Improving Your Translation Quality: A Complete Guide

Elizabeth Pokorny
Written by
Elizabeth Pokorny
Elizabeth Pokorny
Written by
Elizabeth Pokorny
Reviewed by
Improving Your Translation Quality: A Complete Guide

High-quality translations are a vital facet of global expansion, impacting the user experience, brand reputation, and growth potential.

The translation industry itself contains multiple moving parts. A single project may require the expertise of translators, editors, linguists, and project managers. Businesses requiring high-quality translations need to ensure these parts work together for a successful end result.

And there are further challenges to navigate as part of the process.

Assessing translation quality can be subjective. Cultural nuances and specific industry terminology add complexities to any project. Keeping any translation campaign organized and within budget is no easy feat.

In this guide, we’ll explore the factors that contribute to getting things right. You’ll discover how to measure translation quality effectively, as well as the strategies and tools needed to ensure premium results.

Factors That Contribute to a Quality Translation

Before the digital era, judging translation quality came down to personal opinion. Manual translations relied on humans, who are naturally less consistent than machines. The shift towards technology has greatly improved the potential for accuracy.

Machines are able to maintain language consistencies across thousands of pages, provide real-time quality checks, and flag potential errors. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) now able to do the bulk of the work, humans can be employed to review and refine. A hybrid approach reduces timelines while allowing both machines and humans to work on tasks best suited to their skill set.

However, any translation quality assessment must also consider context. Legal or medical documents demand absolute precision and knowledge far beyond that of basic word-to-word translation. Marketing materials may need to incorporate cultural nuances and be created with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind.

Context is critical – a poorly translated medical document could endanger lives, while a mistranslated marketing slogan may offend your target audience.

Consider the following components when judging translation quality:

  • Linguistic accuracy: Accuracy is crucial in translation. Mistakes can confuse readers and alter meaning. Ensure grammar, spelling, vocabulary, syntax, and punctuation are correct.
  • Cultural nuance: Using language and terms your audience understands personalizes written materials. Translations should reflect language preferences, trends, and even local customs.
  • Consistency: Consistency in language and style makes content look professional. It also builds trust among your readers and ensures that a brand’s messaging is clear.
  • Contextual understanding: Words are easily misunderstood when taken out of context. A quality translation relies as much upon intent, tone, and style as the words themselves.
  • Technical competence: Even fluent multilingual speakers may not have the technical knowledge needed to handle some industry-specific translations. Technical or niche work should be handled by translators with sufficient knowledge.
  • Adherence to translation standards: Existing quality standards and certifications can be used to measure translation quality, including ISO 17100. We’ll look at these in detail shortly!
  • Target audience awareness: Knowing who you’re translating for can make all the difference. Understanding your intended audience’s education level, demographics, interests, and expectations enables you to tailor content appropriately.

Measuring Translation Quality: Metrics and Tools

Specific standards and metrics exist for the purpose of assessing translation quality beyond human assessment. Some key standards include:

  • ISO 17100: The ISO 17100 comes from the International Organization for Standardization. It outlines the main criteria that a quality translation service should provide.
  • ASTM F2575-14: The ASTM F2575-14 standard comes from the American Society for Testing and Materials. It provides a guideline for the basic parameters that should be considered when undertaking a translation project.
  • Machine Translation Quality Estimation (MTQE): Highly useful in the digital world, MTQE is a machine-based evaluation method, assessing machine translation quality by comparing the original text and its translated output.
  • Bilingual Evaluation Understudy (BLEU): The BLEU metric also measures the similarity between machine-translated text and a reference translation. It then evaluates the quality of the translation based on overlapping ‘n-grams’ – continuous sequences of words. BLEU metrics are typically used to evaluate the performance of machine translation systems in their development.

Bear in mind that – even in the AI era – translation quality remains subjective and context-based. Using metrics and standards alone is often insufficient in assessing the quality of a translation. The above standards are useful as a refinement tool but should not be relied upon.

To ensure accurate and useful translations, assess them using the criteria explored in our previous section. Thorough assessments lead to better results.

Strategies for Ensuring High-Quality Translations

Taking a structured, organized approach can help ensure high-quality translations. We recommend a tried-and-tested, 3-step process for website translation.

Adopting this for your own translation campaigns will help you ensure maximum quality and maintain efficiencies.

1. Use Website Translation Software

Traditional translation methods are becoming obsolete. Manual translation work is time-consuming and costly. Humans are also more prone to error and are less consistent than machines when working on repetitive tasks.

Website translation software has revolutionized the process, ensuring all your content is translated and correctly displayed. Although popular tools such as Google Translate have their strengths, tools like Weglot can translate entire websites in a single click, and automatically translate new content the moment your core site is updated.

Such software provides users with a complete Translation Management System (TMS). This is crucial for quality control, allowing side-by-side viewing of the original and translated text. TMS features for ensuring quality include:

  • Project management: A TMS allows you to centralize your translation process and work from a single platform. The best software integrates with Content Management Systems (CMS) as well as communication tools and other plugins.
  • Team collaboration: A dedicated interface allows you to securely add human translators directly to a project, bypassing the need to give them access to your website's backend.
  • In-context editor: An editor allows you to see your translations directly on the web pages. Translators are able to match the right words with the right designs, ensuring both accuracy and a good user experience.

Using Weglot can also take care of multilingual SEO – a vital consideration when translating content that is intended to rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). The platform automatically implements hreflang tags, which serve up different language versions of a website depending on the user’s location, and URL subdomains. These ensure that your translated content is crawled and indexed by Google, meaning overseas users have a better chance of finding you online.

