How To Test Schema Markup
July 12, 2021
Though it may sound technical, schema markup is one of the best ways to tell a search engine what your site is all about. And, if done correctly, it could cause your SEO efforts to skyrocket.
But what is Schema markup, and more importantly, how do you test it? Many people think that testing your site’s schema involves looking at lines and lines of code, but the truth is, there are several different ways to examine your site for technical errors. And, best of all, just about anyone can do it.
However, in order to properly examine and fix the schema markup on your site, you’ll have to know exactly what schema is and why it’s so important. Chances are, your site is bursting at the seams with data that can appear right in the search results and increase your clickthrough rate, but if you don’t have the right schema markup, it won’t appear.
Since it can appear so technical though, we’ve asked SEO experts what tools they use to check the schema on their own sites. Work through them and see which approach works best for you, and you should notice your results improve over time.
What is Schema Markup?
Though usually associated with SEO, the term “schema” actually applies to any kind of plan or theory that is used as an outline. Designed for quick reading, the schema tells you exactly what shape the content is in, pointing out highlights and facts that are most pertinent to the reader so that they can digest it as easily as possible.
The same holds true for the schema markup of a website. Usually put into some kind of code, the schema markup provides a set of tags that you can attach to your HTML that enables search engines to quickly understand the data that is on your webpage. Any kind of information can be marked up, such as event dates, recipes, and even dosage information for medicines.
While this may not sound like a big deal, it actually represents a huge boost for the reader, since they don't have to click through to the website in order to attain the information that they want. That being said, most sites that have schema markup report a higher click through rate, so it's definitely worth adding, if for no other reason than to build credibility within your niche.
Truthfully though, one of the most amazing aspects of schema markup is not what it does, but how it was created. Designed as a multi-platform approach across several different search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, the goal was to help content creators describe their site in the most accurate way possible. These platforms were able to put their competitive differences to the side in order to create a formula that would serve searchers more efficiently.
Why is Schema Markup So Important?
Despite its technical sounding nature, schema markup is relatively simple to add to your page using a a few simple tools. While it would be ideal to have every page of your site marked up for schema, the main pages that you want to address are the ones that have rich data on them. A calendar of events, TV episodes, and even product descriptions are perfect candidates for schema.
But why should you go to the trouble of doing all that, no matter how simple it is? Truthfully, experts are divided as to its importance. For instance, there is no direct evidence that suggests that pages with schema markup rank higher, but most digital marketers do agree that schema markup dramatically improves click through rates, which, in turn, improves conversions.
One of the biggest advantages to marking up your website is the competitive edge that you have over other sites. Only about 1/3 of websites that rank on Google right now are marked for schema, and since this is a multi-platform approach, it will most likely be around well into the future. Getting your schema marked up now can future-proof your content for years down the road.
How Do I Test My Site for Schema Markup?
Since schema is not as widely used (or understood), it's very possible that most of your sites don't have any schema markup at all. If you use WordPress, certain plug-ins can help implement this automatically, but it still usually falls on the developer to create the specific schema that they want for their site.
There are a plethora of different ways that you can check your site for schema, many of which are free and very simple to use.
Structured Data Testing Tool (SDTT)
At the time of this writing, the SDTT is one of the most efficient ways to read the markup on your site — if the schema exists in the first place. Though it is in the process of being phased out, it is still available for general use, along with all the tools necessary to examine your site. Don't worry though, once the SDTT is fully deprecated, the Schema Markup Validator (mentioned below) will take its place, and will provide a very similar set of tools.
To use it, simply go to the website and insert your URL. Hit "Run Test," and the validator will show you all of the schema on the right hand side of the screen, with the corresponding code on the left. Any errors or warnings will automatically appear, indicating what type of changes need to be made to your site.
Since the SDTT is in the process of going away, there are a few caveats that need to be mentioned when using this tool. First off, it doesn't handle caching very well, so any URL that is inputted may show an old page, for instance. You can usually run code snippets inside of a new test to determine a more accurate reading, but you may still have mixed results. Alternatively, you may experience odd errors that no longer make sense for your site, such as seeing out of date images associated with your URL that are no longer present when viewing the website manually.
The SDTT is better used in conjunction with other tools, such as the Rich Results Testing Tool (RRTT) mentioned below, so that you can get a more accurate reading of your site.
Rich Results Testing Tool (RRTT)
The Rich Results Testing Tool isn't as much of a schema testing site as much as it is an auditor, but it's still a very powerful when it comes to testing out the rich results on your site. The RRTT links directly with your Google Search Console and displays all of the possible snippet opportunities that you have at your disposal, and even gives you a preview as to what your page could look like in the SERPs.
The only drawback is that the RRTT will only display opportunities that are already eligible for rich results, so you won't be able to see the rest of the schema right away. You can dig in to the JSON data to make sure that your website is being crawled, but beyond that, it is relatively limited.
Google Search Console
If you've been in SEO for any amount of time, you’re most likely familiar with the Google search console. There is a huge amount of information that you can pull from the Google search console, and some of it is more technical than others, but it's hard to get more accurate with your info than by looking inside the GSC for your specific site.
Along the left-hand side of your console, there's a tab that says breadcrumbs. From there, you can click through your site to see if there are any errors, as well as how many of your pages are valid. If there are errors in your site, that page won't be eligible for rich results, so you'll have to fix it. Fortunately, if you have a plug-in like Yoast, you should be able to edit it relatively simply inside the admin section of your website. You can even add other schema markups, depending on what you want to show in the rich results.
Schema Markup Validator (SMV)
As of May 2021, the Schema Markup Validator is officially live on schema.org, and was originally intended to replace the SDTT that was mentioned earlier. Though it now works in tandem with the other services, the SMV provides the most comprehensive and easy to read overview of your website’s schema. You simply put in the URL, click "Run Test," and you're able to see all of the structured data and syntax mistakes that may be present.
For new SEO's (and those who want to do a quick audit), the SMV is a valuable contribution to your toolbox. While you may not be able to change it inside of schema.org, you'll be able to see very quickly what changes do need to take place, so that you can get them altered and have your webpages ranking in no time.
About THE AUTHOR
After working for multiple digital advertising agencies and managing hundreds of client accounts, spending millions of dollars via Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Native Ads and Direct Media Buying, I took things out on my own and started SparrowBoost. Now, my tight-knit team and I continue to get smarter and more efficient at running our own campaigns and we share our knowledge with you.Learn more about SparrowBoost