Matt Crowley - July 14, 2014
It can be a complicated process to implement schema.org structured data markup and ensure that it is done properly. With all of the nuances that come along with structured data markup, and the fact that even proper implementation does not guarantee rich snippets; your ability to identify any issues can be quite limited. However, Google provides a few tools that can be used to help you with implementation and testing. We explore these tools below, but remember, even with proper implementation, rich snippets may not show for your results.
Tools for Implementing Structured Data Markup
If you are having trouble with inputting the proper code on your web pages, consider using one of the following tools to help.
- Google’s Data Highlighter Tool: We have covered this tool and how to use it extensively, so we won’t go into much more detail today. This tool can be great if you are not technically inclined, and have simple items and attributes to markup. However, it is important to remember that although this tool doesn’t require you to add code to your site, it does tie you to Google. If Google decides to stop supporting the data highlighter tool in the future, or if you would like to have rich snippets in other search engines such as Bing, you may find yourself in a difficult position.
- Google Structured Data Markup Helper: This is a relatively new addition to Google’s structured data toolset. You can think of this as a practice “simulator” for the data highlighter tool. Without requiring you to login and actually take the steps to highlight data that will be used immediately, you can input the URL of a practice page and highlight away! This tool can even be used on your development or test site prior to launching new pages or even a new website. The best feature is that this tool allows you to view the HTML after you have highlighted the necessary attributes. Use this feature to compare against any coding that you have done. The one downfall to this tool as well as the data highlighter is that it only allows for basic markup. If you are looking to markup-complicated attributes, these tools will be significantly limiting.
Tools for Testing Structured Data Markup
If you have implemented structured data markup on your website and are interested in testing it for accuracy, consider the following tools from Google.
- Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool: Once you have implemented schema.org markup and are ready to test it (we recommend testing this on a development / test server before pushing the changes live) this tool is extremely helpful. It provides granular insight on what attributes are currently marked up and what their corresponding values are. This tool can catch some common errors, however it is best to use this tool in order to compare your implementation to the code found on each schema.org page (such as schema.org/events).
- Google Webmaster Tools: After you have implemented your markup, tested it, and pushed your changes to your live website, it’s important to verify that Google is able to properly crawl the live data. Once you login to Webmaster Tools, navigate to the “Structured Data” section under “Search Appearance.”
If Google has not had time to crawl your newly implemented markup, or if it was not implemented in a way that Google can understand, you will see the following message:
If you have properly implemented the markup, you will see a chart similar to the one below that displays the number of items Google has detected markup for, as well as any errors that they are seeing:
Ultimately, there is still a long ways to go in order to make structured data markup easy to implement and test for everyone. However, the tools mentioned above will greatly improve your chances of properly implementing structured data markup. Now, go mark up your data!