Localized Adidas search results in USA and France

2. Using Machine Translations

Website translation software should include machine translations as standard. They’re never a complete solution, but they’ll accomplish the bulk of the work in a far faster time than a human.

To optimize machine translations:

  • Segment your content: Prioritize essential pages based on the needs of your intended audience. For example, an ecommerce brand might view its homepage, landing pages, and product descriptions as being most important. FAQs, a knowledge base, and customer support pages can also be useful to a new audience.
  • Consider context: It’s equally vital to omit any content that may not meet the needs of your new international customers. This may include local news stories from your core site or blogs featuring native humor.

Prioritizing pages prior to machine translation helps to personalize your content and meet customer requirements and pain points.

Machine translations can accelerate any project, and studies show that their accuracy is consistently improving. However, the software should include a post-editing option to adapt your content to reflect cultural nuances, audience preferences, and technical jargon. That’s where expert human translators come in.

Weglot’s machine and manual translation features

3. Professional Translation

Machine translations are a good start, but human experts can take your content to the next level. They can review a translated site and identify sections, words, and phrases that need refining.

Some sections, like basic product descriptions, may need no human attention, while others may need to be edited for native nuances or to ensure your brand’s voice is heard in a different language.

Wherever possible, use translation companies or skilled contractors with experience in your industry. They’ll need to understand both your brand and the audience you’re hoping to reach.

Weglot comes with a built-in translation glossary to aid the human side of translation work and to ensure future content is machine-translated with greater accuracy. The glossary ensures your preferred translations of words and phrases remain consistent across a site, matching cultural nuances and improving overall quality.

Professional translators which you can order through your Weglot Dashboard, are also essential for ensuring your translated website is ready for the market. They’ll be able to meticulously proofread your final content and eliminate grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors. This ensures your translated website reads just as well as in the original language.

Best Practices in Translation Management

Successful translation management is a continuous process. The most successful globalized companies organize and refine their campaigns to ensure their content makes the maximum impression. Consider the following best practices in translation management when working on your own projects:

  • Clearly defined workflows: Even small translation projects tend to include multiple pages and multiple partners. It’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by the scale of a project and lose track of timelines. Define translation workflows at the beginning, from initial machine translation to native-speaker editing and final proofreading.
  • Localization: Localization means adapting content to the culture of your target audience. This ensures your message lands effectively, avoiding unintended misinterpretations due to cultural differences. You’ll need to consider everything from words and imagery to symbols and body language.
  • Continuous feedback: Invite feedback from translators, developers, marketers, and anyone else working on a project. Learn from customer reviews and information shared on user forums or through surveys. A continuous improvement cycle leads to higher-quality translations and keeps content relevant.
  • Skill development: Invest in training for your translation team. This can improve their ability to handle nuanced language, understand your brand voice, and stay up-to-date with industry trends and terminology.
  • Keep up with SEO: Search engine algorithms change on a regular basis. Keep up your knowledge of the latest SEO trends to enable search engines to find, crawl, and index your content. Revisit the keywords used on your multilingual websites regularly, as these often reflect shopping trends and are subject to change.
  • Leverage technology: A TMS can centralize and organize projects, and accelerate campaigns by using machine translations.

Incorporating Translation Tools for Enhanced Accuracy

Leveraging technology is one thing, but your choice of tools can impact the overall quality of a translation project. If a chosen tool doesn’t meet your needs, its results will likely fail your customers too.

Consider an all-round solution like Weglot, which comes with all the features a quality translation project requires. The platform can automate aspects of the translation process, improving overall timescales and efficiencies. It also allows you to combine automation with human expertise for the best possible results.

Weglot can translate entire sites in a single click, completing the bulk of the work alone. Professional translators and editors can then refine the language used to match local consumer preferences.

Here's how Weglot maximizes translation quality and reduces costs:

  • Automatic content detection and translation: Weglot ensures that nothing is missed. Any content updates made to your core site are instantly translated into your chosen languages.
  • Central dashboard: Weglot aids collaboration between project managers, developers, and translators by integrating with various CMS and communication tools, bringing everything together in one place.
  • Translation glossary: The built-in glossary enables you to create translation rules and display preferred translations of specific words and phrases across your site. This helps you maintain consistency in brand terminology and overall tone across a website.
  • Multilingual SEO: Weglot automatically optimizes your translated website for search engines (hreflang tags, translated metadata, language-specific URLs), boosting global visibility by allowing international users to find you online.
  • Visual editor: The visual editor helps translators assess how well-translated text fits its intended context. This is especially vital for non-Latin or right-to-left text. Page layouts and designs can be altered to ensure they look appealing and professional.
Weglot’s visual editor feature

Take Your Translation Quality to the Next Level with Weglot

Translation quality has a marked impact on a brand’s globalization campaigns. High-quality, localized translations have a direct result on the user experience, brand reputation, and overall business success. Personalized communication is key when it comes to attracting new customers, and poor-quality translations usually result in your target audience looking elsewhere.

Although quality can be subjective, every brand should consider the translation components, strategies, and best practices detailed above. Producing high-quality, accurate translations can help you build a foundation in new markets and gain an edge over the competition.

Having a translation quality assurance process in place can reduce timescales and costs. And utilizing our three-step process will maximize both overall quality and efficiency:

  1. Translation management software for organization.
  2. Machine translation for consistency and speed.
  3. Human translation for fine-tuning.

Weglot provides end-to-end website translation, allowing you to set your translation quality and automate the day-to-day running of a multilingual website. It saves time by automating content translation in 110+ languages, as well as taking care of multilingual SEO. Human experts can refine translations on your multilingual sites, and the translation glossary makes localization efforts a breeze.

See Weglot live on your website with our 10-day free trial (no credit card required) or check out our product demo.

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