Legal Marketing & Web Design Blog

Monday, July 23, 2012

Automated Translation on Your Attorney Website May Actually Do More Harm than Good

¿Habla español? Parlez-vous français? If your office is multilingual, it’s a good idea to include website content in all of the languages that you speak so that you can effectively reach and connect with all prospective clients, not just English-speakers. Ideally, your firm should have a separate website in each language or, at the least, several pages devoted to the different languages you (or your staff) speak. Many firms, however, do not have the time to undertake the translation of site content so they rely on plugins like Google Translate which can be added to the firm’s website and will translate site content once a visitor selects his preferred language. Although convenient, these automated translation services can be detrimental to your business development goals.

The translation is technical, not intelligent.
Unfortunately, “machine” language translation is an aspect of artificial intelligence that has not yet been mastered. These translations are highly flawed, often producing poorly constructed sentences that fail to convey the intended meaning. For site visitors who do not know English, this can be incredibly frustrating and may cause them to rule your firm out immediately. After all, would you hire an attorney who doesn’t seem to speak fluently or write proficiently in your native language?

Google will not recognize the translated text
Most non-English speakers will search for an attorney in their native languages. When using an automated translation tool on your site, the translated content is not indexed by the search engines meaning that none of this information will be found by prospective clients. In order to ensure that non-English speakers are able to find your website, it is critical that you have all translated text within a permanent page on your site.

The following sites are great examples of how a single firm can have two unique websites with translated content and have both sites strategically linked for maximum exposure to multiple target audiences:

Aguirre Law, APC – Note the “Español” link in the top left hand corner of the site which brings the visitor to a site entirely in Spanish.

Marzano & Sediva –As with the previous link, this international law firm links its main English site to a supplemental site entirely in Italian.

Koehler & Isaacs LLP –This full service law firm serves the large Portuguese community in NYC and has created a mirrored site which features all of the content (even the scrolling verdicts) in Portuguese.

Fully translating all of the content on your site can be time consuming but the end result will be more visibility and greater credibility with prospective clients. To help firms effectively engage all prospective clients online, Zola Creative is pleased to offer custom content solutions and professional translation services for law firms across the country. Please contact us to learn more.