Website translation proxy services are popular among companies that want to quickly translate their content without developing a complete localization strategy. These services are easy, inexpensive, and fluid, making them ideal for just about every environment. However, those benefits are relatively short-term; in the long run, using a website translation proxy will cost you more.
If you wanted to see the actual benefits compared to a robust localization program, you’d need to compare the long-term costs over five years or more. With that comparison, you’d see that there are some definitive downsides to these services. Only a localization program has true staying power that will drive the ROI for years to come.
Pros and Cons of Website Translation Proxy
With a website translation proxy, you’re not actually translating content; you’re using a mask to deliver it. It’s as if your content is wearing a Halloween costume; it might look like something else temporarily, but underneath, it’s still the same content. This process has both benefits and drawbacks:
- Easy initial setup: It’s straightforward to use a website translation proxy. You sign up with a service and it starts working right away by filtering content through an intermediary and delivering it to your page.
- Low initial investment: Proxy services are typically subscription-based programs that are much cheaper (initially) than setting up a full-scale localization program. With one, you don’t have to set up a team of translators, assign managers, or establish processes that could be time-consuming and expensive.
- CMS-fluid: Many proxy services can work with any content management system (CMS), making them very flexible if you decide to change platforms and work with a new company.
- No site architecture changes: Google will generate a temporary URL for translated content. You won’t need to set up subdirectories for all your various languages, simplifying the site architecture process.
- Long-term costs: Over time, the price of website translation proxy services will increase, as it’s based on traffic. The more visitors you get, the more the service costs you. Also, if you wish to switch away from proxy services, costs could go into the millions for a large site.
- Inflexibility: Because the CMS is not ready for globalization, you can’t switch away from the proxy without redoing your site entirely. You also can’t regionalize or customize pages; all your content is translated word for word from English.
- Architectural preparation: Since the proxy requires no change to the site architecture, this vital setup is incomplete. What if you want to switch away from the proxy server and create genuine content in new languages? You have to rebuild the entire site from scratch.
- SEO risk: Google sees the masks as temporary pages. As a result, you lose your entire SEO strategy in new languages. While there are workarounds, many are much more challenging than simply using a better system from the beginning.
The biggest problem with website translation proxy services is that you can’t take that content with you. It’s a temporary solution to a long-term problem. If you try to use it for a large site, you’ll likely become trapped with the service. A smarter option is to create a localization strategy that will eventually work as a proxy by automating content updates.
Alternatives to Proxy Services
An alternative to a proxy service program is to use automation for website translation. The setup for this is a bit more challenging. You’ll have to establish a site architecture of subdirectories and build-in connectors that allow the translation platform to monitor existing content changes. When detected, this should trigger projects with a chosen agency and assign those jobs to the best translator. All of this will require a localization management platform facilitated with the right customer success team. While it’s a bit more challenging initially, it has long-term value.
This process works as seamlessly as proxy services but eliminates the many pitfalls. You will own your translated files, as well as the translation memory they create. You can update content in a specific language and connect to particular markets. Plus, since your content has a specific directory, your SEO results will be preserved.
A robust localization program is far more valuable than website translation proxy services because it has staying power. It will grow with your company and act as a guide to new markets when you’re ready to expand. While proxy solutions do have their benefits, localization management offers the same with only a little extra work up front.