When it comes to your website copy, are you getting active – or taking the passive seat? Today talking about passive vs. active voice in sales copy, which can make a big difference to both the quality of your copy and your SEO.
If you think back to high school English class, you would’ve learned about passive and active voice: two different (but both grammatically accurate) ways of constructing a sentence. Here’s what you need to know about when to use active or passive voice in blog copy – and why it matters.
What are passive and active voices?
When writing a sentence in active voice, the sentence’s subject is doing the action expressed by the sentence’s verb. In passive voice, the subject is receiving the action of the verb.
Sounds a little confusing? Here are some examples.
- The dog chased the mouse.
- She painted a picture.
Now, the same sentences in passive voice:
- The mouse was chased by the dog.
- The picture was painted by her.
Notice the difference? It’s small, but powerful! Active voice is more, well, active – this is because it’s more direct.
Which is best for my website copy: active or passive voice?
Both active and passive voice are technically OK, as long as they’re used correctly. But when should I use active voice in my website copy instead of passive?
In most cases, active voice is better to use, especially for sales and marketing! It’s more direct and to the point, and encourages the reader to take action. With active voice, you can often say what you want to say in fewer words, which is useful for the reader – it cuts out unnecessary fluff.
Remember that your website is one of your most valuable marketing tools, so don’t beat around the bush with your copy – include clear calls to action and don’t be afraid to make bold statements.
That’s not to say there aren’t some benefits to passive voice. So should I use passive voice in my website copy? In some cases it can be useful, such as when you’re stating facts or when the person performing the action is unknown.
Example: The car was stolen. Who stole the car? It’s unknown, so it’s OK not to phrase this sentence with an active voice. Passive voice is often used in journalism and legal writing for similar reasons.
If you’re ever confused about whether a sentence you’re writing is active or passive, there are lots of online copywriting tools that can identify passive sentences for you.
Active voice and SEO – does it make a difference?
Active voice can be helpful for both SEO and user experience. Because active voice is concise, easy to read and authoritative, it’s great for the user experience on your website – which Google loves to see! It’s also more straightforward to target keywords with active voice.
Readers want information and quick answers to their search queries, and it’s easier to deliver this with active voice. Have more questions about when and how to use active or passive voice in your copy or blog posts? Get in touch anytime!