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Website translation – why you should use professionals

8th March 2016

Emily Robertshaw

Are you considering using Google Translate on your website? Will it generate new business?

At a recent international event, our Project Managers met with prospective clients to find out about their current means of translation. After speaking to a number of people, we were surprised by how many informed us that they’re currently trialling Google Translate or other automated machine translation tools on their websites to see how much business they generate. They’ll then make a decision based on the trial as to whether to use professionals going forward.

So, what can automated translation tools such as Google Translate do? It allows visitors to view your website in different languages within seconds. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Indeed, there are two main pros to using Machine Translation like Google; it’s quick and it’s free. The machine translation tool can translate around 2,000 words in less than a second compared to a human translator who can translate approximately 2,000 words per day, depending on the subject matter and the research required. In addition, Google Translate is completely free whereas with human translation there is a cost, usually per 1,000 words. However, is it accurate enough?

In a word, no. You’ve spent months working on your website copy to make sure the tone is right and that you’re marketing your company and products exactly as you want to. Do you want to then use an automated translation tool to translate the copy literally and ruin all of your hard work? A foreign visitor to your site could actually be put off more using the widget than if you had no translated context at all. What if they need to approach you directly to ask questions about your products or company, or even to put forward a larger business proposal?  If your original website copy does not make sense in their language, they could assume that you either don’t know the industry well enough or that you don’t value foreign business as much if you’re not willing to go the extra mile. In short, it could cost you potential customers and your reputation.

In order to sell in international markets you need to put in just as much effort as you did selling in your own market, if not more. That means your content needs to be translated by a specialist in your industry who can also replicate the style of your copy. The aim of copy on medical websites, for example, is to be highly informative but also to sell the products to the people who require them. Misleading translations or even mistranslations in this field could fail to get the meaning across, or worse, could give wrong instructions as to how to use a device. The same can be said for technical marketing copy. Mistranslations will misinform potential customers and could lose you business, or even cause problems if they purchase something that has different features to its description.

We’re interested to hear what you think. Can Google Translate really be a good interim choice or will it put prospective buyers off?

For more information on our professional website translation services click here.

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