Archive for the ‘Website Localization’ Category

How much does it cost to translate a website?

If you are considering an attempt to grow your website’s audience beyond its local appeal into one that captures a large, international audience, then you must translate it into foreign languages. And unlike many things on the Internet, good translation isn’t free.

Here are the options available when it comes to translating your website:

  • Machine Translation: fast & free, but low quality
  • In-house or contract translator: the slowest and most expensive option
  • Crowd-sourced Translation: faster and cheaper than in-house or contract translators, but not free like machine translation

The Machine Translation Option: Free but…

It’s tough to beat free and there are a few machine translation services that allow you to quickly translate your site’s content for free. Two of the more popular machine translation services available are Google Translate and Microsoft’s Bing Translator. If your translation budget is zero, machine translation may be your only option.

Both Google Translate and the Bing Translator have widgets (here and here) which you can embed in your website. When embedded, they make it easy for visitors to a site to translate content on the fly.

Machine translator widgets aren’t going to do you any favors in helping you grow your international audience. The reason is because they don’t translate your content automatically, which won’t help you with SEO. Because the content is only translated by request, foreign search engines won’t readily recognize it as a resource for it’s users. For example,, the Google site for Spain, isn’t going to show your site high on many search engine result pages because as far as it knows your site is only available in english. People searching on aren’t going to be searching for english-language keywords. If your site is about potatoes, it isn’t going to show up when someone searching on for patatas.

So while machine translate may increase its accessibility to international audiences, it won’t necessarily increase its popularity. To do that, a foreign language version of your site’s content must be available at all times. The only way to do that is to run each article on your site through a machine translation service, copy the returned translation, and paste it into the appropriate place on your website. But with Google Translate, this is not allowed because of licensing restrictions. Specifically, they restrict anyone from storing and using Google Translate content on any website.

The Bing Translator does have an API you can integrate into your content management system and automatically translate your site’s content. But if you can’t find a plugin or extension that already works with your content management system you’ll have to program your own at a significant expense. And if the objective is to get the translation for free then custom programming isn’t going to be an option.

Don’t forget the accuracy problem

The biggest issue with machine translation is accuracy. Even if you were to run each and every page through a machine translation service, it might not do a very good job of retaining an international audience. It does not have enough understanding of culture and context to know how to translate everything accurately. In fact, even Google recommends against using Google Translate for marketing purposes.

Machine translation is better than nothing, but definitely not an ideal solution to help you grow the number of international eye-balls on your site.

Contract translation services: $0.20+/word

For companies needing accurate translation services, this option has traditionally been the only one available. Businesses could hire a freelancer or an agency to provide translation services, typically as a fairly substantial costs. This route is pretty simply to understand; you contract out your translation project at a cost of $0.20 – $0.30 per word (possibly more depending on the project) and in a few days or weeks it will be fully translated.

Many companies still go this route. But for a growing number of companies it is considered too expensive and too slow. This gives rise to a number of technologically-driven crowd-sourced translation companies

Translation as a Service (TAAS): $0.06 – $0.20/word

The best way to explain how TAAS provides greater value than the other options is to give an example of how it is used. Imagine you work for a tech company that has decided to begin offering your services to customers in Europe. But in order to do so you need to be able to provide customer support with with customers who communicate in German, Italian, French, and every other European language. Machine Translation is too unreliable and traditional contract translation is too slow and expensive. Historically this would be an insurmountable stumbling block for many companies eyeing overseas expansion. But with Translation as a Service, your customer service emails, trouble-tickets, even chat communications can be translated in seconds for anywhere from $0.06 – $0.20 per word.

Translation as a Service: how it works

TAAS services typically work in this fashion: as translation projects come in, they are dispatched to the most appropriate translators who are currently logged into their computers. For example, as a French-to-English translation comes in, the system dispatches the project to someone with that skill-set. The translator translates the text and the system dispatches the resulting translation to the person that requested it.

Most TAAS platforms have APIs that allow for your business tools to be integrated with their translation system. So customer service tickets and emails can be translated from their original language to English as they come in. Also, outgoing messages can be automatically translated from English to the language of the customer as they are sent, without any additional steps by the customer service team.

Another great feature of TAAS services is that larger projects are translated much more quickly than with freelance or contract translation services. The reason is because large projects can be broken into several pieces and apportioned out to multiple translators. A 100-page translation project can be broken down into 100 separate translation projects and sent to 100 different translators. Whereas a project of this magnitude could take several days, or even weeks, by traditional freelance translators, now it can be done overnight.

