Have you ever stumbled upon a webpage written in a different language than what you natively can read or speak? As the web grows bigger and bigger every day, it’s no surprise that more and more people from all over the world are trying to own a small piece of that web. This is most prominent and can be most easily seen in blog creations. One of the easiest methods of owning a piece of the web is to create a blog/site of your interest. Similar to what I have done here on AnotherWindowsBlog, millions of others out there have similar sites that generate information on various topics. However, it’s not possible to write in all the different languages used in today’s society! In order to reach the broadest audience possible, we must use language translation services.
Being able to quickly and easily convert from one language to another on a website helps bring people of all nationalities together. There are no doubt many different language translation services being offered today but I like things that are simple and yet efficient. I’m not an HTML expert and so coding is not what I want to do. Luckily, both Google and Microsoft comes to the rescue. When you visit a website that is in a different language, you are bound to look for a translation button. There are many different ways to convert that foreign website into a language you are more familiar with. Many users may already know firsthand how to convert a website to a different language. Being as how English is a widely used language, there are still many people in the world that aren’t fluent in it, however. These users no doubt need to have translation tools at their fingertips at all times.
I’ve no doubt seen many different translation services offered on a blog. From dropdown menus to clicking on little country flags that represent your native language, these services all tie in to mainly Google’s translation service. For example, clicking on the China flag will invoke Google to translate that webpage for you into Chinese characters. This can happen either on the same page or on a new tab within your browser. One of the most efficient methods I have seen, however, is in how the Google Chrome browser detects different languages within websites. If your browser is currently set to the English language and you stumble upon a site that is anything other than that, you’ll get a nice little notification allowing you to automatically translate that site into English. In my opinion, this is one of the most useful features on a browser and something that Firefox and Internet Explorer lacks by default.
As you can tell, this happens almost automatically and the user does not have to do a thing besides confirming to go ahead with the translation. The best part is that the translation happens directly on that same webpage! The words will magically change to the language your are translating to. If you haven’t seen this in action before, you’re sorely missing out! This action minimizes interference between the user and the webpage as they aren’t required to view the page in a new tab or window. The bad news is that not everyone uses the Google Chrome (or Chromium) browser. Therefore, if you want your blog to reach the widest audience as possible, you’ll need to incorporate some type of language translation service on your own.
Google Translate and Microsoft Translator Widget
Like I said earlier, there are many different ways for you to help a foreign visitor get the most out of your blog. In my honest opinion, I like the behavior of what I’ve described above with the Chrome browser. Therefore, I’m going to talk about how you can also apply that same language translation service right within your own blog absolutely free of charge. By implementing one of this service, it wouldn’t matter what browser your visitor is viewing your blog with because the translation service is now baked within your site and is not dependent on the browser itself. Trust me, this is some really cool stuff!
I know that many reading are probably wondering why I don’t just use a plugin. Technically, there are dozens among dozens of offered plugins that help to translate my blog. However, I tend to try and stay away from plugins whenever possible. Not that they are bad (one main reason I moved to WordPress was due to plugins offered) but for something so simple, I find that both Google and Microsoft have offered a brilliant solution with only a few lines of code. The translation is all done on their side of things and so there really isn’t any special settings or configuration I need to perform afterwards.
Seriously, is there anything that Google can’t do?! The Google Translate service offers any blog creator to easily use their rich language translation services for free. All it takes is a little customization and some code pasting.Simply head over to the Google Translate webpage here and click on the Website Translator link at the bottom. You’ll then be taken to a site where you can modify your translation settings. Let’s go through each of the steps.
Step 1: Here you specify where the translation should occur within your site. You have the options of translating your entire site or just a portion of it. In my opinion, you’ll want to leave it at the default of translating the entire site.
Step 2: Simply select the language your are currently using on your site. For me, it would be set to English.
Step 3: You definitely want to see the optional settings so click on the link here. First you’ll get to choose specifically what languages are offered to be translated into on your site. For example, if you know that the majority of your visitors are Chinese speakers and readers, then you can limit the options to just this language. However, it’s best to just leave this to the default of all languages. This covers all of your potential visitors. You can select the Specific Languages radio button to view the list of all the languages that Google offers. Quite impressive!
