Free Online Translation Tools: Is Free Always Better?

In today’s society of high demand for fast and cheap products and services, many people turn to free online translation tools because they are just that–fast and cheap! They are available for free because they are automated translations. They work by drawing on large databases of previously translated words which are programmed with algorithms in order to match translated words with those entered by the user. Some common online translation tools include: Google Translate and Bing Translator.


Online Translations–A Risky Business!

While it may seem the most convenient and cheapest option at the outset, what many people do not realize is that using online translation tools often ends up costing users a lot more money, time, and stress in the long run. If you are simply looking to translate a few words for personal knowledge, or use, you may find these tools useful. However, using these tools for professional or business purposes is very risky, and could end up costing you or your business a lot more than just money! You may have worked very hard build up the quality, recognition, and reputation of your product or service in local markets. However, if you are using a bad quality translation to reach out to customers in other languages, your product or service will appear low quality and your potential customers may not even take a second look. This is risk you run if choose to go with an online translation.


Some common problems with online translations are:

  • Literal Translations– Idioms, cultural phrases/sayings, and jokes are translated literally which often makes them incomprehensible.
  • Robotic Translations– A computer does not have command of the langue and this “robotic” feel will be reflected in the translation. The text will be devoid of any feeling and emotion.
  • Incomprehensible Translations– Bad Grammar, syntax, conjugation and sentence structure mean that it becomes very difficult to understand what is being relayed.
  • Lack of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Online translation tools do not have the capability to choose the correct keywords or phrases to help your website rank in online searches. If you are trying to reach out to new markets online, the importance of SEO and using proper keywords cannot be overemphasized.

Here are some real examples of the difference that online vs. professional translation can make. We chose a few sentence at random and tested them by entering them into some of the most commonly used online translation tools. We then shared the resulting translations with one of our translators in each respective language and asked them to comment on the quality of the translation. The results were quite interesting to say the least!

The tools we tested:

  • Google Translate (
  • Bing Translator (
  • SDL (
  • Wordlingo (
  • PROMT (

Each tool was tested for four languages: French, Spanish, Chinese, and Urdu.

Click on the links below to see the comparison in each language:

French (Canadian) Translation Comparison Chart

Spanish Translation Comparison Chart

Chinese Translation Comparison Chart

Urdu Translation Comparison Chart

If you would like to get started on your professional translation project, fill out our free quote request today!


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