Google Translate for Website Translation: Is it Enough?

Easy and free are not always best. When it comes to website translation, should you opt for a professional service or is Google Translate enough?

We’ve all used Google Translate, whether it was to read menu items, communicate in another country, or just out of curiosity. It’s a great tool for everyday language needs. There are many uses for it, but sometimes it’s not the right solution.

When it comes to translating websites or business content Relying solely on Google translations will not always be the best approach. While Google Translate is a convenient machine translation tool, its accuracy remains a liability in 2023-24, particularly when translation quality is critical to business continuity professional and accurate website translations. Below we’re exploring the limitations of Google Translate for website translation and will present alternative options for achieving high-quality multilingual websites.

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How Does Google Translate Work?

Google Translate was launched in 2006 using Phrase-Based Machine Translation (also called Statistical Machine Translation). These first translation systems worked by building statistical models of relationships between words, phrases, and sentences and then applied that model to convert text into a new language.

By 2016, Google Translate upgraded and moved to a Neural Machine Translation (NMT) engine. NMT works by using advanced algorithms called neural networks in addition to artificial intelligence (AI). NMT produces translations for large blocks of text and uses ‘deep learning’. Using simulations based on the brain, scientists can teach machines to translate closer to humans. Neural machine translation learns from mistakes and can correctly translate something on the next try.

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Is Google Translate Accurate?

Google Translate leverages machine learning to translate text between languages. However, its accuracy varies depending on context, language pair, and complexity of content. According to a performance report in 2023, Google Translate’s accuracy has improved over time but still struggles with nuanced language, idiomatic expressions, and industry-specific terminology. This can lead to mistranslations, misinterpretations, and potential damage to a brand’s reputation.

Limitations of Google Translate

Google Translate is highly limited simply because it is a machine translation tool that isn’t managed by any human translation experts or linguists. If you’re looking to use it to take on an entire website translation project, you won’t have any customer support or project management.

This means you need to have someone on your internal team who is an expert in website translation and language. On top of the lack of customer support, Google Translate has its limitations…

Technology Features:

Google Translate is the simplest translation tool, meaning it doesn’t have any frills or features that could help you throughout the translation process. For instance, translation memories and brand adapted NMTs are tools that store past translations and ensure a more customized experience. They save time and money when you have new projects that use a lot of the same terms your brand usually uses.

While you have the option to edit any translation produced by Google, a website translation provider would allow you to review all work and suggest revisions with a LiveEdit tool. The edits would be handled by expert linguists, reducing your workload and stress.

Lack of Context:

Google Translate lacks the ability to understand context fully, leading to incorrect translations that can confuse or misinform users. It relies on frequency of word pairs without grasping nuanced meanings. As we mentioned above, Google used Neural Machine Translation technology, which uses algorithms and AI to produce translated pairs.

But this technology alone doesn’t consider context when producing its outcomes. The alternative to this is a Brand Adaptive NMT. This type of NMT does the same job but can be trained to understand the context of a brand or business and customize the translations in accordance with that.

Cultural Sensitivity:

Successful global websites require translations that consider cultural nuances and sensitivities. Google Translate often fails to capture these subtleties, potentially causing offense or misunderstanding among diverse audiences.

Since the NMT can’t understand context or culture, it may produce translations that have negative connotations without knowing. This is something that could be avoided with a better trained NMT or with expert human review.

Inaccurate Technical Translations:

For websites with technical or specialized content, the accuracy of translation is even more critical. Google Translate may not accurately translate technical jargon, leading to confusion among users. Especially for businesses, Google Translate may not understand certain business lingo or something specific to a certain field.

If you’re selling something that’s very niche, there may not always be a direct translation, for example. This is where you would need more advanced technology or an expert linguist.

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Uses for Google Translate

Google Translate can be notably useful in several situations:

  • Quick Translations: Providing real-time translations for short phrases or sentences when exact precision is not critical, such as casual conversations or understanding the general meaning of a text.
  • Documents or Web Pages: You can easily copy and paste the contents of a document or website, like a blog or business information, for gathering the info you need.
  • Learning a New Language: Assisting language learners with understanding phrases and basic vocabulary in their target language, as well as giving them a general sense of sentence structure and usage.
  • Verbal Communication: Facilitating basic communication and understanding of essential phrases or signs while traveling in a country where one does not speak the local language.

Is Google Translate Good for Website Translation?

While each website has its own ideal level of accuracy and quality, that should be for the business owner to decide. Leaving your website quality to Google Translate may mean you do not get the desired results.

According to a survey by Common Sense Advisory, 72.4% of consumers are more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. The same survey found that 56.2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price.

