Website translation is the art of meeting new customers where they are across linguistic and cultural barriers. For most businesses, it’s a question of when rather than whether to translate.
But it’s also a question of how: what’s the best way to get your website translated?
LinguaLinx has helped countless companies translate their websites successfully, so we know that working with a quality language service provider (LSP) is almost always the best option.
But, since we know business owners value options and flexibility, this article will walk through some alternative options to hiring an LSP you might consider—and their potential downsides.
Then, we’ll touch on why working with an LSP for website translation is your best option.
Alternative #1: Doing it Yourself (Without a Translator)
This is one of the first considerations many businesses have when it comes time to translating a website. One or more of your employees might be fluent in multiple languages, and, depending on their job description, it might seem appropriate to task them with translating your website.
On another level entirely, you may try using a free or affordable software solution like Google Translate—that is, if the languages you’re targeting are supported within the given technology.
While both routes seem intuitive, there are a lot of problems with DIY website translations:
- Inaccurate or inconsistent translations
- No cultural sensitivity (see #2 below)
- Missing and/or untranslated words
- Spelling, grammar, and other errors
- Unimaginative, generic prose
Let’s take a closer look at the root of all these problems: the lack of professionalism.
Downside: No Professionalism, No Consistency
Hiring a trained professional—ideally, sourcing talent from a robust LSP—means unmatched coverage, flexibility, and quality assurance. You know that the person or people contacted will deliver the exact services you need, as laid out in your contract. And they’ll be fully trained and vetted, especially when you partner with an ISO 17100-certified LSP (more on this below).
All of this amounts to confidence in your website translation.
But when you’re working with a piece of translation software or someone who speaks a language but lacks formal translator training, you won’t have the same confidence.
In terms of flexibility and coverage, the best LSPs can translate into and out of most languages used across the world (LinguaLinx covers 98%). Plus, they’ll offer specialists within particular industries who have an intimate understanding of jargon and sensitivities, across tongues.
This is in sharp contrast to the next alternative—
Alternative #2: Using Ad-Hoc or Generalist Translators
Another approach to translating your website sans an LSP is piecing together a site translation with ad-hoc or non-specialized services. This might include working with an individual translator who doesn’t normally work on websites, or working with one or more contractors on individual web pages until you eventually cover most or all of your site. In theory, this could work.
However, the reality is rarely that simple—website translation is incredibly complex.
Even if you’re translating into one language, from one language, you’ll still need to account for cultural differences across communities that speak it. For example, consider these differences in the way Spanish is spoken and understood across Europe, North America, and South America:
- Letters are pronounced differently (i.e., c, s, and/or z sounding like “th,” mostly in Spain).
- Words carry different meanings (i.e., fresa means “strawberry”—or “snob” in Mexico).
- Different syntax and grammar choices are more common, like preferring past perfect constructions (“have done”) over the simple past (“did”), even in the same situations.
This is why you need to translate and localize your website for maximum reach and impact. And, unfortunately, you’re unlikely to piece together a fully localized translation in an ad-hoc manner.
Downside: Translation Without Localization
If your website is only available in one language, you’re only likely to reach audiences who are most comfortable communicating in that language. Failing to translate effectively (i.e., localize) essentially means failing to translate at all. Essentially, you're cutting yourself off from potential buyers, clients, and business partners across national and cultural boundaries.
More specifically, some experts estimate that 75% of the world population doesn’t speak English at all, and 94% doesn’t speak it natively. That’s a whole lot of business to miss out on.
On another level, failing to localize your website may even adversely impact your reach across both your existing audience and the new readers you’re trying to reach. Website translation positively impacts User Experience (UX), which is one component of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
But that translation is only going to result in positive UX if the reader considers it authentic.
So, in practice, localizing your website can lead to better positioning on all Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Search engines also take location-specificity into account, so effective website translation—fully localized—directly benefits your overall SEO initiatives, as well.
By translating ad-hoc without an LSP, you’re missing out on these benefits.
Alternative #3: Not Doing It — Staying Monolingual
The last alternative to hiring an LSP for website translation is doubling down on one language and foregoing translation altogether. In practice, this is actually not entirely possible, since readers who want to read your website in a different language may translate it on their end. Usually, they rely on Google’s auto-translate feature or another translation tool you have no control over.
However, neglecting to translate your website into a potential reader’s language may also make it less likely that they want to read your website (interact with your business) in the first place.
In effect, that means this is less an alternative than a refusal—or a failure—of translation.
And, as such, we won’t spend too much time on what this route means; it’s not one that you should really be considering long-term, unless you’re trying to limit your business opportunities.
Instead, let’s pivot into why you should translate your website, ideally through an LSP.
Why You Should Hire an LSP for Website Translations
The flaws in non-LSP approaches above, individually and collectively, should make you consider working with a partner like LinguaLinx—and that’s before considering the positives of the latter.
Of the nine reasons to work with an LSP for website translation, the biggest ones include:
- Unparalleled experience in the specific challenges unique to website translation.
- Technological advantages across word processing and AI-assisted translation.
- Comprehensive, streamlined services (a “one-stop” website translation shop).
Ultimately, this all amounts to peace of mind.
Working with a quality LSP means accessing the best talent, vetted and trained to the specific niches of your industry, locations, and the languages and cultures of your target audiences.
Get a Quote for Website Translation Projects
As you can see, there are different ways you can go about translating your website. However, the best option for most businesses is to trust a quality LSP—like us—for website translation.
We’d love to talk with you to learn more about your translation, localization, and other language needs. Please feel free to sign up for a free consultation, with absolutely no strings attached.
With LinguaLinx, you won't ever have to worry about your message getting lost as it’s translated into multiple languages. You know you're in good hands with our ISO 17100 compliance, 20 years of professional experience, and the trust we've earned from over 1500 partners.
If you’d like to talk about your website translation project, get in touch today!
Continue Learning with These Helpful Articles:
- Website Translation: DIY vs Hiring a Language Service Provider
- How to Choose a Website Translation Service Provider
- How Much Does it Cost to Translate a Website?