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Considering that 43% of Internet users cannot read English, translating your
web site into a foreign language is a powerful way to promote your business.
But getting your web site translated can be an expensive exercise. Rates
can vary between 0.04 US$ and 0.12 US$ per source word, depending on target
language, length and subject matter being translated.
However, translation is a must if you want to reach foreign Internet users,
who actually make up a larger slice of your target market pie.
The following is a guide on how you can translate your web pages ‘for free’,
or how visitors to your web site can translate your web pages themselves.
1) Finding partners
This is obviously the best solution – the optimum, using a latinism. Using
a human translator guarantees authenticity.
Luckily there are many freelance translators ‘eager’ to find a partner,
especially one who is a web designer. Most translators are aware that
having their own web site can enhance their business success. They will
often accept a plan for the creation or enhancement of their web site in
exchange for the translation of yours.
Before you look for a suitable partner, consider which language you would
like your web site translated into. By far, Spanish is the most widely
spoken language on the Internet. However, if your web site is
science-orientated, then translating into German is probably more effective.
I recommend you choose a freelance translator rather than go through an
agency, as freelance translators are usually less demanding.
To find a partner, browse the following newsgroups:
2) Using online dictionaries
There are several web sites offering online dictionaries. Some of them
allow you to copy their dictionary interface and place it on your web page.
This is a good solution for foreign users who know English, but are not
familiar with specific technical terms.
Adding a link or links to online dictionaries, will make it easier for users
to look up certain terms and then return to your page.
Furthermore, an added feature such as an online dictionary is a great way to
increase traffic to your site. Before adding a dictionary, consider which
languages you wish to cater for. This is important if your web site has a
lot of technical content and users need a quick and easy solution for
looking up difficult terms and concepts.
I have provided a list of web sites below that offer such a service:
3) Using automated translators
In my humble opinion, using an automated translator is the absolute last
resort! An automated translator today cannot accurately or effectively
translate localised meanings, slang and grammar, but is acceptable if you
only want to give your users a general idea of your web page’s content.
Having a link to an automated translation service can also increase traffic
to your web site. Unlike human translators, automated translators have the
capacity to cater for multiple languages. In short, this is an affordable,
The most important developer of automated translators is surely SYSTRAN
S.A. – http://www.systransoft.com
FreeTranslation.com – http://www.freetranslation.com allows you to copy its
automated translator interface and place it on your web page.
Of course it is possible to use a combination of all of the above services –
especially when your web site is large. Have your main pages translated by
a human translator, and minor pages translated or available for translation
by an online dictionary or automated translator service.
It is strategically important that the first page users see is translated
(or a link to a translated version available). This will ensure that
foreign users will feel compelled to stay and browse your entire web site.