An Internet Business Epidemic: Neglect of Proper Website Translation

Studies have made it an undeniable fact that consumers are much more likely to purchase from websites in their native language. If e-commerce and business enterprises continue to ignore the importance of accurate, quality website translation and localization, they will continue to pass up increased revenues and optimization of consumer base.

Despite ever-expanding translation service technology and industry providers, business enterprises are still reluctant to utilize the plethora of available translation and localization services, according to Forrester Research. While many are reluctant to employ professional language translation providers, or other LSP provisions, they are, it seems, inquiring about it regularly. So why all the buzz about language services if so few are utilizing the industry’s full potential?

Why Doesn’t Every Business and E-commerce Site Have Professional Translation?

One of the reasons may be due to Google’s new updates. Since March of this year, the Google Panda updates have changed search engine results to place much more importance upon original, useful content. Valuable content is now what drives much of website SERP, since the Panda I and II updates. Because large company sites, e-commerce and industry leader websites usually have hundreds of pages of content, in addition to a steady flow of updated content, even if a tiny portion of this content was consistently translated for multilingual audiences, it would require a tremendous amount of translator manpower and staffing. Hence, the development of plug-ins, language service tools, APIs, and auotmated website translation uploads by many large LSP companies. But c’mon – we all know by now that automated translation and translation APIs are worth absolutely no more than having no website translation at all. No business or e-commerce site is going to close any sales using Google Translate.

Despite the reasons or the drawbacks of incorporating consistent web content translation and localization, what better way to draw a bigger audience, thicken traffic, build links, and establish higher search engine ranking and industry authority – than by harnessing the benefits of professional translation of any given company website that has something to sell – especially where economies of a young populous are thriving: BRIC. That is, Brazil, Russia, India and China – the top four economies driving global sales, web traffic and influence. The lesser group, whose acronym is CIVET, refers to Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt and Turkey, who are also considerable sources of economical influence. So in part, this answers the question as to where any enterprise should focus its global marketing and expansion. But if online translation services and technology aren’t being adopted into common use – then how are these groups being reached?

They aren’t. At least not through online or web content translation efforts, despite the fact that thousands of language translation agencies who provide any number of services in, Chinese translation, Portuguese translation, Turkish translation, or any other major language – are not hard to find or outsource. However, few of even actively expanding businesses are rushing to add them to their websites for added commercial strength. Why the hesitancy, at large? A few stigmas still apparently exist when it concerns LSP, whether human or not.

Fallacies About Professional Translation Services and Website Translation

It’s not secure enough.

Regardless of the NDA agreements signed by many a when they are given sensitive corporate content to translate, it doesn’t seem to be enough to make many global companies feel secure about letting their closely guarded information outside of their safety zones. The idea of some unknown translator holding millions of dollars worth of contracts, expansion plans, or even valuable research not yet released- doesn’t settle well with a lot of company executive heads.

It’s not good enough.

There is a Russian saying, “С лицами воды не пить” – which, as an English equivalent, means “good looks aren’t everything,” but a more literal translation is “you don’t drink water with your face.” However, SDL’s machine translation tool renders it as “with faces not to drink waters” and even Google Translate renders it as “with persons to not drink water.” Obviously automated translations provide a convoluted translation at best, when used from a website API or plug-in. Perhaps its the common use of, and common incompetence of automated translation tools and plug-ins – that have these companies convinced that they can not employ human professional translation services without a lot of the same problems – which, despite what research shows, is a very strange assumption to make. Obviously there are just some things that computers can’t yet do better than people.

It’s also a plausible reason that one or two poor translations have soured perspectives, or that many businesses and company heads simply do not trust that translation agencies and language service providers will deliver professional results. After all, there is no real way to verify the quality of a translation by those who employ language services, without additional or secondary translation proofreading services. Many translation companies, including Tomedes, offer translation proofreading services, and at rates significantly lower than a full translation or localization.

It’s too expensive.

Regardless of the many independent and/or smaller translation companies out there (ahem, such as Tomedes) who offer extremely low translation rates, companies still believe they’ll pay 30 cents or more per word. Most companies restrict human translation to only extremely high value content, and even then, only in English to French and . So, the stigma of human translation services being much to expensive persists, unfortunately – at least enough not to employ on a regular or consistent basis.

It’s not fast enough.

Forrester did not cite this as a reason, but this is a frequent and common reason behind resistance or apprehension to use of professional translation services. Business websites often want translation to be available on demand (such as with browser applications) or they want entire website translation on demand and instantaneously – like automated ”tools,” or, at the very least, delivered within an hour at most – the latter of which is often feasible. Both large LSP corporations and independent translation agencies like Tomedes Translation Service, make it a point to emphasize urgent or rush-order services.

It won’t be able to handle the level of technical knowledge and terminology required

One of the biggest demands from translation companies and agencies is industry-specific translations. Some of the most common types of translation are those that are highly technical, and require a certain kind of experience, knowledge and skill. True: A run-of-the-mill, general translator could not aptly translate a mechanical engineering report on design and tolerance grades for a new cylinderical grinding machine. One of the chief major concerns of many new clients who hire professional translation services for the first time, is that their translators will be under-educated or lack the skills, knowledge and experience to handle highly technical language and industry jargon. Yet what they do not know is that at least half of all translators specialize in specific industry translation and localization, in addition to the fact that translators have research tools and resources just like any other professional that uses reference and research materials.

It’s too confusing to know where to begin or where to get it from

As lame as this excuse sounds, according to Common Sense Advisory, 46% of survey respondents who’d never used professional translation services said they simply don’t know where to start. I am not sure how to go about correcting such a simple-minded fallacy except to say, well, gee, why not start with a Google search..? Just a thought. After that, check some industry review sites, search for specific translation services and compare rates (almost all online translation companies offer free instant quotes) ask your social network, check out companies on LinkedIn, and read some LSP blogs. It’s really not that scary, people.

What Companies and Brands are Passing Up Without Professional Website Translation

While studies have shown that global enterprises are still hesitant to utilize the developments and services within the language service industry, consumer studies have shown again and again that language is important to conversion rates. Figures from numerous studies on this range anywhere from 63% to 75%, for consumers who agree that they are much more likely to purchase a product or service from a website offered in their language, and over 70% said they frequently encounter e-commerce sites not available in their native language.

Studies and surveys performed by large language service enterprises such as SDL and TransPerfect have found an important dichotomy between consumer and brand/company perspectives and responses about website translation and localization. In general, brands and companies seem to believe that any level or quality of translation will do, including attached language APIs or plug-ins like Google Translate, or browser-based website translation. However, consumers have made it clear that both professional translation and localization, and other cultural accuracies, have a direct impact upon purchasing decisions. Whether websites are translated without regard to localization or cultural considerations, or simply left up to the consumer to translate website content, most consumers get frustrated and terminate the shopping process.

For truly optimized online and/or website conversion rates, companies and brands must employ professional language translation and localization services. As long as business and corporate websites continue to downplay the importance of accurate, human website translation and localization services, they will continue to pass up a huge opportunity to optimize their consumer base, conversion rates and annual revenues.

sources used: Forrester Research, Common Sense Advisory,