SaneChoice Insights

Google Translate: Friend or Foe for Multilingual Websites?

Is Google Translate a good choice for making a multilingual website?

Google Translate is a fantastic tool when you need assistance with language translation. Many businesses use the tool on their websites in an effort to present multilingual options for customers, improving the websites usability. This can have both advantages and disadvantages. 

Here, we talk about the pros and cons of using Google Translate as a business tool and other considerations for creating a multilingual website.

Pros of Google Translate

One of the biggest pros of using Google Translate is speed. A human translator would never be able to compete with the speed of this tool. What a human translator would normally complete in an hour, Google Translate can complete in just seconds.

So, if you’re looking for a quick response for your customers, there is no better option. Additionally, the tool is free to use so it won’t cost your business anything, whereas a translator could be a significant expense. Lastly, Google Translate works from a large database that has gathered translations from language pair frequency. The translations gathered are often from humans.

Cons of Google Translate

When students are studying a foreign language, many try to use Google Translate to translate assignments from English to the language they’re studying. The problem is that most tutors can recognise when this has been done because of grammatical errors. This is the biggest problem that using Google Translate poses.

Without true knowledge of the language, the context of what’s being said can easily be lost. Literal translations can become nonsensical. 

The quality of the translation relies directly on the quality of the language pair. Although languages like English and Spanish are more readily available so the standard of language pairs is high, other languages may not be as good when translated. 

One of the biggest cons to Google Translate is that there is no way of reporting errors. If you pick up on errors during use of the tool on your website, you can’t correct it by telling Google Translate.

Do The Pros Outweigh The Cons?

Whether Google Translate works well for your business depends on how your website is used by customers. If the majority of your customers are English and Google Translate is only rarely used for well-used languages like Spanish or Italian, it may work perfectly for you. It will also help you save money on hiring a professional translator.

However, if your website is used globally and language translation is essential for global sales, Google Translate could cause your business to look untrustworthy and unprofessional. If your sales depend on good language translation, hiring a professional translator will be worth the money.

Other Considerations For a Multilingual Website

A lot of thought needs to go into building a multilingual website. A multilingual website could help you to expand into different markets across the world which will result in a larger customer base. What do you need for a multilingual website to work well?

Content Translation

As we’ve already established, translation plugins can only offer literal translation which can be confusing for foreign visitors. It’s important to make sure all of your content is translated and checked by a professional translator when you want to successfully run a multilingual website. This will also work towards improving your website’s SEO. 

Language Selection Menu

No matter what kind of website a person is using, user experience is critical. When using a multilingual website, the ability to easily choose from a language menu is essential. One of the best ways to choose a language option is from a drop down menu. Most website users will be used to finding this menu on the top right hand side of the website. If you choose to position it differently, make sure it’s highly visible.

Language Section Design

Getting the design for the language section of your website right is important. It can help to hire a website designer, especially for this element of your website. For instance, did you know that putting flags next to languages on a language menu is discouraged?

Flags represent nations, not languages. Making simple errors like this could dissuade users from engaging with your website which will affect your business sales. 

Correct Typography

You may not think that typography is relevant when it comes to language translation. However, using one type of font for English may be unreadable when the language is translated to Chinese. 

If you’d like to know more about optimizing your site for language translation, we can help at SaneChoice. Contact us for more information about website design and SEO services.

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