Imagine someone coming to your site and leaving it the very next moment, not because the content was bad but because the site content was not written in his native language. It is a perfect case of a missed opportunity.
Statistics show that the web has just 60% English speaking users. The rest may be from Russia, Japan, the Middle East or other regions, where people are either less comfortable reading English content or can’t read and interpret the language at all.
By confining your website to English (or for that matter, just one language), you are missing a large group of people (or site traffic), who could have become potential customers or regular visitors if the website’s content had been written in their native language.
Most of the machine translation services like Google Translate, Altavista, Yahoo Babelfish, Lycos are powered by Systran software. So you can choose to incorporate either of these services and the results are pretty much the same in all cases.
Too see how this kind of translation works, type labnol.blogspot.com and click the country flags on the top. Say you click the page of Russia, the site would be translated from English to Russian using Google Translate.
If you are a small company who has little or no budget for translation, machine translation is the best option for you. Large companies with bigger budgets and international clients, hire professional translators to write their website content in different languages. There are a lot of translation companies on the internet, like World Lingo and Systran, that can do professional translation of your websites. With machine translation, you have little control over the grammar of the translated text, while in manual translation, the text is always grammatically correct.
Machine translation is limited just to a few languages like French, German, Chinese, etc but you can easily find a human translator for languages like Hindi, Farsi, Telugu, Arabic or even Sanskrit.
There’s also another option - where you download the translation software on your computer, translate content offline and publish the translated version of the pages on your site. This approach saves your visitor from requesting another site to do the translation. It looks slightly more appealing and professional, as the translated content is displayed using the same look n’ feel of your existing website. Systran, Babylon and WordWeb are popular softwares in this category.
You would notice that a lot of popular blogs and websites have a replica of their English websites in French, Russian, Spanish and other languages, to expand their subscriber base and readership levels.
There are basically two ways to add translation to your website: either you do it manually or let software do the job for you. We’ll discuss both the approaches here, weighing the pros and cons of each style.
Let’s look at the software option first. The translation software is hosted on the third party website and a visitor to your website sends a request to that site, to translate the page for him. The translation is done in real time.