How to Reach a Global Audience With Google Translate

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Google TranslateLike many English people, I expect everyone to speak our language fluently. Rather than spend hours learning basic phrases, it’s far easier to speak slowly and gesticulate wildly. That’s why I end up buying a stuffed aardvark rather than the beer and peanuts I actually wanted.

On the web, an English-only attitude can lose you customers. The web is global; even publishing content in UK English can cause confusion in the US. However, few of us have the time, money, or resources to translate our pages.

Fortunately, automated tools are available to help you reach an international audience. They’re no substitute for accurate human translation, but they can help visitors understand what you’re trying to say. The latest translation tool has been developed by Google so you know it’s likely to offer more than most of the competitors.

The Google Translate Tool is available from To use it:

  1. Choose your website language.
  2. Choose to translate to all supported languages or a specific selection.
  3. Copy the code provided into your web page.

Like most translation tools, a drop-down list of supported languages is provided on your page in the location where the code was pasted:

translation widget

However, if your browser is set to a default language other than the one you’re viewing, a translation bar automatically appears at the top of the page. The bar is provided in the visitor’s language and offers a one-click translation process:

translation bar

Finally, for phrases that are lost in translation, the Google tool offers a useful hover-over popup box containing the original text:

translation popup
View an example page with Google Translate

The Google translation tool supports over 50 languages. Even Welsh. I can’t vouch for it’s accuracy, but it looks good given my limited knowledge of French and Spanish.

What do you think of the Google Translate tool? Is it accurate? Would you use it?


Image credit: zboog

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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