The internet has taken human culture and pushed it into one big, coexisting melting pot. Though despite the amazing ability to access cultures from all over the world, language barriers are still a problem.
It’s really no surprise that language gets in our way. There are 7,097 distinct languages spoken across the world. Yes, some of those languages are regional dialects and some others are dying languages spoken by only a few people. Though even if we’re counting the predominant languages across major American, European, and Asian countries, humans speak into the double digits of languages.
Bridging these language barriers is essential if want to capitalise on as much traffic as possible. It doesn’t matter how you’re utilising the internet; ecommerce, news websites, blogs, auction houses, personal web pages, and more all need multi-language solutions. If you want to turn a profit, you need to reach as many consumers as possible.
So the question is, how do you translate your website? Enter the world of language tools. Language tools come in all shapes and sizes, all focused on translating your website. Some rely on machine learning while others rely on humans.
Some people try to ignore language tools and translate their own web pages, only to find out that professional translation services exist for a very real reason. Today, we want to help you avoid that mistake.
Here are the nine 9 best language tools to help publish multilingual websites.
Language translation tools fall into three categories: human translation, machine translation, and mixed translation. Human translation is the slowest and also the most expensive. Machine translation is the cheapest though the least accurate. Mixed translation is machine learning with human oversight, and so falls somewhere in the middle in terms of pricing and accuracy.
Human translation comes in a variety of forms. Some tools have staff that translate everything from videos to web pages. These translation experts do great work but represent the most expensive option.
Tools also offer crowdsourced human translation. Crowdsourcing saves on the price but usually takes longer and is less accurate than relying on a translation staff.
Machine learning uses computer algorithms to interpret and translate your text. Google Translate is by far the most famous type of machine learning. Machine learning has come a long way since early Google Translate. Most tools can accurately translate fairly complex sentences. However, context and colloquialisms usually trip up the machine learning.
Mixed translation allows machines to do the heavy lifting while humans edit for context. Depending on how much editing each translation needs, sometimes it’s cheaper to just hire a team of humans to begin with.
The best language tools translate more than just the words on your web pages. Search engine optimisation is crucial to turning a profit. If consumers can’t find your website you won’t make any money.
Your translations need to apply to your SEO to return high in the SERPs of different countries. HTML especially, is easily forgotten, as are subdomain names. The best tools allow you to translate HTML, domains, content, and more.
Some of the simpler tools are even accessible enough to allow webmasters to apply their own translations to H1 tags and other elements that commonly use short phrases.
When it comes to SEO it helps to think of each translation as a different website. Yes, you’re hosting the same content but Google thinks of different subdomains as different websites. Each subdomain (and each different language) will rank separately on the SERPs.
Let’s get Google Translate out of the way, right now. The platform, rightly so, gets a bad reputation. The translations are rough as a consequence of Google’s machine translation. Native speakers can almost always tell if you’re using Google Translate.
However, that doesn’t mean the platform is useless. Google Translate is much cheaper than hiring a professional translation service. In certain applications, Google Translate is a viable option.
For instance, strong SEO relies on HTML signals. You need strong tags that fit with your keyword profile. Google Translate is accurate enough to translate headers and other HTML.
Though you won’t want to rely on Google Translate for much more than simple HTML tags. Instead, you’ll want to check out these language tools.
Localize is an all-in-one translation platform. They specialise in translating websites on an as-needed basis. The tool doesn’t translate entire websites at once but instead uses translation tools to translate web elements. Email, notification, and SMS message translation is also supported.
The program accessibility surrounds a “translation dashboard” where you can upload CSV, XML, YAML, and other file formats. Translation is available in more than 80 languages.
Other features include:
Smartling is also an all-in-one translation platform, though the platform can translate many more types of content than Localize. Smartling can translate digital content, websites, documents, mobile applications, customer support content, marketing content, video, audio, and more. Translation happens within the platform’s translation management system as well as individual translation services.
Smartling is best used as a translation network. The program makes it easy to translate content across your entire organisation. You’ll see translated content in real-time as you’re working through custom workflows.
