Stunning adverbs and exotic adjectives never redeem a mediocre verb. Whenever I edit for web, I quickly notice a writer that relies on adjectives to the detriment of their overall sentence structure. I suppose this is a quick way to inject some flavor into a dull sentence.

The blood test was in the morning becomes The painful, serious blood test was in the early hours of the morning. Yet, the sentence has hardly improved. The sentence structure builds on passive voice and the colorful language doesn’t improve this fundamental flaw. If the writer flipped the subject of the sentence to create active voice, the entire sentence would improve.

Active Voice Vs. Passive Voice

Active Voice: James ate the burger.
Passive Voice: The burger was eaten by James.

When you write a sentence in active voice, the subject is the one doing the action expressed by the verb. By contrast, passive voice makes the subject into the person or thing that is acted upon. These sentences rely on a form of the verb be:

  • is
  • are
  • was
  • were
  • been
  • etc.

People struggle to understand passive voice sentences. The sentences are less concise.

Why Search Engines Prefer Active Voice

Search engines algorithms aim to answer user questions. First, a user types a query. Then, the search engine aims to serve up the most useful results. Search engines favor websites that provide the best answer to the question posed by a query. This is why there are many tools and websites that guide writers in identifying passive voice. Then, you have the opportunity to correct it.

Generally, search engines prefer active voice because it affects readability. Website user behavior favors easy-to-read content. Search engines pick up on this behavior using several metrics such as:

  • On-Page Time
  • Bounce Rate
  • Goal Completion
  • Pages per visit

If your website doesn’t perform well on these metrics, search engines realize that your text is poorly written. In return, it will favor another website’s content.

Obviously, that’s a simplistic summary. The key takeaway is to edit for humans. Write clear content on every post and page of your site. Otherwise, people will leave your site and find the information elsewhere. Search engines will penalize you for this behavior.

How to Fix Passive Voice

Active Voice: Megan swam in the water.
Passive Voice: The water was swam in by Megan.

Learning to write in active voice requires you to learn strong verbs.

Types of Action Verbs

  1. Examples of physical verbs include walk, open, jump and speak. These are all things that the object or agent can do in the physical space.
  2. Some mental verbs include concern, decide, doubt, and feel. These are often activities guided by the brain or emotions.
  3. Writers can also use linking verbs to describe a state of being such as, appear, grow, look, and remain.

If you search for lists of action verbs, you can find limitless posts and graphics to prompt and inspire.

Then, you can fix passive voice sentence-by-sentence. Most of the time, you can simply flip the object and subject of your sentence.

The result?

  • Concise thoughts
  • Quicker sentence pace
  • Higher readability

I suggest this frequently as part of my SEO services in Lynchburg VA. Your readers will thank you for this small yet, essential shift.

Additional Reading

SEO Services in Lynchburg Va

I am a writer first.  My SEO services in Lynchburg VA focus on content-heavy websites with my 14 years of professional communication experience. I optimize small business websites for search and social media to generate more traffic — and more sales.

On my profiles, you’ll find creative inspiration for your small business. Whether you work a side hustle or run a full-time LLC, your online presence will benefit from my experience. My articles highlight advice and ideas to attract your niche audience. 

Through Verderame, LLC. I offer my services to small businesses who need assistance with their websites, content, and search engine optimization. 

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