be backed up completely by useful information. It is not allowed to create an empty page for markup only.
- It is unacceptable to use metadata for the description of the content hidden from users.
- Spam in metadata and corresponding content is strictly forbidden.
- Marked-up content has to be unique, relevant, and not misinforming to users. It is not allowed to use markup for the propaganda of illegal actions, violence, or intolerance to a certain group of people.
For a page to get to the rich snippets, it is necessary to fill in all the mandatory fields for your type of content. When you fill in the recommended characteristics, pay attention to two aspects. The more information you provide to crawlers, the higher the probability that you will get a favorable position in the search results. Meanwhile, the information has to be as relevant as possible, precise, and useful. If you have nothing essential to say, it is better to leave these fields empty.
Even perfectly written metadata cannot give a 100% guarantee that the site will be displayed in rich snippets by every request. Google SERP is formed individually for every user search. Taking into account the type of device, geolocation, and other data, your resource can be displayed not in expanded results but on the general search results page like a classic link.
How to Use Google Structured Data Testing Tool
Google structured data testing tool has been the main official validator of Schema markup for a long time. The tool was used for checking one’s own site, as well as for the analysis of competitors’ snippets. To get a report on errors, warnings, and recommendations for their elimination, it is enough to type the resource URL and download the code fragment in the relevant tab. It is also possible to check pages in local access or protected by the firewall. When doing this, you should use ngrok or another tool that ensures tunnel access to the localhost.
In July 2020, Google refused any further support of the Structured Data Testing Tool. It will be available for use for some time. However, it is already strictly recommended to use the Rich Results Test for the validation of the markup. It has inherited the main functions of the Structured Data Testing Tool in addition to a more user-friendly interface and expanded functionality.
Google Rich Snippet Test Tool
Rich Results Test has successfully passed the stage of beta testing and nowadays it is considered as one of the most significant tools for testing sites, along with the AMP Test Tool and Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. Itis necessary to again underline the importance of the site loading speed. This is the key factor for Core Web Vitals. With the help of this tool, it is possible to precisely define how the markup corresponds to the recommendations of Google. What are its benefits in comparison to the validators of previous generations?
- Google schema testing tool shows which functions of the advanced search can be implemented with the help of your markup. It also shows which elements of the code deserve your particular attention. The tool works with all the types of structured data such as AMP articles, videos, carousels, ratings, fly pages, recipes, breadcrumbs, FAQs, etc.
- Depending on the prioritized type of devices, it is possible to choose the corresponding agent such as Googlebot for PCs or smartphones which is installed by default.
- The tool is synchronized with the reports from the Search Console. While fixing errors, it is possible to introduce changes in the code directly from the Rich Results Test.
Before launching a data testing tool, you must make sure that the resource is available for all of the users. It shouldn’t just be concealed by a password, firewall, or robots.txt. In the process of testing, the behavior of anonymous users is simulated. If access to the resource is open only for registered users, it can be estimated as an error.
In the report of the rich snippet testing tool, not only errors but also warnings are displayed. In the case of errors, Google is strictly penalizing them by eliminating pages from advanced search results. The most common errors include:
- Problems with access appear when a page is closed from crawlers by the file robots.txt or a page is unavailable for technical reasons.
- Separate elements on the page are not loaded. In the previous case, it is necessary to make sure that all of the data is open for users and search robots. The low speed of data processing by the server can also be the source of problems.
- Mistakes in syntax perplex robot. They simply cannot define the type of metadata. The complications during pages analysis can be related to logic errors in the upper level of JSON-documents, incorrect values of parameters, empty sequences, and trivial misprints, e.g., omitted ‘:’, ‘,’ ‘}’, ‘]’, and other symbols.
To get a warning is not so critical. They serve as signals that you should improve the markup. Add structured data for images, videos, and URLs in order to shorten or expand descriptions. If these recommendations are ignored, the page will still be displayed on the advanced search results. However, its potential won’t be realized to the maximum extent.
Search Console records the results of every Rich Results Test. There is free access to them, and you can check the results again within 90 days using the relevant tab. You can also send the test results to colleagues or clients with the help of the Share button. Read more in the article What is Google Search Console, and How is This Tool Used?
Aside from the test markup analysis, the Rich Results Test makes it possible to preview how the future snippet will look like on the smartphone or desktop screen. This is particularly useful if the page supports the function of multiple Search result layouts. You can experiment with the code and instantaneously evaluate different layouts; the preview can also be shared with the other users.
Extensions-validators for Google Chrome
If you need to regularly work with structured data, it is convenient to install the Google markup test tool as an extension to the Chrome browser. The choice of plugins is big, making it possible to select a validator with the necessary functionality to launch the check process in only a couple of clicks.
Structured Data Testing Tool
It supports the syntax of microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD. It allows checking sites with open access, as well as local pages protected by passwords. The application highlights errors and warnings in different colors. This makes it possible to export the results of the analysis.
SEO META in 1 CLICK
Google Schema markup tool with the extended operating functionality to work with HTML, CSS, Google Rich Snippet, and PageSpeed. It allows users to analyze almost any metadata that is useful for SEO: structure and hierarchic sequence of headers, descriptions, URLs (including canonical), link mass, images with and without ALT, robots.txt files, and sitemap.
OpenLink Structured Data Sniffer
It works with the vocabularies of Microdata, RDFa, JSON-LD, Turtle, etc. Aside from Google Chrome, OSDS is supported by Mozilla Firefox and Opera (in the future, Safari will be added to the list). It enables you to share the link to the test results, download the report to the cloud storage, or save it on a PC.
OpenLink Structured Data Sniffer
META SEO inspector
This extension allows users to check if the site HTML code meets the recommendations stipulated in the Webmasters’ Google Guidelines. If errors are detected in the markup (unfilled fields, problems with syntax, too long, or too short text), the META SEO inspector displays a warning and suggests the ways to improve the situation. Aside from the analysis of structured data, this plugin allows you to check the settings of canonization, no-follow links, and other properties that influence the site operation but are invisible to users. The report with errors and warnings can be exported, downloaded in PDF, or printed.
You can find more useful extensions in the article 50+ Best Free SEO Chrome Extensions.