Google announced today that they have released a new-and-improved version of its Structured Data Testing Tool, available in beta as the Rich Results Test. The name of the tool reflects – as noted in the announcement post – the fact that what Google had previously referred to as "rich snippets, rich cards, or enriched results" will now be called "rich results" moving forward.
(For the record, even though the Google post title starts with "Introducing Rich Results" this is nomenclature that they've been using for over a year.)
Here's my preliminary look at this new tool, especially in comparison to the Structured Data Testing Tool – which continues to be available while the Rich Results Test is in beta.
An important point to note, particularly if you're reading this post right after its publication, is that the tool is in beta, and that it doesn't yet support the full range of data types supported by the Structured Data Testing Tool. These limitations are outlined in the Search Console help document on the "Rich Results Test".
Supported rich result types
This test currently supports only the following rich result types:
- Job posting
Unreported type errors
- This tool does not currently show schema.org syntax errors
- Various other errors (hey, it's beta)
So, for the time being, continue to consider the Structured Data Testing Tool results as the definitive structured test results for Google, especially for the data (rich result) types not yet supported by the new tool.
Eligibility for rich results
The Structured Data Testing Tool never explicitly states whether a given page (or code block) is eligible for rich snippets. The closest the tool comes is to provide a "PREVIEW" link when results are capable of generating a rich result, and only then after you click through to the eligible data type.
Eligibility is now front-and-center in the Rich Results Test response, with pages that are eligible for rich results clearly labelled as such, along which data type ("Detected structured data") for which the page is eligible.
It's equally obvious when a submitted page isn't eligible for a rich result.
There is also a third category pertaining to rich result eligibility, seemingly triggered when a page could be eligible for rich results if errors were corrected.
Details on these errors are provided in a pane on the "Detected structured data" section of the test results.
Again, be cognizant that only job postings, recipes, courses and movies are currently supported by the tool, as per the prominent message at the top of a test results page.
This is a beta version. Not all rich results and error types are supported yet.
Rich results preview
As noted above, the old tool only displays a preview link under the relevant data type, whereas the new tool makes it apparent from the main test results page that a preview is available.
Where there is a single preview available there doesn't seem to be any material difference between what the new and old tools display. However, whereas the old tool provides a desktop view when the test is conducted from a desktop device…
… the new tool renders a mobile preview by default, even on desktop.
There is a "Preview as:" link next to the preview that seemingly gives you the ability to toggle between mobile and desktop results, but for all the tests I conducted (and I tested all supported types) the only option was "Mobile view".
There is, however, one definite difference between the tools when it comes to preview functionality. The old tool only ever provides one preview link, whereas the new tool provides access to multiple previews when the page is eligible for more than one type of rich result.
These are listed as "Result type 1", "Result type 2", and so on in the upper left hand side of the preview pane.
For the recipe page I tested two results were available. A preview with the recipe rich result in a carousel:
And a preview showing a standalone recipe rich result:
Snapshot sharing and page submission
A welcome piece of new functionality is the ability to share test results. In the Structured Data Testing Tool results can only be shared via screenshot or some other manual mechanism. The new Rich Results Test tool, however, provides a simple sharing button by which a sharing link is displayed and made available for copying.
The Rich Results Test also allows webmasters to submit a URL for indexing directly from the tool's test results.
Code validation and error messages
A warning here that my observations here are preliminary, and that I haven't spent a lot of time looking at how the new tool handles code validation or at the messages the tool generates. But with that proviso in mind, here's what I've seen so far.
The two tools provide similar messages when it comes to recommended (i.e. optional) and required properties.
A notable difference, however, can be seen by how the two tools handle an invalid or unrecognized property (I haven't dug into type errors).
When it encounters an invalid property, the Google Structured Data Testing Tool complains. Here's what it has to say about the property
subjectOfStudy, which is not in schema.org.
However a Rich Results Test doesn't provide any messages about this non-existent property at all.
Whether this is an improvement or a drawback depends on how you look at it. It's an improvement if you don't want vocabulary validated that doesn't materially impact the ability of a page to be used for a rich result. And it appears, as the name "Rich Results Test" suggests, that Google has shifted the focus with this tool on the nuts and bolts of Google rich results, rather than more generalized vocabulary or syntax information.
On the other hand, this is useful information for debugging, and for future-proofing code. But this may yet come. The support document says that there are "unreported type errors", noting that the "tool does not currently show schema.org syntax errors" and "various other errors (hey, it's beta)".
Whither editable code?
The Google Structured Data Testing Tool allows you to either provide a URL for testing or to paste code directly into the tool for validation – and then to edit that code directly in the tool, regardless of whether it came from a URL or pasted code, and then re-test the edited code.
The Rich Results Test is, right now anyway, all URLs all the time.
Run the test
Submit the full URL of the page to test. The page must be publicly accessible by an anonymous user in order to test it (it cannot require auth, or be robotted against Googlebot). If your page is behind a firewall or hosted on your local machine, you can still test it by exposing a tunnel.
That's quite a drag, and that's certainly the feature from the Structured Data Testing Tool that I'd most like to see carried over to the Rich Results Tool. The ability to edit and test code on the fly is an enormous time saver.
Other features and summary
The announcement blog post says that the "new tool provides a more accurate reflection of the page’s appearance on Search and includes improved handling for Structured Data found on dynamically loaded content".
To this first point, that seems to be true insofar as there are multiple previews available when a page is eligible for them, and that a mobile preview is shown by default.
To the second point I've not yet attempted to validate any dynamically loaded content with the new tool (but for that matter I didn't encounter any particular problems with dynamic content using the Structured Data Testing Tool).
All in all the new tool shows promise. It certainly looks sharper than the old tool, the ability to share test results is encouraging, and I think that we can expect better (and clearer) error and warning messages as the tool matures.
But please bring that code editing function back.