07 Feb One Copywriting Tip That Will Transform Your Writing
A long-time client of mine is constantly dinged by Yoast (an SEO plug-in on WordPress) for using passive voice. Search engines hate passive voice in copywriting, because it turns a simple sentence into a complex one.
If you learn how to avoid passive voice, your copywriting will instantly become better.
What is passive voice, anyway?
It’s turning the object of an action into the subject of the sentence.
Here’s an example: “The road was crossed by the chicken”
That sounds so weird, right?
“The chicken crossed the road” is so much better. It uses an active voice.
In this second sentence:
Chicken = subject (thing doing the action)
Crossed = action
Road = object (thing receiving the action)
In the first sentence, that structure gets scrambled.
Road = subject
Crossed = remains action, but with a form of “to be”
Chicken = object
3 ways to avoid passive voice in copywriting
- Double check that the subject is at the beginning of the sentence and the object is at the end of the sentence.
- Look for a form of “to be” in front of the verb. That’s usually a dead giveaway.
- Make sure it’s clear who is doing the action and who is receiving the action.
These tips sound so simple, but my gosh, they make such a big difference.
Let’s look at some more copywriting examples:
Passive voice: The fish was caught by the hawk.
Active voice: The hawk caught the fish.
In this example, the object (fish) was turned into the subject (hawk).
Passive voice: The pasta was overcooked.
Active voice: Maria overcooked the pasta.
In this example, there was no subject! Pasta was the object, but we didn’t know who did the action.
Passive voice: It can be argued that winter is better than summer.
Active voice: I think winter is better than summer.
In this example, we have a vegetable soup of verbs – can, be and argue – but we don’t know who is doing the action.
Keep this article handy when you write. If you use the tips in it, your copywriting is bound to improve.
PS – Yoast is dinging me for the article, because it contains so many sentences written in the passive voice. No good deed goes unpunished!
Photo by Negative Space from Pexels