Multilingual websites connect to a broader audience by speaking to customers in their own language, making engagement (and sales) that much easier. But if you’ve been tempted to use the Google Translate tool on your site

Can’t I just use Google Translate?

Google Translate provides a quick and free option, but if you want your website to truly seem local, you need a human togoogle-translate-logouch. Free tools can’t capture the rhetoric, beauty, idioms and nuances of the local language; the risk of missing out on engaging with your customers can be costly. Clunky sentences and grammatical errors aren’t likely to sway visitors into becoming customers.

Google doesn’t even use its own free online translation tool to translate its corporate content: it relies on professional human translation, which rather captures the ‘emotional’ aspect of language.

Human vs. Machine

We compared an online text which has a French equivalent translation on the same website. We then compared it to the resulting Google Translate outcome.

A major setback that many website owners are unaware of when using Google Translate is that there is no SEO benefit from it.

SEO concerns?

Only your English content will be indexed by search engines, not the translated content. What’s more, using automated translation tools could be seen as creating auto-generated content, which would be against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines using automated translation tools to directly create content for your site could be seen as creating auto-generated content, which would be against our Webmaster Guidelines. and may  result in your whole site being removed from their index.

OK, so maybe I need a translation solution, what’s the best way?

We often forget to think beyond the content on our customer-facing webpages. But there’s so much stuff in the background like meta descriptions, keywords, pop-ups, call-to-action buttons, error messages and images to name but a few, that making sure nothing is missed is nearly impossible without a good tool.

At LAT, we use WPML (WordPress Multilingual) for our multilingual site. This plugin allows us to easily select and send web content for translation. This is the process that we also recommend for our clients who want to localize their website.

Why WPML?

  • WPML is compatible with the Yoast SEO plugin, making it easy to optimize your multilingual site for search engines.
  • WPML provides online support, whereas a lot of other plugins do not.
  • It’s always being updated.
  • Almost all major WordPress themes support WPML. Here’s a list of compatible themes.
  • With WPML, you can also create right-to-left sites (to display languages like Hebrew or Arabic).

How does it work?

WPML doesn’t translate your content: it gives you the capability to create multilingual versions of your WordPress site by allowing you to send your content to professional translators.

First, make sure your site is compatible (by checking compatible themes).

The WPML installation gives you three essential plugins. With these installed, you can connect your WordPress site to LAT Multilingual. Here’s a great how-to guide on linking WPML and LAT.

You can now start sending content through WPML’s Translation Dashboard. When translations are complete, they appear back in your site ready for publishing.

wpml layout