The landscape of SEO can leave beginners scratching their heads for hours.
Domain Authority, internal links, follow links, meta descriptions — there’s plenty of stuff to learn before anyone can proficiently structure a sound SEO strategy, let alone actually get some results.
On the bright side, the internet is teeming with SEO tutorials and information-rich articles that can help anyone learn the ropes. The Long Tail Pro blog, for example, is chock full of learning resources and is constantly topped off with new ones regularly.
What a lot of guides don’t talk about, however, is schema markup and how to use structured data to rank higher and get more clicks on Search Engine Results Pages or SERPs.
You read the title — this post is about finding the best schema testing tool you can use to make sure you got it right. But first, a little introduction.
What is Schema?
Ever used Google and found listings that are spiced up with extra features?
I’m talking about internal search bars, star ratings, submenus, images, and other elements found underneath page titles on SERPs.
Also known as rich snippets, these enhanced descriptions are made by schema markup to make pages stand out in search engine results.
Schema markups can also be used to help search engines comprehend and index your content through structured data. Anything — from your business phone number to your street address — can be sorted into data items that search engines can read and factor in when indexing your website.
In other words, schema markups will not only help your website garner more clicks on SERPs, they will also accelerate the indexing process and help you attain higher search engine rankings faster.
Sounds cool, right?
It should, given Schema.org is the product of a collaborative effort between Google, Yandex, Bing, and Yahoo way back in 2011.
Now that we’ve properly introduced schema markup, it’s time to discuss how to use them.
Using Schema Markup Generators
Before you look for a schema testing tool, you need to learn how to generate them so you have something to test.
This “schema, structured data, and rich snippets” business may seem intimidating, but they’re really not that complex. In fact, you don’t need any coding experience to create and use them for your website.
A number of SEO services and blogs offer free schema markup generators you can use on a whim. The deal’s pretty straightforward — choose the type of page you’re trying to generate a schema markup for, enter the right URL, and tag the specific elements you want to use as data items.
The Google Structured Data Markup Helper is a great place to start.
Upon initiating the tool, the first step is to choose a data type and enter the URL or HTML file of your page.
After which, you will be taken to an interface where you can begin tagging the on-page elements you want to use in your markup.
Don’t worry, the process is a lot more intuitive than you think. You just have to highlight the elements you want and select a specific type of data from the list.
For example, here’s how you can take reviews and tag them using the “Review body” data type.
Just remember that you can tag multiple elements using the same data type. In the example above, tagging multiple client testimonials with the “Review body” data type would look like:
Once ready, click “Create HTML” to generate the schema markup code that you’ll paste into the header section of your page’s HTML document.
It’s worth noting that there are two code formats you can use when generating your schema markup: JSON-LD and Microdata.
In the past, JSON-LD wasn’t fully supported by Google due to many of its features. Today, however, it’s the recommended schema markup format, which is why it’s selected by default.
You can refer to this post from the Google Developers blog to learn more about the differences between JSON-LD and Microdata as well as why you should stick to the former.
Other Schema Markup Generators
Apart from the Google Structured Data Markup Helper, there are plenty of other tools you can use to generate structured data for your website.
For WordPress users, among the best tools you can use is a plugin called Schema — that’s it.
Just like Google’s tool, Schema walks you through the entire process with user-friendly prompts. You start by specifying the type of website you want to create and then proceed to fill in the rest of the details, such as the name of your organization, your logo, social media links, and so on.
The Schema App is another structured data markup generator you can use for almost any type of schema. It follows a slightly different — but more thorough — configuration process than the tools that were previously mentioned.
For one, rather than picking the page or data type you want to utilize, Schema App requires you to select a “Child Type,” which can be further refined into more specific data types.
The “Place” child type, for instance, can be narrowed down into landforms, historical buildings, local businesses, residential properties, tourist attractions, and so on.
For a comprehensive list of the data types supported by the Schema App, you can expand the “Jump To Schema.org Type” drop-down menu. You may be surprised how specific Schema App can be when it comes to data and page types!
Lastly, Data Highlighter is a great alternative to the Structured Data Markup Helper tool, especially for marketers who already use the Google Search Console. This can be accessed by logging into your dashboard and clicking “Data Highlighter” under the “Search Appearance” section.
The configuration process should be familiar to you by now — beginning with a page URL field and a drop-down menu where you can choose the data type you want to use.