Smartling also includes:
The content crawling automation, in particular, has the potential to save enormous amounts of time.
Bablic is far less feature-rich than our previous two tools. The platform strikes a balance between Google’s simplicity and Localize’s tool-based approach. The translation quality is better than Google but the feature set isn’t as developed.
Using Bablic is extremely straightforward. Simply log into the platform, type in your website’s URL, choose a language, choose a translation type, and let the program start translating.
For more advanced translations you’re able to set the translation options to manually editable translations. Both machine translation and human translation are available.
As a bonus, Bablic offers a visualiser element that shows how your translated page would look on computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Transifex is another translation platform that aims to become your all-in-one tool. Similar to Localize and Smartling, Transifex offers a set of tools focused on supporting file formats for a la cart translation. The platform focuses on creating an easy way to translate individual pieces of content.
The detailed features include:
POEEditor is an easy to use, straightforward version of an all-in-one translation tool. Though lacking some of the above features, this tool prioritises simplicity above all else. The tool supports translation of 15 file formats.
Other features include:
POEditor makes an excellent choice if you’re looking for a tool that isn’t overly complex while still retaining the basic all-in-one features.
Polyang integrates with WordPress, a popular website builder. It’s our first tool that isn’t built as a stand-alone platform, but rather a lightweight plugin that’s aimed at translating your content within the WordPress ecosystem.
The plugin takes your WordPress content, everything from your website to your back-end, and translates it to a language of your choosing. You translate your website into as many different languages as you need and manage those languages as subdomains or different domains altogether.
Polyang will auto-detect which language to display or you can offer language translation links on your website. If you choose to outsource, the plugin also features integration with professional translation services.
Best of all, Polyang is free. Though do know that customer support is limited.
GTranslate is Google Translate living within your WordPress website. Like Google’s standalone translation program, GTranslate suffers from “stiff” translations that don’t read like a native speaker.
However, GTranslate excels at translating limited amounts of information into 103 languages. Like with Google Translate you’ll want to use GTranslate to improve your SEO, namely your HTML. Though for an additional fee the plugin does come with multilingual SEO support.
Google Analytics support is included in the free version.
WPML is the professional alternative to Polyang. This WordPress plugin can convert each of your posts, pages, and custom posts into a variety of languages. The translation happens first on your end. You’ll set the plugin to support a number of languages. Then, the plugin auto-detects the visitor’s browser language and displays the proper page.
Unlike Polyang, WPML isn’t free. Pricing plans start at €29 for the basic plan and increase as you buy access to more features. For the price, WPML offers a comprehensive customer support package that includes online documentation as well as access to a support team.
Your website could have the strongest SEO around, the best language tools, the wittiest content, and still fall short. Why? Because a website is only as good as the infrastructure it’s built around.
Web hosting can make or break your website. A bad host will ensure you’re seeing lots of downtime, slow page speeds (which hurt your SEO), and no room to grow. Plus, you’ll probably end up paying far too much for a service that offers you far too little.
In fact, most people don’t know the first thing about web hosting. They just latch onto the easiest host (Amazon, anyone?) and go with them because it’s easier than shopping around, and the bigger the host the better, right?
To the contrary, smaller web hosts can offer the same scaling as their larger competitors at similar prices. Plus, smaller hosts offer better hands-on customer support.
Customer support and unique solutions are the real sticking point. Most don’t realise how many times you’ll end up calling the support number. It’s not always easy to get your site to play nice with your web host.
Unique web solutions are also extremely important. With the large companies, you get what they offer. They’re doing so much volume that catering to your needs isn’t worth the time.
However, smaller web hosts can help you build a plan that’s better for your web site. We can help you scale when you need to scale, save when you need to save, and offer your consumers the very best web experience.
So if you’re thinking of switching to a smaller, friendly web host, or need to get set up with your very first host, contact us today. Our experts can help you get started reaping the benefits of a smaller web host.
Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us as soon as possible.