Localize your eCommerce or use Google Translate? How web translation impacts web users in international markets

Google Translate is very useful: free and speedy, it instantly and automatically translates over 100 languages. In Google online, with the app or the web plugin, we can get an idea of what any website or text says thanks to Google Translate.

Many webmasters and those with an online business, opt for using Google Translate for websites as a way to reach more international users and open their possibilities for sales across the globe.

Immensely popular, Google Translate is used to translates millions of words a day, is accessible and easy to use, works on mobile devices and resolves countless linguistic doubts sin an instant.

However, the translations provided by Google Translate are far from perfect. If you don’t believe me, go to any text-heavy website, an online newspaper for example, in any language that is very different from your own (Russian, Hebrew, Chinese or Tagalog for example) and use Google Translate to translate it to English. You’ll see that it’s not the professional translation you’d expect when ready an official page or professional copy.

For this reason, it is best to exercise caution when using Google Translate as your official “translator” for your website. Google Translate is fine for rapid translations, especially when the content is not key to your business’ image or for providing clients and prospects with reliable information they can use to make decisions. If it’s generalist info that does not affect your business’ reputation or your clients, Google Translate is an acceptable solution– especially if grammar and accuracy are not important.

Google Translate is ideal when you want to give or garner a notion of what a text is about, but if you need to make a positive, accurate and professional impression on your clients, users or other businesses, then we do not recommend using Google Translate on your website. In the case of an online shop, we recommend going with human translation– after all, your image and the reputation of your business are at state: if I visit your website and I see that everything in my language is written incorrectly or with poor grammar, it’s likely it won’t feel trustworthy and I’ll avoid buying anything.

Human translators are able to understand and represent the context of any text, as well as localizing it to a specific geographic area. This is fundamental if you want to connect with a specific target and 1) assure that they understand what you have on offer 3) provide a website experience that is both trustworthy and professional.

Some clients complain about the costs of human translation– generally, we recommend that clients first use human translation for their primary and most important markets, and then expand to include additional languages little by little. Just remember the last time you entered in a site with an iffy translation, surely you left pretty quickly and did stick around to purchase anything. For this reason, it’s best to tackle translation gradually but professionally, rather than using Google Translate for all languages from the get go; this way you will gain clients who will come back again in the future.

Since human translation has its costs, you can also start with just a few strategic languages and then use Google Translate for those languages that are less important to your business (if you don’t have any clients in Azerbaijan for example, you can probably use Google Translate for Azerbaijani). Using Google Analytics can help you determine where in the world the bulk of your traffic comes from, not to mention looking at your sales history.

Remember also that human translation takes time– you’ll need to allow sufficient time for any translation project and cannot expect to have an entire site translated in a few days.

If you’d like to know more about how All Around can help you with international expansion online, contact us.

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Client Success Manager

Alexis is our Client Success Manager at All Around. She is a Digital Marketing Specialist and Manager with 15+ years of experience in international markets. She is a dedicated client partner, ready to take businesses to the next level, with vast expertise in digital strategy, operations, project management, reporting, budgeting and negotiation.