November 2016

Say hello to Google's Neural Machine Translation

 by anthony on  |
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Just two months ago, Google announced the introduction of Neural Machine Translation to their Google Translate service. This is great news for businesses that need to translate their website, or those on a tight translation budget. But what exactly is “Neural Machine Translation” and what does it mean for professional translators? What is Neural Machine Translation? Neural Machine Translation (NMT) is an approach that optimizes the benefits of machine translation, by using a large neural network. At its most basic level, NMT focuses on translating whole sentences instead of taking text on a word-for-word basis. It uses the wider context from these whole sentences to determine what the best translation outcome should look like. On top of this, the neural network relies on a learning system that allows it to actually get better over time. This will undoubtedly mean NMT becomes even more widely-used in the future, with regular machine translation phasing out. Why is NMT better than regular machine translation? Regular machine translation looks at each individual word in a block of text, with no regard for the overall structure of a sentence or how it reads. Often, regular machine translations result in clunky and nonsensical text that has little or no application in the real world. Machine-translating a blog, for instance, would end in a drastic quality reduction of the blog content. On the other hand, NMT has the ability to retain the context and tone of voice that a normal machine translation loses. Its unique learning technology gives a more human-like understanding of words and sentences, resulting in a higher quality translation. You can expect NMT to deliver more fluid, fluent and accurate translations that present something closer to what a professional translator can do. In the picture below from Google, you can see there’s quite a difference in the tone of voice and quality between the regular machine translation and the NMT.   How many languages are available? To start, Google have made NMT available for eight different language pairs. These range from English and French, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Turkish and German. Using only these eight languages, about one third of the world’s population can avail of NMT. Google also mention that these languages cover more than 35% of the world’s Google Translate queries. The platform has 103 languages in total, and the plan is to integrate all of these with NMT over the next few years. Google are also granting access to NMT via their Google Cloud Platform, so developers can use the technology within their own applications. With NMT, the company claims that Google Translate progressed more in a single year that it has in the last ten years combined. To help NMT grow, Google has revealed its continued reliance on the Translate Community. Here, multilingual speakers can review translations or contribute their own translations to the community. What does this mean for professional translators? Does this mean the end for professional translators? Absolutely not. As mentioned, NMT is a learning system. This means that, for a while at least, translations won’t be on par with that of a professional translator. Yes, it will learn over time to deliver similar quality, but there are some areas that it can’t compete in. Professional translators that have expertise in certain cultures or industries will always have the advantage. They can include colloquialisms, inside knowledge and revert the tone to match different audiences within that language remit. NMT will express translations in a clear and concise way, but it can only translate whatever information it is given. Professional translators can tweak content and information to match the needs of every target audience. Final word NMT is a fantastic advancement in machine translation technology and it will only get better over time. As it stands, NMT is a cost-effective way to translate your website, safe in the knowledge that your content will retain most of its original quality. However, it’s still in the early stages and there will most likely be some bumps in the road. Professional translation is the only sure-fire way to translate your website and provide a truly local experience for your customers. There's simply no substitute for the expert knowledge a professional translator can give across cultures and topics. With a network of over 18,000 professional translators, we can vouch for their continued relevance in today's technologically-advanced world.  

