What place does AI have in content translation?

Website translation has long been a complex and entirely manual process. It was necessary to send the URLs of the pages or product sheets to be translated to translators, then integrate these translations. With large volumes of content, it was impossible to be agile and publish quality content quickly. AI has completely changed the game: it is now possible with a tool like Weglot to translate thousands of web pages in just a few minutes and integrate them into your CMS. The translation of your content becomes completely automatic while maintaining control over your translations: each new content put online is translated instantly, and a simple rereading is enough… Overview of automatic translation and how it works, its advantages, but also its limits.

Machine translation and generative AI

Machine translation: AI at the service of translation

Automatic translation or machine translation is a part of artificial intelligence that allows the automatic conversion of texts from one language to another. It provides accurate translations that retain the meaning and context of the original content. The main translation players such as DeepL, Google Translate or Microsoft rely on this technology. There are 3 main models of machine translation:

  • RBMT or rule-based translation : it uses directories of linguistic rules and dictionaries to translate.
  • SMT or statistical machine translation : it relies on statistical models and a large quantity of bilingual data to estimate correspondences between sentences.
  • NMT or neural translation : it is based on neural networks to offer nuanced and more natural translations. This method analyzes the content globally, as a human would, and can self-correct to better contextualize the translated text. It is the most efficient solution today and is favored by most market players.

Generative AI: at the service of creation

When we talk about AI, we increasingly think of generative AI and in particular ChatGPT. Generative AIs are capable of creating new and original content from a prompt. The functionalities are obviously very broad: creation of articles, scripts, images, music, computer code, etc. Generative AI is therefore perfectly suited to creative tasks, while automatic translation mainly transforms content by modifying the language of a text.

Machine translation and generative AI are two facets of AI that should not be confused. Even though ChatGPT is fully capable of translating text, it is designed more for creating original content. It is not optimized for translation and will therefore be less reliable and less precise than a machine translation tool which will have access to large linguistic databases. On the other hand, by giving it as much context as possible, ChatGPT can be as accurate, or even more precise, than a machine translation provider like DeepL.

State of the art of website translation with AI

Machine translation has made a huge leap in just a few years. Until recently, Google Translate (and other services) still offered imprecise translations, often full of misinterpretations and errors. These tools made it possible to vaguely grasp the meaning of a text, but were very far from the quality of a human translation.

Machine translation is now booming and increasingly used by digital professionals. Many retailers, merchants or media offer multilingual content thanks to AI. This is, for example, what Reddit has been doing for several weeks to translate its content into French. The platform recently implemented automatic translation to offer all content from English to French in real time. An impressive deployment that allows the translation of hundreds of millions of pages from one language to another. For Reddit, this is obviously a great way to launch an internationalization strategy and improve SEO by indexing all this French content on Google. This community site with a very American identity and a small core of French users can bet on a much larger (and non-English speaking) audience thanks to the translation of this content.

Why use automatic translation?

Machine translation is an interesting asset for digital players with large quantities of content to translate. By using a tool like Weglot, you can easily save a lot of time to offer multilingual content to your users, while maintaining control over your translations by being able to edit them yourself or with the help of translators.

Simple and easy

AI translation allows you to reach new markets (and new audiences) very quickly and easily. All you need to do is install a plugin on your site, and the tool translates all your pages into several languages. A tool like Weglot is a no-code solution, which does not require development skills. This ease of implementation makes it possible to adopt an international strategy, even with limited resources. You can translate and localize your entire customer journey to provide a frictionless experience.

As Weglot points out, citing a CSA study, 76% of customers prefer to buy in their own language, and 40% would not buy from a site that is not in their native language.

Efficiency and speed

One of the main advantages of AI-assisted translation is the speed of the process. No more need to share all your content with a pool of translators, and to manage translation into several languages ​​simultaneously. If you have large amounts of content to translate, machine translation is essential. In just a few minutes, you can translate tens of thousands of pages into any language you want. Such a project takes months with teams of translators.

With a tool like Weglot, your multilingual sites are constantly updated. If content changes on your main site, all of your translated versions are updated instantly. Concretely, you do not have to have translators translate all your modified pages or your new content again, you just have to have them proofread.

Weglot also offers a translation management interface: centralization of all your translations, orders from professional translators, adding members of your team and translators, assigning tasks, etc.

A high level of quality and a much lower translation cost

Translating quickly is obviously important, but the central subject of machine translation is the quality of the content. The level of AI translation is today almost perfect, and the majority of translated content does not require human editing. For the rest, a simple proofreading is often sufficient for most content.

Machine translation has another significant advantage: its much lower cost, even for translation projects of several thousand pages in different languages.

Indispensable help for international SEO

A good SEO strategy is complex and requires perfect content optimization. Translation using Weglot’s AI makes it possible to translate the content of the pages, but also the various technical elements analyzed by Google: title tags, meta descriptions, etc. If these elements are not translated, Google or other search engines will not be able to correctly index your pages.

Weglot also allows you to automatically integrate hreflang tags so that Google displays the correct version of your website to visitors. Thanks to the tool, you no longer have to manage the tags yourself, and you thus avoid errors.

Human translation is not dead yet

Machine translation allows exceptional speed of execution and produces excellent quality content. However, AI can sometimes face some failures.

It may happen that the AI ​​gets some cultural specificities wrong and offers a text that lacks nuance. Idioms or puns may sometimes not be captured well. Emotions in a text such as humor or irony can also occasionally be mistransposed by the AI.

Machine translation tools are also inherently uncreative. If you want to translate marketing or advertising content, with a very specific tone, human translators will have a style that AIs do not have. Even if AIs are progressing, they still have difficulty adapting to a specific style, and will offer content that is less polished than human content.

To compensate for possible AI errors and guarantee the quality of your translations, it is possible to set up human proofreading, which Weglot offers, with automatic translation and the provision of post-editing tools. Concretely, you can manually modify all translated content, or have it proofread and corrected by professional translators before it is put online. Post-editing then makes it possible to add cultural nuances or details to publish clear and appropriate content.

Combining AI and human translation allows you to benefit from the best of both worlds. You benefit from the speed and efficiency of AI while publishing content that is accurate, human, and validated by a human being.