Use This Tool to Avoid Getting Dinged By Yoast’s Passive Voice Warning
News Courtesy of Yoast.com:
What is the passive voice?
The passive voice is a grammatical construction. The easiest way to explain the passive voice is by contrasting it with the active voice. The active voice is the standard English sentence structure. The simplest possible sentences feature an actor (the subject), who does (the verb) something to either a person, animal or thing (the receiver).
Word Mom hugged me Semantic function actor direct verb receiver
In the passive voice, the actor and receiver are switched around. The receiver becomes the grammatical subject. Note that the meaning of the sentence stays exactly the same. The only difference is the word order.
Word I was hugged by mom Semantic function receiver direct verb actor
In some passive sentences, you can omit the actor. ‘I was hugged’, for example, is a perfectly sensible passive sentence, although it provides less information.
Why should I avoid the passive voice?
Let’s cut to the chase: using the passive voice almost always makes your writing more distant and your message less clear.
Since I started seriously blogging over a year ago, it’s always been my goal to get both the SEO and Readability analysis in the green. In doing so, I’ve found that it has helped me to become a better writer and obviously rank for targeted keywords. The key is to get the overall average of each test from Readability and SEO with the majority of green bullets. That’s easier said than done, especially if you’re writing about a complex subject.
No matter how well I think I’ve written a post, the first draft is ALWAYS marked with a red or orange bullet for passive voice. Before using Yoast, I’ve never even heard of the term. However, after making corrections to avoid it, it’s easy to see the benefits that it provides to the reader. For one, it makes sentences shorter which helps improve another Readability test, Flesch Reading Ease. Secondly, it really changes the tone of your post to give it more of an authoritative voice. If you’re confident in what you’re writing, people will naturally trust you more. I’m not saying that is right, just a mere observation.
So how do you find all those instances of passive voice in your blog post? I’ll tell you how I do – this handy tool right here. This passive voice detector doesn’t always find every infraction. I’d say closer to 90%. Although, that is usually enough to get beneath the 10% threshold to get the green bullet.
The technique I employ to make corrections to passive voice issues is to copy and paste sections of my blog post into the tool. Usually, a few paragraphs at a time. Then it is simply a matter of hitting the Re-Analyze button and rewording the offending pieces. Sometimes this is an easy change of switching words around. Other times I may have to completely restructure/rewrite a sentence. It’s tedious but definitely worth correcting so that you can boost reader engagement.