Under the Advanced section, you’ll have three options. The first should be selected if you have opted for the Automatic display mode mentioned above. The second option allows you to specify whether your page contains more than one language. Typically this is not needed but it’s nice for Google to have that option. Lastly, you can track translation usage on your blog by implementing Google Analytics.
Step 4: The code snippet shown in the box is what you will need to copy and paste into your blog. This is typically the hardest part of the procedure, especially if you are using WordPress. The script code needs to be inserted into your blog’s header.php or footer.php file. Technically, you can also paste this code into a Text/HTML widget but because we have opted to not display a Google Translate widget, it might look weird as it will be blank. If you are absolutely stuck on not knowing where to add the code, then choose a display mode other than Automatic and then pasting the code again into a sidebar widget. However, this will display the Google Translate widget. Blogger users can simply click on the Add to Blogger button.
Microsoft Translator Widget
Microsoft also offers a very cool language translation service for your blog free of charge as well. The behavior of the widget functions very similar to Google Translate.Simply head over to the Microsoft Translator Widget webpage here to get started.
Step 1: First you’ll need to specify your website’s URL and primary language.
Step 2: You also have the option of whether to display the Microsoft Translator widget or not. Unlike Google, you don’t have any options whatsoever style wise, but you do get to choose different colors for the widget to match the theme of your site along with the width of the widget. Under Translation Settings, you have three options of Manual, Notify and Auto. With Manual, your visitors are required to use the widget to select the language for translation. With Notify, this will alert the user if their browser’s language is set to a language other than what you have specified for your site. The user will see a toolbar at the top of the site and will be able to confirm the translation into their language. With Auto, Microsoft will automatically perform the translation for the user without any intervention.
Step 3: Once you are satisfied with your selection, head to the very bottom of the page (skip the Collaborative Translations section), select the agreement checkbox and hit the Generate Code button. Again, you can select to copy and paste the code in a widget in your WordPress blog but if you choose not to display the widget, it might look weird as it will be blank. However, if you’re not sure of how to manually insert the code into a template file, you’ll have no choice.
Testing your New Translation Service
Once you have implemented the translation service of your choice, it’s now time to actually test it! Technically, it’s hard to test it as is because your browser is configured for the language of your blog. In my case, English. Therefore, browsing to my site will not cause the translator to automatically give me a notification to translate the page. However, if you have chosen to display the actual widget, manual translation is of course possible. To see the notification popup, you’ll need to do a little tinkering.
Open up Internet Explorer and hit the settings button. Then select the Internet Options menu option.
Next, select the Languages button towards the bottom.
In the Language Preference window, you should see your native language. Take note of it and select the Remove button. In my case, I’m removing English (United States). Next, hit the Add button. In this huge list, select a language other than what is used for your blog. Of course, the language you select here also needs to be compatible with what the Google or Microsoft translation service offers. In my case, I’m going to select Vietnamese. Once you have made your selection, restart Internet Explorer.
Simply head back to your website and watch the magic happen. Google/Microsoft should notify you with a toolbar/message stating that you can translate the website into your native language. Very cool!
Once you are done playing around with this, don’t forget to readjust your Internet Explorer settings back to the way it was!
Don’t Miss this Opportunity
You can clearly see how easy and quick it was to offer translation services directly within your blog. It would be sad if you lost even just one visitor on your site due to language barriers, especially if the visitor could have benefitted greatly from the information you have written. I loved how Google Chrome helps with language translation on any site you visit because not everyone will speak English or whatever language the website is written in. Just because people have not conquered your language does not mean that they should miss out on what you have to offer! With that being said though, I’m sure you understand that a robotic translation service is not going to be as efficient as a human translator but hey, something is better than nothing right? While Google Chrome offers users a quick and automatic way to translate web pages all without any user intervention or extension download, you can’t expect all your visitors to be using this browser. Although there are dozens and dozens of browser extensions dealing with language translations in Firefox, you also can’t rely on your readers to have one of those installed. What you can do however is adding a direct method of helping your readers on your blog to overcome the language barrier problem. Trust me, your visitors will appreciate your blog that much more, even if they don’t outright tell you so!I think I’ll be sticking with the Google Translate option over Microsoft Translator. There were some languages I’ve played around in Internet Explorer that the Microsoft Translator service failed to detect and therefore, did not present the notification for translation. The same language had no problems when Google Translate was involved.