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Should you translate your website with Google Translate?

Should you translate your website with Google Translate?

Should you translate your website with Google Translate? 1920 1080 Keith Carr

If you want to reach clients around the word and project an international image, you may want your public-facing website in more than one language.

When it comes to website translation, there are a few options to consider:

  1. Do it yourself with the help of machine translation
  2. Pay monthly fees for an automated, updated machine translation
  3. Hire a translation company to perform a human translation for a one-time fee

Let’s look at what each of these options entails:

Do it yourself, word by word

Websites tend to be made up of short chunks of text in different menus and pages. These short texts are likely within the word count limit of free machine translators like Google Translate or DeepL.

However, translating a lot of words chunk by chunk is a painstaking process. It is going to take time to organize the texts that need translation, even if machine translation (MT) is used.

Do you or your team have time to collect these texts and enter them into a translator, sometimes word by word? Maybe you expect your web designer to do this, but they may not be willing to do so without an extra charge.

And finally, we know that a certain degree of inaccuracy is inherent to machine translation. Maybe you won’t find a mistake, but your target audience most likely will. Read more about how MT can affect your image here: https://southernconetranslations.com/en/2022/04/07/when-to-use-machine-translation-image/

MT has improved a lot in the last handful of years, but a certain percentage of an auto-translated website is likely to be gibberish, especially for more obscure languages. Imagine an online store: a machine-translated website may be clear enough to navigate, but unique product names, materials, or measurements are likely to be mistranslated.

Pay for monthly machine translation

You have probably seen a Google Translate button in the top right corner of many websites that allows you to translate the page into any language you can imagine. This “widget” was previously offered for free by Google, but is now only available for non-profit usage. Google’s biggest MT competitor, DeepL, does not yet have a website translation function.

Google does offer website translation using an application programming interface (API) with a monthly fee. Prices are pro rata (proportional and incremental) and scaled to the number of characters to be translated, and the number of target languages. 

One benefit of this service is that the translation is not static, it will improve as Google improves and update automatically when you update the source text.

However, you won’t be able to manually edit the translations, so if there is an error that could give a negative impression to clients, you are stuck with it.

Hiring a language services company

A company like Southern Cone Translations can perform a human translation of your website for a one-time fee, typically per word. As humans, we take the time to research your industry and its relevant vocabulary, write in a client-friendly tone, and double-check for errors. Not to mention, we understand the cultural nuisances of your target audience, something a machine is not yet capable of doing. If you have questions or concerns, we are more than willing to listen to you, find a solution, and make the necessary changes.

Additionally, we use computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, which are software that help us process translations section by section so nothing is missed. We can, for example, translate an Excel document and maintain its formatting without having to do so manually. These tools are expensive for a company to buy, but very useful for us to translate something that may be time-consuming or error-prone for your team.

Dedicated professionals working with the proper tools have an unbeatable advantage in terms of accuracy and fluency.

What is best for your website?

If you hope to attract new clients with your website, MT can be free or cheap, but not necessarily easy. It can be time-consuming and mistakes might be impossible to fix.

MT is likely to erase the language of marketing you need to impress clients and have at least a few errors. Your website should read naturally to your clients, as native speakers can always tell when a text sounds funny. Even if errors are few, your website may seem to lack quality or trustworthiness.

If you are not worried about imperfect language, maybe MT is perfect for your website. If you aren’t sure what you need for your website, at Southern Cone Translations, we are happy to explore all your options.