Welcome to the world of professional translation. If you’re reading this post, it means that you’re interested in learning more about getting great translation for your site. Unfortunately, too many sites are poorly translated and suffer for it. If you already know that professional translation is the right choice for you, you’ve taken the first important step.

Great translation will get you more business. It will do that in two ways. First, people reaching your site will see that you’re trustworthy. Well-written content makes you look professional. Poorly written content, or poorly translated content, makes you look like an amateur.

Second, Google “thinks” in the same way. It knows the difference between good and bad language. Why? Because Google needs to understand your content in order to properly index and show it. There’s no way that Google will show your pages when it can’t understand them. So, good translation is part of your site’s SEO and works to establish your authority.

Professional translation is the easiest way to get great translation for your sites.

Choosing What to Translate

This might be a bit less obvious, but for most sites, it makes no sense to translate everything. Take a look at our own site WPML.org. It’s multilingual and has over a million “posts” in its database. Of course, we don’t translate all of them. We only translate the pages that we need to, in order to attract clients and serve them. Otherwise, we’d be spending millions on translation that nobody needs.

For a typical “ecommerce” site such as our own WPML.org, the pages that people frequently visit and are on the path to sales would need to be translated. This includes the description for the homepage, the products, a few words about us, and getting-started material.

We want to offer our clients a more localized experience on our site, so we also translated the entire “user accounts” section.

WPML has a feature that allows you to set the translation priority for content (both pages and strings). By default, the priority is set to “optional”. However, you can mark pages as “required”. Then, in the Translation Dashboard, you can easily find these pages and send them to translation.

Translation priority option when editing your content
Translation priority option when editing your content

Choosing a Translation Service

WPML offers integration with leading translation services. Any of the services on the list will provide great translation and a streamlined process. Different services specialize in different markets. We recommend that you find a service that knows the subject of your site and can offer translation that will appear native to your audience.

Follow the instructions for the different translation services to see how you should create an account on their systems and connect that account to WPML.

Selecting a translation service in WPML
Selecting a translation service in WPML

Doing a Small Test Translation

We recommend that you start with a small test translation, to make sure that the entire process works for you. A test translation will help confirm that you’ve selected the correct content types, fields, and strings for translation.

To experiment without having parts of your site appearing “under construction”, WPML lets you hide languages. Go to the WPML -> Languages page and scroll to the Hide languages section. Any language that you hide will be invisible to your visitors and only visible to site admins.

The Translation Dashboard, located on the WPML -> Translation Management page lets you send content to translation. When the translation is complete, review the result and see if anything appears untranslated.

Sending content for translation
Sending content for translation

Finding Strings that Require Translation

If you see that some text on the site appears untranslated, it may be strings or fields that you haven’t marked for translation.

To send strings to translation, go to WPML -> String Translation. Use the search to find strings that you see on the front end that require translation.

Sending strings for translation
Sending strings for translation

Reviewing Translations and Allowing Visitors to Leave Feedback

Language can be subjective. Text that is grammatically correct may look out of place sometimes. WPML allows you to open newly translated content to feedback by visitors. This feedback will ensure that your actual clients have an easy way to suggest improvements to the translated content.

When translation feedback is enabled, visitors can leave feedback regarding the translated content
When translation feedback is enabled, visitors can leave feedback regarding the translated content

When we translate our own content, we always ask a native speaker from our team to review it. Still, we open up newly translated content to visitor feedback. Occasionally, we receive great feedback about niche terms that are a better translation than what we chose.

Conclusion

Using professional translation can greatly help your site look polished in all its languages. This will help your pages convert better and help Google understand and rank your site.

In this tutorial, we explained how we recommend working with professional translation services. We write this mainly from our own experience. We’ve been running our own multilingual sites for the past 10 years, and we’ve experienced great growth owing to traffic that comes from all over the world, in different languages.

We hope that your translation project goes smoothly. If you follow this tutorial, chances are you’ll enjoy a streamlined translation process and receive translation that works for you.

What do you think? Leave a comment and tell us about your expectations from translation services and your own experience.

