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The global economy has expanded your potential market in a way that was not possible even ten years ago, leveling the playing field for small and big businesses. However, it does come with some issues. One of them is the language barrier.
If your website is in English, you will get your message across to about 27% of the market. Put another way, about 73% of the global market prefers websites with content in their native language. If people don’t understand the content of your website, you cannot hope to make a sale. You need to give your visitors the option of a localized experience, and for that, you need translation.
The problem is translating text from one language to another is not a simple process. Word-for-word translation does not usually work because there are nuances in language that get lost in translation. Such inaccuracies can significantly change the context of the message.
The ideal solution is a translation tool that can do the job with a fair amount of accuracy. Translation tools abound, but not all tools do the job accurately. To help you choose a good one for your website, we feature here 5 useful tools for your website content translation.
You don’t have to look very far for an easy translation tool. Google offers a free tool called Google Translate to quickly translate your site content to over 100 languages.
All you have to do is type or copy-paste your text into the box on the right, choose the language (or let the tool detect it for you), and then choose the language you want to translate it to. Hit “Translate” and copy the generated translation.
If it sounds too good to be true for a free tool, you would be wrong. According to The Washington Post, the accuracy of Google Translate is comparable to human translators, thanks to its recently updated Google Neural Machine Translation system. It still occasionally drops words and mistranslates non-standard sentences where the object of the preposition is not clear. Overall, however, it is quite accurate. It will even append the right punctuation mark for you, and it offers a pronunciation guide in case you want to know how your translated content sounds. Not bad for a free tool, eh?
The site positions itself as a one-stop localization shop offering the whole gamut of services, including web design, style editing, SEO, and of course, translation.
Bablic offers translation in any language for any website, and you can choose up to 30 languages for your site, depending on your plan. You can try the service without charge for one language, and you will not even have to register if you just want to see what your site will look like without actually publishing it.
You just have to type in the URL and click on “Try Now For Free.” Select a language you want to translate your website content to, the selector type, and type of translation. You have a choice of Machine Translation, Professional Translation (human translators), and “I will translate myself.”
You can only choose Machine Translation or self-translation for the free trial, but the Machine Translation already looks good for the most part.
You can also edit each element on your site and add more languages, but you have to sign up to access those additional features. If you decide you want to integrate the translation to your website, you also have to register. Once you do, you have to add the Bablic code snippet to the <head> tag of your site.
This tool is intuitive and simple to use even for non-techy users, and it fully automates the translation process. If you choose, you can also include automatic updates in the translation whenever you make changes to the site. It is quite affordable for small businesses considering its many features. Paid plans (after a 14-day free trial and billed annually) are from $12/month with two languages to $159 a month for unlimited languages.
Sometimes you just need really good English to make your site look professional for your target market. If you are a stickler for accuracy, then the human touch is indispensable for your English translation needs. This writing service employs professional writers who are native English speakers, so you will get impeccable site content every time. The rates are reasonable, starting at $6.99 for editing 275 words. You just have to put in the details of your order, pay for it, and wait for delivery.
It is as easy as that!
Smartling is a manual translation service that mimics the features of a machine translator. It is fully automated, yet it uses a team of human translators to do the actual job. Its API automatically captures your site content, fields it out to professional translators or to your in-house translators, and then uploads it back to your site while you relax. You can be sure that your translations will be contextually accurate and executed in a timely manner.
The biggest problem with Smartling is the price. Designed primarily for B2B companies, the paid plans are a bit rich for most small to medium companies. They start at $200 a month (billed annually). You can get a quote for a customized plan, so you might get a more affordable proposal. To get a quote for your business, you have to sign up for an account.
This translation tool does not actually translate your content. It is a web page editor for self-translation, designed specifically for professional translators. The key benefit of this tool is to capture the original text and format the translation so that it retains the original layout and HTML code.
If you think this is not such a big deal, you probably haven’t tried doing a translation in a regular text editor. Common issues you will encounter using this method include:
- Missing text because it was hidden and thus not copied
- Uneditable text
- Color or font changes
- Broken links
- Uneven or incorrect formatting
- Messed up page layouts
CatsCradle looks at the back-end to ensure that everything on the web page is in the editor. Once you finish translating the text, the tool automatically integrates it into your web page. You can monitor what is happening on the web page from the app on the fly if you want to by using its real-time view feature. The tool makes it easy for you to translate it to Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Thai, or Cyrillic because it has full support for Unicode. It also supports .hhc, .hhk, and .chm files.
You can use the free edition (Spark v4), but it has limited features. The Pro edition is free to try for 30 days, and it costs a one-time fee of £49.99 to buy. It only works in Windows-based systems, however, so Mac and Linux users are out of luck.
The Takeaway: Resonate with your target market
Localization is a key factor in connecting with your target audience if you want to go global. Before you launch an international campaign, make sure you have the appropriate translations for your site. Having localized content for your website allows your customers to easily understand your message in a language they know. It can spell the difference between spectacular success and costly failure.
UPDATE: “The Pepsi Challenge” by Carlos Augusto
So I decided to take the “Pepsi Challenge”; I reviewed the following three translation services by supplying some text from the Crazy Egg blog, and opting for both English to Spanish and English to Portuguese translations.
For simple, straightforward text translation Google Translate is the most user-friendly and simple to use service. You merely copy and paste any text and you get instant results.
English to Spanish
The accuracy of the translation is decent but very basic.
English to Portuguese
The accuracy of the translation also appears good and free of errors.
The numeric string “100” does not get translated. Instead, you must type “one hundred”, and you get the proper translation.
The English tech-slang “tool”, which we understand to mean software service, is translated to the literal words herramienta and ferramenta respectively. These words seem to be too long and may be awkward in normal speaking flow.
Bablic is my favorite service and one that I would use for my business. They offer almost all the same features as the other services but at a more reasonable price, and the Spanish translation is quite accurate as well. Most interestingly, it allows you to choose between different Spanish dialects which may be important in special cases, so that nothing gets lost in translation. Finally, they focus on web page translation, and provide you with their visual editor, giving you a live view of your website on the left, magically translated to your target language, with fine-grained controls on the right.
Smartling combines an automated tool with real humans, which means you get an actual person translating your content — not an app — providing a fully localized experience. Like Bablic, you also can choose between regional dialects, but since Smartling connects your wallet to real people, you can choose from a huge number of dialects.
While all of these translation services get the job done, Bablic is the most robust, most accurate, and best overall for business use, while Smartling is the most expensive and most accurate because they connect you to a real human translator. And of course, for quick translations at no cost to you, nothing beats Google Translate.
About the Author: Laura Buckler is a specialist in the field of writing and translation who writes to teach others about her craft. She works for online writing service, where she has honed her skills as a translation expert. Her advice is informative and based on first-hand experience. Follow her on twitter.