When tackling the task of translating a website, often those in charge of such a project only think about the translation side of things and immediately set their search on finding a translation agency.
A translation agency will, of course, help you with translating the words on your website and your marketing materials amongst other things and it can be crucial to partner with a great agency that understands your industry and business to give you the highest quality of translation. One key part agencies won’t take care of, however, is how you’ll actually implement and display those translations back onto your website.
That’s exactly where translation software comes into play, and in fact, it can also help you with numerous other translation management aspects that will make your website translation project seamless.
So, within this guide, we’ll take a look at the role of a website translation software, how it helps your workflow, deals with multilingual SEO and why it can be perfectly paired with a translation agency.
To explain the different processes of what makes up a website translation project, let’s first talk about what aspects a translation agency actually takes care of.
A translation agency is there to take care of translating the content of your website. Whilst it’s the most accurate way of translating the content of your website, it doesn’t actually take care of how that content will be displayed, which is ultimately the second big part of a website translation project.
When you hire a translation agency you will usually have a dedicated project manager to work with you. Generally, an agency can take your translated content in any format you give them, however, they often prefer to receive it in CSV/ XLIFF format as many translation agencies use their own CAT tools (computer-assisted translation is the use of computer systems to assist translators to edit, manage and store translations) to manage the translation process.
Bear in mind, you’ll be responsible for collating all the content of your website to give to the translation agency, you cannot simply give them the URL of your site.
As we mentioned above, the first limitation of solely using a translation agency is that they are in no way responsible for taking that content and displaying it on your website.
The possibly obvious choice at this point (before considering a website translation software) would be to create separate websites for the new languages you want.
This might work out if you have a very small website and you only want 1 additional language version, but even then managing multiple websites is hugely time-consuming and you’ll also need your IT/ development team on hand to help display the content for you.
This can be problematic for many companies because most websites require regular content updates or new landing pages etc that will require a lot of time from your IT/ development team to implement such changes.
In particular, this process will become impossible to manage if you do have a large website requiring upwards of 2 new languages.
One of the other issues with the multiple website method is that it’s difficult to manage your translations within your CMS.
Because you’ll have duplicated your website, you’ll be managing and adding your translations to separate CMS dashboards, rather than one central place with an overview of all your website’s translations.
This is a time-consuming process and often leads to certain pages of your website being left untranslated in your new languages as the management side of the process becomes a challenge.
“We had both an English website and a simplified Spanish version – however as we started creating more content, adding more services, the task of updating and translating each website became impossible for us.”Gustavo Paniagua – Head of Marketing at Slidebean
We’ve mentioned the word time-consuming several times already, but because using a translation agency only takes care of the translation, there’s a lot of groundwork to prepare for a translation project.
As we briefly discussed earlier, you will be responsible for pulling all the content from your website into some kind of format that your translation agency can use to translate from.
It can take a lot of time to do this as you’ll need to go through the whole of your website, including any hidden landing pages, forms, menu items and if you have an ecommerce site, all your product pages, etc.
Also, consider the content that isn’t necessarily visible on your site such as metadata which helps grow your organic traffic, you’ll want to make sure this is translated too.
You’ll also want to pull together a glossary of terms for your translator, such as specific words/ products/ brand names that should or shouldn’t be translated. This also links to creating a style guide (which you may already have) that gives some sense of direction to the translation agency, e.g. is your website formal/ informal.
When it comes to the time it takes for a translator to send back your translation files, this can be relatively quick depending on the volume and the size of the translation agency. Once your files have been translated, a translation agency will usually also proof those texts in context.
On average, you can expect a file of around 2000 words to be delivered and proofread within 5-7 working days, you can of course pay extra for a faster turnaround time. And the time frame may be adjusted depending on the language pair as a more complex language pair may require additional proofreading.
This is a big one because using a translation agency and getting that accuracy costs money. It’s one of the main reasons why so many companies put off going multilingual as the average price per word is $0.08-$0.25.
You can quickly see how the cost of a website translation project shoots up when you’re looking at a website with around 10,000 words. Or for those with an ecommerce website, it can be particularly word-heavy if you have thousands of product pages to translate.
Understand the real cost of website translation with our free website translation cost calculator.