4 website localization mistakes to avoid

 by anthony on  |
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Going global is an exciting time for any business. It’s a time of growth, evolution and change. It’s also usually a sign that a business is doing well and has the capacity to expand to new markets. In the digital age, a localized website is vital to the success of any global business.   But it’s easy to overlook vital details when embarking on a localization effort. Data is misinterpreted or important areas disregarded, opening the door for poor results. Below are some of the biggest mistakes businesses make when localizing their website.   1. Not asking the right questions An increase in traffic from a country doesn’t always mean that you should localize to target that country. Yes, it is a sign of potential interest in your product. But there are other questions to address before making a decision, such as:   Are there any legal implications of selling your product in that country? Do you have the capacity to handle customer service? (E.g. speaking the language, availability during time differences etc.) Is your product needed in the target market? How many competitors are in the market? Can you be competitive and profitable in that market? Is your product currently localized for new markets? (Language, packaging etc.) 2. Using a machine translation Localizing your website means making it look native to every user. A machine translation will result in low quality content that isn’t SEO friendly. It will also look unprofessional, littered with grammatical inconsistencies and confusing sentence structure. A professional translation retains the tone of voice and context of your original content. That said, you can still use a machine translation on some of the less important content on your site. But anything that needs to make absolute sense, such as a blog, will need a professional translation. It’s more expensive in the short term, but retaining the quality of your content will improve your SEO friendliness in your new language. It will also reduce errors and lower the risk of losing out on potential customers. 3. Only focusing on localizing written content A localized website will change its images, colors and meta tags to match that of the target market. Written content is important, but the visual aspect of a website can make or break a customer’s purchasing decision. Localized written content is essential, but substantiate its effect with a look and feel that the visitor is familiar with. This sense of familiarity will create trust, leading to increased traffic and conversions over time. 4. Poor promotional efforts Oftentimes, businesses make the mistake of using the same promotional methods in their new market as they did in the old one. The problem with this is that no two markets react the same, so change your methods to suit the market. This includes things like target audience, medium and message. A good example of this is social media promotion. Facebook is the biggest social channel in the world, but it isn’t suitable for every market. In Russia, Facebook is almost non-existent, and a network called VKontakte holds the majority of the market share. Facebook and Twitter are also both banned in China, where WeChat and Webo are two of the most popular channels. Target audiences across these channels will also differ, as will the promotional message you send. Final word Localizing your website is a positive step on the way to going global. But it’s also a complicated process to undertake in-house and fraught with pitfalls if you don’t do your research. Taking care to avoid the mistakes listed above will go a long way towards a successful localization. If you’re thinking about localizing your website but don’t know where to start, feel free to get in touch with Localizer. We provide a full-stack website localization platform that gives businesses all the tools they need in one place. Using Localizer can also save you a lot of time and money when compared to localizing in-house.

10 signs that you need to professionally translate your website

 by anthony on  |
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To a certain point, Google Translate can be an effective way to serve your content in many languages. But as your business grows and website needs evolve, a professional website translation will help meet these needs.  Below are ten signs that it's time for you to invest in a professional website translation.   1. You're already an international retailer Providing multilingual product information is key to international sales success. Common Sense Advisory found 75% of consumers prefer buying products in their own language. With a single language site, you’re missing out on all these potential customers. 2. Growth is a core focus for you A business often sees periods of exponential growth, before reaching a plateau or decline. This happens more if you’re in a single market, where growth potential is more limited. A multilingual website can break plateaus and prompt growth by targeting new markets.  3. To gain a competitive edge There are two things to consider here. First, if your competitors have a multilingual website, they have an edge over you. Second, if they don’t have a multilingual website, you’re gaining an edge by doing something that they're not doing. Whatever your competitors are doing, translating your website will help you catch up or give you a competitive advantage. 4. Add strength to your brand A website that looks native will always appear more trustworthy than one that doesn’t. Customers are more comfortable with and likely to buy from websites that look familiar to them. A multilingual site also lets you tailor content to suit the needs of each audience. 5. Regulatory requirements Depending on your industry, you may be legally required to display your content in multiple languages. This could be allergy information for food or process information for manufactured goods. If it's stated by law, it's imperative to have a high-quality translation. A professional translation will ensure no errors or miscommunications occur. 6. You ship to many countries International shipping requires a certain level of localization and translation to make it customer-friendly. Translating to the right currencies, shipping rates and units of measurement influence customer purchasing choices. These vary by country and standardized shipping information will not work across regions. 7. Brand popularity has reached new regions Some brands often garner interest from overseas before they have even reached that country. This provides readymade and untapped growth potential if you can harness it. Providing brand information with a professionally translated website is conducive to improving this growth and attracting even more visitors. 8. Analytics show that you need to Your website analytics can be a great indicator of when you need to translate your content. Analyze your traffic to understand where it is coming from and from what languages. If a certain language is bringing a lot of traffic, it may be worthwhile translating to this language to grow it even further. 9. For better UX and SEO A translated website with the appropriate subdomains can improve SEO friendliness across languages. Professional translators can keep context and tone of voice, whereas a machine translation cannot. Professional translators can also include SEO keywords which improve visibility in search engines. 10. To improve conversion rates Increased search engine visibility gained by adding new languages will drive more site traffic. This increase in traffic then gives you the opportunity to get more conversions. When visitors land on a professionally translated site it appears native to their market, creates trust and increases conversion chances.