Why Google’s Structured Data Validator Shows Errors While Official Schema Version Doesn’t

In a Google SEO Office Hours, Google’s Martin Splitt answered a question about structured data validation and how Google’s validator can show different results than the Schema.org validator.

Structured Data Validation

Both Google and Schema.org offer tools for validating if structured data is correct.

Google’s tool is called the Rich Results Test.

Schema.org’s tool is called the Schema Markup Validator.

Google’s tool validates structured data and it also offers feedback on whether the tested structured data qualifies for rich results in the search engine results pages.

Rich results are enhanced search listings that makes the listing stand out on the search results.

The Schema.org Schema Markup Validator checks if the structured data is valid according to the official standards.

Why Does Google’s Validator Differ From Schema.org?

One would think that both structured data validators are validating by the same rules.

So it’s a good question as to why both validators may show different results.

The person asking the question noted that their structured data validated perfectly on the Schema.org but not with Google’s validator.

They asked:

“Why does structured data show errors on Google but not schema.org?

Google Search Console is showing errors for invalid enum value in field ‘returnFees‘ but our schema.org test says no error.

Please advise.”

Google’s Martin Splitt answered:

“Schema.org is an open and vendor-independent entity that defines the data types and attributes for structured data.

Google, as a vendor however, might have specific requirements for some attributes and types in order to use the structured data in product features, such as our rich results in Google Search.

So while just leaving out some attributes or using some type of values for an attribute is fine with Schema.org, vendors such as Google and others might have more specific requirements in order to use the structured data you provide to actually enhance features and products.”

Purpose of Google’s Validator

Google’s validator has a purpose that is different from just checking if the structured data is valid.

It’s checking to see if the structured data that Google requires (for potentially showing a webpage in enhanced search results) is valid.

The Schema.org validator is just checking for standards and has nothing to do with how Google uses structured data.

Is Google’s Validator Better?

One more thing to know about the Schema.org validator is that it can sometimes falsely report that valid code is invalid.

I recently encountered this where I took a JSON-LD structured data example of correct code from Schema.org and tested it in both validators.

The Schema.org validator showed a false error while Google’s validator correctly validated it.

So at least in this case, Google’s validator was more accurate.

It’s always a good practice to check Google’s structured data guide to make sure you’re site is coding for Google because the general use of structured data is for enhanced listings.

Listen to the SEO Office Hours at the 4 minute mark:

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