When using a translation agency you will usually work with a project manager from within the translation agency that will follow your project, however, a substantial amount of the work will need to be done from your side too, to ensure the translation project runs smoothly.
This can be in terms of gathering information and content from various team members, working out an internal approvals process, dealing with the IT/ developer team to implement the translations, and so on.
Naturally, that is also true of a translation software, there will always need to be someone from within your organization managing the project, the workload is however substantially reduced due to automation.
So, how does a website translation software alleviate the pain points mentioned above, let’s take a look in closer detail.
One of the biggest challenges of website translation is not how to translate the words, but how to actually display the content of your site.
As you will have read above, it’s not easy to handle and manage if you choose to create multiple websites. However, that’s where a translation software like Weglot comes into play.
The problem of managing multiple websites is completely eradicated because Weglot displays the content of your website under language-specific subdomains or subdirectories (depending on your CMS).
This means all your translated web content lives together under 1 URL and a front-end language switcher is added by Weglot to allow your website visitors to switch between their language of choice.
Not only does this make things simple for your website visitors – they can see the language options and choose their preferred language – it also means from a website management point of view you are only ever handling 1 website and making edits within 1 CMS dashboard.
In simple terms, Weglot has “duplicated” your website into as many languages as you require, but allowed you to handle them from 1 translation management interface, your Weglot Dashboard. The translations can only be managed here, so you only need to be concerned with managing the content of your original website within your CMS.
Weglot also adds hreflang tags to the source code of your website to ensure Google understands these are different language versions of your website and to whom to display these web pages to.
Another automated area is the issue of ensuring all the content of your website is translated.
Within minutes, Weglot scans your entire website (including metadata, URL slugs, 3rd party plugins/ apps) and instantly translates it using a first layer of machine translation (later we’ll explain how to manage those translations).
This means it’s guaranteed that 100% of your website is detected and translated, even dynamic content. That saves a huge amount of time as you won’t need to worry about doing your own internal content audit and putting the content into the correct format for your translation agency.
The same goes for editing and uploading new content to your website.
Without a translation software, this process would again be handled manually by your IT/ developer team. However, a translation software automatically detects any new original content and translates and displays it instantly.
This is a lifesaver for any website translation project as it means you won’t end up with different content on different language websites. Any content changes made to your original website will be automatically replicated on your language versions too.
You can, however, always exclude certain pages from being translated if you don’t wish all the content of your original website to be translated.
Let’s take a look again at the first layer of machine translation you get with website translation software, Weglot. Many Weglot users choose to only display machine translation on their website (for some language pairs it’s considered highly accurate), others choose to manually edit the whole of their website and most users in fact do a combination.
What translation quality you choose to display on your website is entirely a brand decision.
Weglot simply facilitates machine, post-editing, or the option to add professional translators to your project so you can really set your own quality or even decide to use professional translation only on certain pages and leave others unedited.
The benefit of working from a first layer of machine translation is that essentially, that’s how many translation agencies actually work too to save time and money on a translation project as big as a website.
Handling all your translations under one dashboard means you can have a complete overview of your translation project.
With Weglot, your translations are handled outside of your CMS allowing you to effortlessly handle your translations in one place, no matter how many languages you’ve added to your website.
As we mentioned above, you can easily add a translation agency to your website translation project within your Weglot Dashboard so they can help review translations to meet your brand objectives.
Traditionally, using a translation agency means your glossary is generally in an excel format. When you use a translation software your glossary is managed within your translations dashboard.
You can add glossary terms, add teammates to add their own departmental glossary terms, make rules to never/ always translate a particular word and even then you can export and import it if you prefer keeping such a file.
As an alternative to editing your translations within your Weglot Dashboard, many Weglot users make use of the export/ import feature which allows you to export your translations in a CSV or CLIFF format.
This is useful if you’re going to work with a translation agency. You then just need to import the file back into your Weglot Dashboard and all your translations will be marked as ‘Manually approved’.
Within Weglot you can manage your translations in two different views. The first view displays your translations side-by-side with the original text, allowing whoever is editing the text to see both versions.
Or, the second option allows you to edit your translations in a live preview of your website with Weglot’s visual editor. This gives those editing the translations the full context and allows for increased accuracy.
