In this section you can find some useful tips on localizing your website and dealing with translation vendors, as well as a glossary with the most common terms.
Be culturally sensitive
Localization means more than just translation: remember to adapt your site to the local culture and tone of voice, not just translate your content word-for-word. Professional translators who are native speakers in the target language can help you tailor your message. Also, don't forget about regional language varieties: Spanish in Spain and Mexico are, for example, quite different. In this case, you may want to create different translations for each country.
Ensure the quality of your site content
Your website represents your business in local markets, so make sure your site content is in top shape. Machine translation is good for testing instant translations, but only a professional, human translator can account for the nuances of crafting a message to your target audience.
Working with translation service providers
Translation vendors fall into three broad categories:
- Multi-language vendors (MLVs): MLVs offer a one-stop shop for handling all your translation needs. For example, an MLV might offer translations from English into Arabic, Chinese, French, German, and Spanish.
- Single-language vendors (SLVs): SLVs offer local coverage. Typically, SLVs handle translations from different source languages into one target language. For example, a German SLV might offer translations from English into German and from Spanish into German.
- Freelancers: Freelancers are individuals who usually translate from one or more languages into their native language.
Service levels vary by vendor. Larger vendors provide a full range of localization services, including translation, project management, and desktop publishing (DTP). Smaller vendors and freelancers may provide only translation services.
Translation services are often charged on a per-word rate, although creative translations may also be charged per hour. For example, if your original-language document ("source") contains 400 words, your vendor may charge $0.20 per word, and the translation will cost $80. Depending on the project, you may also need to pay for additional services, such as project management and DTP.
If a vendor charges an hourly rate, you should expect an estimate of the throughput, or the number of words the service provider may translate per hour.
Most service providers will create a translation memory (TM) for your translations. TMs are databases of previous, human translations that translators can reuse for your subsequent projects to save time and costs. Translation vendors typically offer price reductions if your project matches content in translation memory.
Your translation vendor will provide specific details about pricing, service levels, and other project details.
Computer-aided translation (CAT) tool.
Any tool that combines glossaries, translation memories, or machine translation to help people translate content. CAT tools typically show original-language documents and their translations side-by-side to help translators work through individual sentences or other segments. Google Translator Toolkit is an example of a CAT tool.
Desktop publishing (DTP).
Skills and software used to create graphics for point-of-sale displays, promotional items, trade show exhibits, retail package designs, and outdoor signs.
Person who typically translates one or more source languages into his or her native language.
A list of translations of specialized terms. Translators use the glossary to ensure
consistency across documents.
Learn how to use the translation glossary in Google Translator Toolkit.
The process of adapting content to a specific region or language by translating text and adding locale-specific references.
Localization service provider (LSP).
An entity that provides localization services. An LSP is usually either a multi-language vendor, single-language vendor, or a freelance translator.
Machine translation (MT).
Translation automatically generated by computers, usually through statistical modeling (statistical machine translation or SMT), translation rules (rules-based machine translation or RBMT), or a combination of both. Google Translate is an example of a machine translation system. While it isn't perfect, machine translation offers a free or low-cost way of translating your website.
Multi-language vendor (MLV).
Translation company that offers translation services into several language pairs (source and target together, such as French-German or English-Spanish).
Non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
A legal contract between a translation vendor and a client that outlines acceptable use and sharing of confidential material, knowledge, or information.
An intermediate language into which your original language content is translated before it gets translated into other languages. For example, say you're having trouble finding vendors to translate content directly from Traditional Chinese to Arabic and Spanish. You might instead find a vendor to translate Traditional Chinese to English, then translate English to Arabic and Spanish. In this case, English is the pivot language.
The payment structure used by a translation vendor, usually a cost per word per language or cost per hour per language. When the vendor uses translation memories or machine translation, the pricing model may include a discount based on the quality of machine translation and translation memory matches.
Service-level agreement (SLA).
A document showing agreed-upon service terms for a translation project, such as turnaround time, pricing, delivery method, and quality.
Single-language vendor (SLV).
Translation company that offers translation services into one language pair (English-Spanish, for example).
The original language of a project.
A document with instructions for the translators. For example, your style guide includes the following rule: For comma-separated lists with at least three items, always include a comma before the "and." Given this rule, the vendor would translate 'manzanas, naranjas, y peras' to 'apples, oranges, and pears' instead of 'apples, oranges and pears'.
The language into which your source language is translated.
Translation memory (TM).
A database used by translators that contains previously translated words, phrases and paragraphs. By using translation memories, you can improve translation consistency. You can also save costs, because vendors often provide discounts if your source content matches content already in translation memory. For example, say your tagline, Save more with MyCompany, was previously translated into Spanish. Your vendor might provide a discount for translating the same text into Spanish (or provide the service for free). Translation memories are often integrated into computer-aided translation (CAT) tools.
Turnaround time (TAT).
The total time it takes a vendor to return a completed translation to a client after the vendor receives the source content.
How much does localization cost?
The final cost of localization depends on a number of factors:
- Content. If your content requires specialized knowledge, you may pay a premium. For example, translating a website with medical terminology can require translators with advanced degrees in medicine, biochemistry or related fields.
- Engineering. If your content is in a specialized file format (say, a custom form of XML), a translation vendor may require engineers to ensure special commands embedded in XML aren't corrupted during translation.
- Project management. If you're translating content into multiple languages, you may need a project manager to keep the project on schedule, respond to questions from translators, and handle other logistics.
- Source and target language. Some languages have fewer skilled translators than others. For example, Icelandic translators are in short supply compared with Spanish translators.
For pricing details, contact your translation vendor.
Does Google recommend certain translation vendors?
I have native speakers in my office. Do I still need to use a translation vendor?
It depends on the amount of content you need translated, the time and resources you have, and the desired output. A translation vendor can offer a scalable translation solution for you. If, however, you want to use native speakers in your office, you might consider using Google Translator Toolkit, a free tool that offers machine translation.
Do AdWords Editor and Translator Toolkit work together?
Yes, you can upload and download between the two. Read more.