Multiple languages

One important thing to remember is that the cost of translation will be multiplied by the number of languages to which your content must be translated. If it costs $120 to translate your content from English to Mandarin, then you can figure it will cost roughly $120 to translate it from English to Simplified Chinese pushing your total cost of translation to $240.

In Conclusion

Machine Translation will continue to improve going into the future, but since machines can’t currently be programmed to understand context and culture, a universal translator, like the one seen in Star Trek, may not be invented until Captain Kirk’s birthday in the year 2228. Contract translation projects will always be a stable of business, but they don’t lend themselves to the scalability and speed demanded by many of today’s international companies.

Translation as a Service is a burgeoning industry capable of quickly, competently, and affordably meeting the translation needs of today’s webmasters, and at a significantly lower cost than other translation services.

Translate Large Volumes with Fast Turnaround

240,000 words processed across 11 languages in a week
SpeakLike Strings + Automated Translation Workflow + Human Translation

Our recent customer, a product manufacturer based in Europe, had a problem. They needed to prepare their website for 11 new languages in a week.  And they wanted simple handling and human translation of a large quantity of website and software content.

After a few setup steps, the custom translation system is ready for repeated use:

SpeakLike Strings handles website and software content
After our client downloaded their website content into a CSV file and set up SpeakLike quality tools (read further), they uploaded the file with close to 22,000 words into their Speaklike account at and selected their 11 languages from a list. SpeakLike translators started logging in to SpeakLike to transform the content. SpeakLike Strings accepts CSV or PO files and, for full automation, Speaklike services can be integrated with content management systems.  

SpeakLike quality tools help get consistent results
To get the best results, we worked with the client to set up their SpeakLike quality tools.

Style Guide: The Style Guide provides translators with high level guidance regarding the project, the content (in this case, marketing content), and other information. Translators often switch between different projects and look at the Style Guide for a quick reference.  Comments can also be added to individual strings for detailed clarification.

Terminology Manager: The Terminology Manager was set up to “package” their HTML code so that it can flow with the  content and be ready load in their website in 11 different languages. This packaging provides translators with guidance regarding context as well as flexibility to adjust sentence structures in their home language. The Terminology Manager can also be used to protect brand names and product names from accidental translation.

PhraseBook: The Phrase Book or Glossary helps guide translators with specific context or domain information on industry specific terms. When a word or phrase appears in the source content, the translators sees it highlighted and can reference a definition or description and a suggested translation. This glossary helps us deliver consistent results with a group of translators (more than 80 contributed to this project) and over time when updates are submitted.

Translator team building provides the best match
When quality is important, we work with clients to assemble a team of translators with high quality ratings and have a history with similar content (in this case, product marketing content) and meet our quality ratings requirements. Ratings are updated as translators do more work with SpeakLike. Many of the companies we work with choose to have SpeakLike reviewers edit content, while others use SpeakLike’s integrated review tools with their own in-country reviewers.

SpeakLike automated workflow reduces handling to save time and money
Once the original content is loaded, SpeakLike’s automated process kicks in. Jobs are set up in all 11 languages and broken into manageable chunks.  HTML code is packaged, brand names are protected, glossary items are marked, and notifications go out to translators in the special group.

Human Translation is the only way for business communications
Our translators, who have been tested, trained, and rated, log in to their SpeakLike accounts and start working on the marketing content. They have the Style Guide, protected terms, and glossary entries to guide them and, if they need help, can communicate with the SpeakLike team for assistance. With our global community of 1000’s of translators, translation continues on a 24 hour cycle, 7 days per week, every day of the year.

Human monitoring backs up the automation to deliver on time
But knowing there is a deadline, the SpeakLike team monitors the project. Unlike traditional translation firms, we don’t have project managers (except to get new clients started). Instead, we try to stay out of the way and eliminate unnecessary handling that is time consuming and expensive. We do closely monitor our clients’ submissions and translators’ work. We see where a project stands and what’s being worked on right now. Our team keeps things moving. 

Downloaded strings ready to use helps you launch
In this example, the first few languages were completed within 48 hours. Each time a language is completed, our client receives a notification and then logs in to their account to download the CSV file, ready to load into their website.

Ready for updates — only new content gets translated
SpeakLike now becomes an extension of the client’s content management system, storing translated versions in many languages. Any time new content is added to the website or changes are made, the customer can upload the whole website to process only the new or revised content. We don’t re-translate what is already done. The previous translations are returned from SpeakLike’s translation memory, ready to go. When its time for more languages, just log in to and add a language to the project. All of the quality tools are ready to use for updates and new languages. 