Simply click on the blue pencil icon and make your edit directly inside the box. From here you can also switch between the different language versions. Once you’ve clicked ‘OK’ the edited translation is automatically updated on your website.
Another point on the list that you probably haven’t considered with a website translation project is how you’ll actually be found by your new markets.
Having a translated website is one thing as it improves the user experience of your website visitors, however without certain SEO features on your website, you won’t actually appear in search results for your target languages.
“Weglot is now directly responsible for increasing our total visitors by 40%.”Jules Boven, Tech Lead, TheSocialMedwork
Weglot adds hreflang tags to your source code (that help search engines understand who to show the page to), gives you language-specific subdomains/ subdirectories and also translates your metadata which is a crucial part of your SEO.
These are technical elements that can usually only be done by a developer.
Now that you understand the differences between using a translation agency and a website software it’s time to look at how in fact, you could use both of them together! They can be very complimentary for those that would like a large part of their website reviewed by a professional.
Undoubtedly, using professional translators will give you the highest form of accuracy. They are highly skilled to be able to adjust the tone, add in cultural references and localize your content so it fits seamlessly into your localization strategy.
Machine translation can do the groundwork, but a translator will be able to really give your text a personal touch.
Perhaps one of the most important points is that a translation software will ultimately take care of how your translations are displayed. This is simply something a translation agency will never be able to help you with.
One of the pain points we initially discussed is that you’d be responsible for collating all the content you want to be translated, which for a large website project can be very tedious.
Weglot removes this part of the process and all you’ll need to do is either export all your translations to give to your translation agency or add translators to your dashboard to make the edits within the Weglot interface.
One of the best parts of using a website translation software is that you can essentially launch in new markets instantly.
Because Weglot gives you a first layer of machine translation you can go straight to market with an initially machine-translated website and then as and when your budget allows, send important pages to be reviewed by a translation agency. This ultimately keeps the cost of your website translation project down.
“Our translation team benefited from Weglot’s first layer of neural machine translation, and was able to modify and publish the content faster than with a traditional translation method.”Albert Baqués, Marketing Manager FELT Bicycles Europe
Many Weglot users choose this approach because it also gives you a chance to see what pages are most visited in your newly added languages and allows you to prioritize the content that you want professionally reviewed.
This method means you can have a fully proofread and translated website in weeks, not months.
In addition, Weglot facilitates entry to new markets with robust website localization capabilities. For example, with Weglot, you can replace images on your translated website versions to create a sense of familiarity, so you can instantly connect with your international audience.
Or you can use your target country’s flag to represent a certain language and enhance your localization efforts further.
This is where working only with a translation agency to translate your website comes in short because website translation is more comprehensive than just text. Only by localizing the entirety of your website — including explanatory images, page layout, design, and media elements — you can ensure success in foreign markets.
Overall, handling your translations with Weglot means everything is managed centrally. With Weglot you get access to your own translations dashboard where you can make modifications to your translation project, such as:
Slidebean, an alternative to PowerPoint, had an ambitious expansion strategy that went beyond the English-speaking market.
To target the Spanish-speaking market, they initially tried to create a Spanish version of their website manually, however, they were only able to manage and implement a smaller, more simplified version.
They didn’t have the internal resources to manage and update both. They regularly updated their original site, but couldn’t commit enough time to do the same of their Spanish version. This ultimately held them back from reaching out to new audiences in their target markets.
This issue led them to search for alternatives which is how they came across Weglot – no multiple sites to manage, automatic content detection when adding new content and a way to display the translations without needing their development team.
They quickly saw almost a 200% increase in Spanish-speaking visitors, with an overall conversion rate increase of 30%.
Read the full Slidebean case study
Within this guide, we’ve taken a look at what a translation agency takes care of, how a website translation software works, and ultimately how they can both work together in a complementary fashion.
One of the biggest headaches companies have is how they will actually display their translated content, keep updating the translated versions of their website and launch in markets quickly.
Website translation software Weglot helps with the most problematic areas of website translation. Even better, Weglot can also take care of translating your content so all you need to worry about is how many of those machine-translated pages you want a translation agency to work on.
See how Weglot can enhance your website translation project with our 10-day free trial.