What to do if You Use Google Translate on Your Site

November 13, 2019

Have you heard the Google Translate news?

Avez-vous déjà entendu?

Has oído las noticias?

Haben Sie schon die Neuigkeit gehört?

האם שמעת את החדשות

The much-loved and heavily-used Google Translate’s Website Translator plugin is being sunset by Google.

This powerful plugin provides automatic translations of site content. While it’s not always perfect, it has been a quick and easy way to make your site available to individuals who speak different languages. Best of all, it was free for all to use!

Google has not issued an official announcement of this change beyond this: an update to the site where you once signed up to get the widget, which now suggests you use “browsers that support translation natively” i.e., Google Chrome:

Why Did Google Deprecate the Google Translate Toolbar?

We don’t know for sure, because Google hasn’t released an official statement. However, there are theories: translation provider Argo Translation surmises that the change was due to the financial burden of providing the service, combined with abuse of the terms of use by private companies, which led to contamination of the translated content.

The statement on the old Translate Toolbar website also seems to point to another reason: Google already provides translation services through translate.google.com and through the Chrome browser.

Of course, none of that helps nonprofits.

Replacing Google Translate

So here’s what to do if you use Google Translate on your site:

Step One: Start planning.

While Google has not yet announced that it will pull the plug on existing translation toolbars, it hasn’t promised that it will keep existing installations running, either. We recommend that you plan to replace the translation toolbar before it stops working.

Step Two: Lower your expectations.

The beauty of the Google Translate Toolbar was its ease of use and (lack of) cost: with very little effort, you could add it to your website, at no cost whatsoever (besides, perhaps, the cost to have a developer add it for you).

Your Google Translate replacement options are not so easy, nor so affordable. The cost effective solutions require manual translations and the automatic translators can come with a steep price tag, so prepare yourself and your stakeholders for a bit of work and a bit of cost.

Step Three: Decide whether you’ll continue to use machine translations or switch to human translations.

If you decide to stick with machine translations, these options both provide automatic translation of your website using Google’s machine translation. In both cases, the website is translated on-the-fly when the user selects their language by clicking.

  • A WordPress plugin like Translate WordPress – Google Language Translator, which is still using Google’s massive translation machinery to provide translations via the Google Translate API in the background.
  • A paid service like GTranslate, which also offers you the ability to style the language chooser, correct machine translations, and to get statistics on which languages are most often used on your site.

If you want to switch to human translations, you also have several options:

  • A translation service / plugin like WeGlot, which fully translates all of your content, and lets you choose between machine translation (free for 200 words from one single language) and human translation (for a fee). You can get your site automatically translated to start, and then order human translations of parts of the site you’re particularly worried about. Check out WeGlot’s pricing structure.
  • A WordPress plugin like WPML, which allows you to manually manage human translations of each page/post on your site within your WordPress dashboard. You can even outsource the translations to a professional translation service directly from the plugin. WPML has two pricing levels, which you can compare against other multilingual plugins here.
  • Translating part, but not all of your website. Perhaps you create landing pages for key languages, and/or offer only certain resources in key languages, like our customer, Access Now — check out this link to Access Now’s German resources, and use the Language dropdown to select other languages. This can also be an excellent exercise in determining what content is actually relevant to your audiences.

Step Four: Implement the new solution

Although it’s tempting to wait until your Google Translate Toolbar stops working, we’d recommend you replace it before it breaks and leaves your non-English-speaking audience in a lurch.

Get Help Replacing Google Translate on your Website

Cornershop is always around to help! Please reach out if you’d like our help replacing the Google Translate Toolbar on your website. We’re happy to help you make a solid plan, pick the right option for your organization, and implement a cost-effective solution.

By Lesley Molecke

Lesley has been working on the web since she was in high school and ran her own small web design shop before she could drive. She has extensive experience performing user testing and usability studies, rewriting and improving complex language to appeal to a wide variety of audiences, and helping organizations adopt the right technologies to achieve their goals. Her heart really belongs to nonprofits and small businesses, where she can see the tangible benefits of a healthy web presence: donations, connections, engagements, and sales.