What does using Google Translator mean for my website?

22nd January 2015

What does using Google Translator mean for my website?

Let’s imagine your website is doing well with online sales and revenue is rapidly increasing. You start getting enquiries from visitors in other countries, in their own language, which you don’t quite understand. You would be forgiven for thinking the easiest and most obvious solution would be to use Google Translate – just to get the gist of what the enquiry is about … The ‘English’ Google Translate provides isn’t perfect but it’s okay. Then you either reply in English or you switch the language pair and get Google Translate to ‘translate’ again before sending your reply in their language. If these overseas enquiries keep coming, you may decide to translate your website into a foreign language – to reach this foreign audience faster and provide better customer service.

Google can ‘translate’ your website free-of-charge, so you decide to use Google Translate for the whole website; this will not only save you money, but also time you would have spent searching for a translation agency and then updating your on-site content, in conjunction with them. A few weeks later you experience an abrupt drop in enquiries. You could start with asking your contacts or friends, to get their opinion on the matter, but let us save you time and tell you the truth – your ‘free translation’ is completely incomprehensible and utter gibberish.

Google Translate is a statistical machine translation engine that looks for patterns in millions of documents and selects the best ‘translation’ it can find. It generates an artificially intelligent guess. Some of the guesses are more intelligent than others! The reason is that, by definition, it struggles with the finer nuance and meaning of language. In other words, your website, which is designed to attract customers, may make no sense at all and will actually be repelling your audience. Would you buy from a website written in very poor English? Would it give you the confidence you need to input your credit card details?

I’m guessing your answer is “No”.

Of course, there are many reasons why you may experience a dip in enquiries and / or sales; but poor translation lacks credibility and can only indicate a low quality website.

Not only does Google penalise unedited machine translated content in its search but it may also labels it as spam, so you are actually lowering the chances of your product or page being found on Google, and you may even get an email stating that you have violated their guidelines! You can read Google’s guidelines here.

Research conducted by Common Sense’s Advisory last year shows that:

“87% of consumers who can’t read English don’t buy products or services at English-language websites.”

This report was based on the survey of 3,002 consumers, in non-English-speaking countries, in locations such as Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Spain, and Turkey. As stated above, the research found that 87% of consumers who can’t read English don’t buy products or services at English-language websites. 87%!

In addition, 55% of those with a good understanding of English will still, only, buy from a website in their own language.

In conclusion; if you want to increase your international sales, do not be tempted by the perceived short-term benefits of using ‘free’ services, such as Google Translate, to create your international content. A well-researched translation, undertaken by a professional linguist, will always prove to be the more profitable option in the long- run (and the short and middle!).

If you are unsure on what to do next, contact us here and we’ll ensure you get the best professional advice on how you need to plan your, successful, international campaign.

We’ll also make the process as easy as possible for you – so you can focus on doing what you do best – running your business.




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