11 Responses to “How to Work Better with Translation Services”

  1. Hi, nice article, I’d like to comment on two thing you mention:

    1) Translation Service
    I think it is very difficult to find a good translation service. I literally had to visit the website of each and every service you mention on your website. Most of the services don’t offer the language pairs I need. The list of translation service could really use several filter criteria, such as language pairs, markets they are specialized in, pricing information, office location(s), use of translation memory etc.

    Also, the translation service list does show a star rating for popularity but it’s not clear what this is based on. What’s really missing here is a review score. I have used one service that I was extremely unhappy about. They claim they do translations for my language pairs, then I had to invite translators to apply and 99% didn’t even bother to do so. And the 1% that did apply were not native speakers. Because of that, I looked for another service, contacted several of them on the list and not even half of them replied. I am very positive about the one I use now though so I really wish I could leave some reviews.

    Reviewing Translations
    I have used the translation review options once. Not a very good experience because it only allows visitors to review the entire page. There is no option for them to indicate the string/sentence that needs to be improved. It would help if they could select the word or sentence and then comment on that specific part of the page. Or at the very least if they could add a screenshot to there comment and highlight the specific part (similar to leaving feedback for Gmail or the Google Agenda).

    Thanks
    JP

    • I’m curious. What language pairs were you looking for?

      We can’t keep a list of the language pairs that translation services support, because these lists are very dynamic. They hire new translators frequently, as clients need them. And, sometimes they drop availability for language pairs when there is no demand.

      Our “popularity” rating is what we can measure. We check how many projects WPML clients do with the different translation services on our system. Of course, this doesn’t represent all the projects that these services do. Since other WPML clients also need to translate WordPress sites, this popularity shows how much WordPress work the different translation services are doing.

      I agree that we could add highlight for sentences in the review popup. Initially we didn’t implement it like that because it’s much harder than appears. Text on the page could come from anywhere. It can be part of a post, a custom field, taxonomy, string from the theme and others. Being able to trace texts from the output back to the database is very problematic and would never be 100% reliable. So, as a working compromise, we opened the entire page for feedback. This feedback mechanism already helps many website owners know about issues with translations on their sites. I agree that it would be better to get feedback directly to a string in the database, but it’s not always doable. So, the next best thing is to alert that there’s a problem on the page.

      I like your suggestion about asking specifically what’s wrong on the page. This isn’t very complicated to do.

      I hope this helps.

    • Hi John-Pierre,

      All valid comments. I’ve been hesitant to work with these translation services as I figured there wouldn’t be a lot of services offering solid translations from Dutch.

      I did work with capable translators, but I sourced them differently and they didn’t know how WPML worked, so that added quite a bit of work for me.

      Curious to hear which company you’ve found that does German and French translations (perhaps Spanish too?).

      Thanks,
      Frank

      • ICanLocalize has translators in these languages. If you need additional languages, they will get translators for you.

  2. Hi Amir, thanks for your reply.

    I was looking for translations from Dutch to English + French + German. I understand it’s difficult to track the language pairs. On the other hand, it’s up to the translation services to keep the list up to date. Apart from the language pairs, it would still be beneficial if there would be some filter options to search for a suitable service.

    Popularity rank is clear, thanks for explaining. Please take a review option for translation services as a suggestion to further improve that list.

    As for the review translation option, I didn’t mean to actually link the feedback item to a string in the database. Only an option where they can select the sentence + add a comment to have both included in the feedback email. Or just include a screenshot on which they can mark the part they are referring to. Here is a screenshot that shows how Google does it in Gmail (feedback option in the gear icon menu)>
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1zIsPBWD8CRaK0wlKzQixqATmdxcN6ZIG

    Thanks
    JP

  3. All the points you have mentioned are correct. Doing a small test translation and Reviewing Translations and Allowing Visitors to Leave Feedback is very helpful. Will look forward to reading more of such interesting content from your side.Thanks.

  4. I really liked what you said about how WMPL offers integration with leading translation services. My husband has to work with another company in a different country and language, so he’s looking into software to help him translate their websites more accurately for him and his company’s website more easily for them. Thank you for the information about how the different services will specialize in different markets and will help with the subject of the site.