For rich snippets like logos, visual content carousels, site links, and social profiles, I urge you to check out the in-depth “Rich Cards” guide from Google. It has all the technical information about structured data search features, including a closer look at the terms and a few examples to help you grasp them.
Here’s another tip when creating schemas for your content: Don’t forget the essential on-page SEO practices.
In order to maximize the impact of your schema markup on your search engine rankings, make sure you do keyword research to understand how your target audience search for information online. Doing so will enable you to determine which data types to use and how to weave them into your content.
Since we’re talking about cream-of-the-crop tools, it would be irresponsible of me not to recommend Long Tail Pro as your primary keyword research tool — for the sole reason that it has the whole package.
Long Tail Pro can scoop up hundreds of long-tail keyword variations in seconds, let you comb through the results with filters, allow you to peek at your competitor’s keywords, and more.
That about covers the tools you can use to prepare your schema markup.
The only question remaining is, will it work?
This is where a schema markup tester would come in handy.
Finding a Good Schema Testing Tool
Just like schema generators, you have a number of different options for your structured data testing tool.
Let’s start, of course, with a tool from a developer we can trust.
1. Google Structured Data Testing Tool
In the SEO sphere, Google isn’t only known as the biggest search engine and influential force in the industry. The company is also known as a generous provider of free tools that can help marketers hit their website optimization goals.
The official Google schema checker — the Structured Data Testing Tool — is as simple as you can get as far as structured data testing goes.
All you have to do is enter the URL of the page you want to test or the actual markup using the “Code Snippet” option.
The test should take several seconds — a minute, at most — to complete. When done, the tool will show you the complete HTML document along with the detected data items in the markup. These will be arranged under tabs where you can check the preview of the snippet and the number of errors or warnings found.
2. Google Search Console – Structured Data Report
Before we branch out to other developers, here’s another tool from Google that can help you verify your schema markups.
Going back to your Google Search Console account, you can access the “Structured Data Report” tool that shows you a complete list of all markups found on your website.
The report page will also show you in case errors are found in any schema. In which case, you can expand the markup view to reveal the complete list of all the page URLs with markups and a handful of useful metrics, such as the total number of data items, the number of items with errors, and the date when the schema was last detected.
The Structured Data Report offers a quick way of spotting schemas with errors, even if you own a large website with hundreds of live pages. Simply click the “Items with Errors” column header to sort your pages and fight the ones that need work.
3. 3WhiteHats Structured Data Testing Tool
Aptly positioned at number three, the 3WhiteHats Structured Data Testing Tool is a free browser extension that automatically tests the schema of the current page.
After the installation, simply click on the extension’s icon on your browser’s toolbar to initialize the test.
Within a few seconds, you will be presented with a table that contains all the detected data types on the page. The number of errors, items, and warnings will also be displayed under their respective columns.
To view more details, simply click on any of the values on the table. For example, you can click on the underlined “5” in the example above to view the warnings detected on the “Recipe” data type.
4. Yandex Structured Data Validator
If you’ve been paying attention to this post, you’ll know that Yandex is one of the search engines that founded Schema.org.
Yes, they also offer a free tool that can help you test your structured data markups.
An advantage of this tool is that it provides feedback on errors in-line as the preview of your schema is generated. For example, using one of the sample markups, you will notice that the error is easily visible and well-defined.
5. Rich Results Test
For website owners who use rich snippets to add carousels, star ratings, and so on, a rich snippet testing tool like the Rich Results Test from the Google Search Console is another must-have.
As expected, Google prioritized usability and function when they designed this tool. The only input you need to do is enter the page URL you want to test, click “Run Test,” and let the tool do its work.
Once the test is complete, Rich Results Test will take you to an overview page that outlines all the structured data found on the page and validates if they work.
Of course, the tool also lets you closely inspect any existing warnings and errors in your structured data. The best part is, it’ll also point you to relevant resources that can help you dissect the issues and come up with an actionable solution.
Nice, you made it to the end of this guide.
Schema markups might seem like a very technical topic to be covered in a single post. But with the guide above, you should be knowledgeable enough to take advantage of structured data for SEO.
To wrap up, here’s a list of the takeaways you ought to remember:
- Schema not only helps with the indexing process but it can also improve click-throughs by creating standout descriptions.
- Schema markups are purely code, but they can be generated with the help of tools.
- There are plenty of schema testing tools you can use to check if your markups work.