Translating and localizing a website is intended to show respect for the cultural and linguistic diversity of customers, which can lead to increased trust and brand loyalty. If your potential customers are coming to your site and expecting their preferred languages, and they find poor quality, hard to understand content, not only will they likely leave the site, but they could also lose respect for your brand.

Reputation is important, and if your brand gains the reputation of having an unpolished, inaccurate website, that will be hard to shake. You may have thought that using Google Translate for websites would make your life easier and keep the costs down, but the cost of losing revenue will be far greater.

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Website Translation Options (Better than Google Translate)

There are a number of better options for website translation than Google Translate for websites. There are a range of costs, quality, and technological involvement.

Depending on what works for your business and your internal team, you can customize your website translations. You can translate a website to fit your needs.

Proxy-Based Translation

Website proxy solutions provide accurate translations while maintaining the website’s structure and design. They allow for easy updates and revisions, ensuring consistency across languages.

Web-Based vs. Server Based Proxy

Web-Based Proxy Technology

  • Scope of Traffic: Web-based proxies primarily handle HTTP and HTTPS traffic, allowing users to access web content through a proxy server. They are designed for web browsing purposes and are often used to bypass content restrictions or enhance online privacy.
  • Use Case: Web-based proxies are commonly employed by individuals to access blocked websites or hide their IP addresses for anonymous browsing. They don’t require additional software installation and can be accessed through a web browser.

Server-Based Proxy Technology:

  • Versatility: Server-based proxy technology encompasses a broader range of network traffic types, including HTTP, FTP, SMTP, and more. These proxies can be configured to work with various applications and protocols, not limited to web traffic.
  • Use Case: Server-based proxies are often deployed in enterprise environments to enhance security, manage traffic, and optimize network performance. They serve as intermediaries between clients and servers, providing functions like load balancing, content filtering, and caching. Common examples include reverse proxies and forward proxies.

In summary, web-based proxy technology is primarily focused on web traffic and is user-friendly for accessing blocked content or maintaining online privacy. Server-based proxy technology is more versatile, serving a wider range of network traffic and playing a crucial role in enterprise networks for security and performance optimization.

Proxy translation stands out as a superior choice for website localization compared to Google Translate for websites. It offers contextual accuracy by retaining the original website structure and layout, ensuring translations seamlessly fit into the user experience while maintaining SEO optimization and cultural adaptation.

With real-time updates, the translated version stays consistent with the source content, providing a smoother user experience without disruptive redirects. Additionally, proxy translation’s ability to handle non-web content and its focus on delivering a comprehensive solution tailored to the localization needs of businesses make it a preferred option over Google Translate.

MotionPoint’s MP Core uses server-based proxy translation to detect all your English website’s new content updates and assigns them for translation, it then publishes those human quality translations automatically in the same look and feel as your origin website. This process typically takes about one business day or less.

Adaptive Translation™

Google Translate is an NMT, and as we discussed earlier, Brand Adaptive NMTs are slightly better than a generic NMT. MotionPoint’s Adaptive Translation™ combines algorithmic translation, translation memory, and AI to create a well-rounded translation experience.

As the artificial intelligence component, you have a choice between using generic NMT or Brand Adaptive NMT to fuel your translation memory. Along with Adaptive Translation™, you have the option to include post editing by an expert linguist. Integrating machine translation with human editing strikes a balance between efficiency and quality. Human editors refine machine-generated translations to ensure accuracy and fluency.

MP Lite

If you truly are looking for a low-cost, low-commitment option to translate your website, MP Lite is for you. MP Lite is the “lite” version of the #1 website translation platform in the world. You’re able to integrate MP Lite seamlessly with any website technology and receive a fully translated website fast. With this user-friendly integration, you won’t need to commit any development efforts or install any code.

There are different plan levels to pick from, and you can customize certain options. Plans start at just $99.99 a month. Sign up now for a FREE 14-day trial!

Translation Integrations

Translation APIs and connectors serve as software integrations that facilitate applications to establish programmable connections with translation services. These tools streamline the localization workflow by automating translations across different content platforms. Particularly advantageous for multilingual websites and dynamic applications, they ensure a more efficient and quality-oriented localization process.

This allows businesses to effectively cater to diverse linguistic audiences. The integration of APIs and connectors in translation management systems enhances seamless content translation, contributing to a better user experience.

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The Best Website Translation Solutions

While Google Translate offers a quick and easy solution for basic translation needs, its limitations make the wrong choice for website translation. To truly connect with multilingual audiences and uphold brand reputation, investing in concierge-level website translation and localization is essential.

The MotionPoint Platform is the best website translation service on the market. If you’re looking for something like Google Translate, but you don’t want to sacrifice quality or accuracy, there are a number of options for you to choose from that can save you money.

Get high-quality translations along with a Beyond Words Service from the leaders in translation technology. Drop us a line today to learn more.

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Take a Deeper Dive

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