Send us an email to set up your free SpeakLike enterprise account and access SpeakLike Strings and the quality management tools:

Social Networking in Any Language

Allowing businesses to create their own content to meet their customers’ demands is essential in today’s world, and social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn have helped companies reach their clientele more directly than ever before.

Recently, the Financial Times reported that Google has moved to broaden the appeal of its social network, Google+, by adding a Pages feature for businesses. Although this feature is only a first step towards making Google+ competitive with deeply entrenched Facebook, it shows how the ongoing drive to connect companies and their customers online is becoming stronger and stronger.

Business are eager to connect with some of Facebook’s 800 million users or the younger Google+’s 40 million, but without localizing content, social marketing misses out on reaching foreign customers. Social networks, like the people in them, are international. Facebook and Google+ are available in well over 40 languages.

SpeakLike provides services in fast, business-quality translation, allowing companies get the most out of social network marketing. Check out our Facebook page, which shows examples of our Twitter translation in action. Coming soon, our Google+ page will be ready

Survey Says: Website Localization Makes the Difference

Common Sense Advisory, a research and consulting firm that provides independent research to help companies profitably grow their businesses across borders, languages and cultures, recently published their December 2010 report, Gaining Global Web Presence. One of the most important sections discussed the relationship between website localization, converting sales, and why, where, and when visitors leave their websites. The data, based on an eight-country survey of more than 2,400 consumers, focused on their preferences for buying in English or in their native language, having products supported in one or the other language, and why they decided to leave websites.

Key Takeaways:

People who buy online need to provide personal details and their payment info. If a site’s data form isn’t formatted for their country, they may encounter problems like including their phone number or postal code. If the structure or function of the site isn’t translated correctly, problems can arise on the back-end, such as finding out the site won’t ship to their country or accept their credit card.

Global online consumers don’t have the accessibility of a store clerk or salesman like they would in a store. Their only means of finding more information about the questions they have is to search your website. A poor website translation will be confusing and hard to deal with, leading those users away from your site and on to another.

“People won’t buy what they can’t understand. And they can’t buy if you haven’t enabled transactions supporting local buying practices and credit cards.” – Don DePalma, Chief Strategy Officer and Founder of Common Sense Advisory.

To read a full summary of the section, “Going from Simple Translation to Successful Transactions on Global Websites,” go ahead and click this link.

Website Localization: Why you should be using SpeakLike

There are many reasons why SpeakLike should be your central translation hub for website localization. Hiring your own translators or working with traditional language service providers produces significant project overhead. You just spend too much time on administrating and micro-managing translations.

Machine translations, on the other hand, are free, and not having to deal with other people or companies can save you from a lot of headaches. So why shouldn’t you take the easy route and let Google do its thing? It sounds great right? Well, not exactly.

To begin with, it’s a known fact that human translation is more accurate and provides a higher quality of translation than machines. As you can see from the examples, machine translations are more literal and done word-by-word, while SpeakLike’s human translators look at the message as a whole, figuring out the meaning of the message before translating it.

A more troubling issue, and one that is less known, is the effects of automated translation tools creating auto-generated content. Because of the poor quality of automatic translations, a website built on translated auto-generated content gives very limited value to users. Sending users to a poorly translated page is not what a search engine wants. And in Google’s case, it’s even against their Webmaster Guidelines.

Here’s a revealing quote from Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller:

“In general, when we determine that a page contains only auto-generated content, we may remove it from our index. If we determine that the largest part of a site consists of auto-generated content (such as when it’s automatically translated and crawled & indexed like that for several languages), then we may opt to remove the whole site from the index. This may sound a bit harsh, but auto-generated content that is created for search engines is a really bad idea and a waste of our resources.”

For all of those reasons and more, SpeakLike stands out as the leader in translation services, promising fast, quality, and effective language translation. Our 6,000-person team of translators are available whenever you need them, letting you decide your schedule. Our 24/7 self-service access to the translation interface eliminates wait times, redundancies, micromanagement, and administrative burdens, allowing employees to maximize their ability to engage in higher value activities. And our suite of products, including an iPhone Photo Translator, a self-service tool for translating websites, software, or app content, and connectors for WordPress, Twitter, and your API, leaves you in good hands with whatever you’re looking to do.