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How do I perform SEO within my references/bibliography section of my website? I have used an aria-label for accessibility purposes, but I don't know how to optimize for the actual citations.

If I use <cite></cite> within <p></p>, the whole text within the citation will be italicized and therefore will not follow the APA citation requirements.

Am I doing everything I can for Google to understand that each <p></p> is a separate reference?

My example code section:

<section aria-label="Bibliography" class="bibliography" role="region">
   <h2>References</h2>
   <p>Hansson, S. O. (2013). Defining Pseudoscience and Science In:<em>Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem</em> Pigliucci &amp; Boudry (Eds.) Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press</p>
</section>

Following a suggestion in w3.org, would the following be acceptable even though it is not fully structured?

<section aria-label="Bibliography" class="bibliography" role="region">
   <h2>References</h2>
   <p itemscope itemtype="https://schema.org/citation" itemprop="citation">Hansson, S. O. (2013). Defining Pseudoscience and Science In:<em>Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem</em> Pigliucci &amp; Boudry (Eds.) Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press</p>
</section>
  • 1
    Why not use <cite> along with a CSS style that disables italics? – Maximillian Laumeister May 13 at 17:10
  • I would echo @MaximillianLaumeister, to use font-style:normal or font-style:inherit to prevent the default styling. All the documentation I have seen for <cite> tags seem to say that the tag should wrap the title of the work and nothing else. schema.org/Book or schema.org/ScholarlyArticle might be better semantic tags for works cited, although I don't believe either of them are really used by search engines. – tshimkus May 13 at 20:30
  • You're bibliography is never going to have SEO value. It isn't going to talk for anything. If Google did index it and users landed in it the would have a miserable experience. The tags that you use are irrelevant. At most just having some external links on the page could give your site some credibility. – Stephen Ostermiller May 14 at 17:31
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Google's web developer's guide does indicate that structured Schema data is best for SEO as

Google Search works hard to understand the content of a page. You can help us by providing explicit clues about the meaning of a page to Google by including structured data on the page.

Google suggests using JSON-LD, microdata or RDFa.

In a bid to help me learn the correct Schema.org structure, I found a handy tool in Google Webmasters called a Structured Data Markup Helper. I pasted the first HTML code I provided in the question and indicated what each bit was, and outputted the following structured HTML.

<section aria-label="Bibliography" class="bibliography" role="region">
   <h2>References</h2>
      <p itemscope itemtype="https://schema.org/Book">
         <meta itemprop="datePublished" content="Please insert valid ISO 8601 date/time here. Examples: 2015-07-27 or 2015-07-27T15:30">
         <span itemprop="author" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person">
            <span itemprop="name">Hansson, S. O.</span>
         </span>
         (2013). Defining Pseudoscience and Science In:
         <em itemprop="name">Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem</em>
         Pigliucci & Boudry (Eds.) Chicago, IL:
         <span itemprop="publisher" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Organization">
            <span itemprop="name">University of Chicago Press</span>
         </span></p>
</section>

Notice though, that the datePublished item needs a full date and not just the year. This is good for periodicals and journals where a full date is provided, but with books, all you have is the year.

The alternative to datePublished is copyrightYear (books are copyright from the year of publishing) and https://schema.org/Book provides an example where Copyright Year was provided.

Taking the advice also in http://evandavis.org/2012/05/citing-sources-using-schema-org/ regarding publisher location, this would make the structured markup the following...

<section aria-label="Bibliography" class="bibliography" role="region">
   <h2>References</h2>
      <p itemscope itemtype="https://schema.org/Book">
         <span itemprop="author" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person">
            <span itemprop="name">Hansson, S. O.</span>
         </span>
         (<span itemprop="copyrightYear">2013</span>).
         Defining Pseudoscience and Science In:
         <em itemprop="name">Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem</em>
         Pigliucci & Boudry (Eds.)
         <span itemprop="publisher" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Organization">
            <span itemprop="location">Chicago, IL:</span>
            <span itemprop="name">University of Chicago Press</span>
         </span></p>
</section>

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