Translation Technology

3 Misconceptions About Google Translate

Learn why machine translation tools might not be the bargain they appear to be.

Craig Witt's avatar
Craig Witt

June 18, 2018

3 MIN READ

Smart marketers like you already know the value of having a website in multiple languages.

Localised, multilingual sites build trust with global audiences, help your content resonate with new and different customers, and send the signal that your company is committed to the market and its residents.

So it can be tempting to quickly tackle the job by leveraging a "free and easy" tool like Google Translate. Machine translation solutions like this look great at first glance, but there are some misconceptions about the strengths of these tools. Let's take a closer look.

Misconception #1: It’s Free

Tools like Google Translate don’t usually have up-front costs, and they’re billed as “free” tools.

But while they might not cost you out-of-pocket cash for the technology itself, the expenses show up down the line when you have to spend time—and yes, money—to fix the results they deliver.

Machine translation just isn't accurate enough for most websites. The resulting translations are usually rife with grammatical and contextual errors, and they don't have the cultural nuance and complexity that authentic human translation can provide.

This means that eventually, to maintain your credibility in a new market, you'll have to review and replace the inaccurate translations … or risk damage to your brand and reputation. That's money lost on the back-end for something that feels "free" at first.

Misconception #2: It’s Fast

DIY tools like Google Translate can feel like the fast way to get translation done when you just need to get something—anything—online to meet customer expectations or demand.

It appears to be magical stuff. Just type in or upload some content, and presto, instant translation. But a quality translation process doesn't end with the words appearing in a different language.

One critical ability software lacks is the ability to discern context. Approaches like Google Translate have no idea how your content is supposed to read to an actual human, like your prospects or customers. While software can spit out translated words relatively quickly, it can create more time investments for your team on the back-end.

To ensure quality, your team members will have to review the machine-translated content, adjust it for style, tone and brand, and even recruit development help—which are resources you may or may not have—if the resulting translations break the design and layout of your web pages.

Plus, those staffers will be on constant alert to note any hiccups in the translation process. They must then manage the entire workflow of getting content into the translation engine and back onto the website without errors. There's a lot of work in there.

So just because machines have the appearance of speed doesn’t mean they can deliver great translation, fast.

Misconception #3: It’s Complete

The truth is, serving a global market requires an awful lot more than just translating content.

When you decide to take your business global, you're making a commitment to a new market and new customers. Providing content in their preferred languages is an important step in that process, but it's far from the only one.

You'll need an on-going strategy for ensuring that your digital properties-including, but not limited to, your website-are customised for the local markets you're serving, and how the content will be personalised for these global audiences.

That strategy should include everything from content management to translation workflows and the on-going management and maintenance of your multilingual sites. And as your global business grows and changes, so too should your globalised websites.

Google Translate can’t handle any of that.

The right website translation solution can help you leverage the right tools and technology at the right time, and develop the processes and protocols that will help you scale your global website as your business grows.

Don't settle for an incomplete and underpowered website translation solution by relying solely on cheap, inaccurate machine translations. Make the investment in a translation approach that's comprehensive, and your business will reap the rewards for the long haul.

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