The world is growing smaller as technology advances and we become more connected. The US Census Bureau reports that at least 350 languages are spoken in US homes. With such a wide range of language diversity, the need for translation is definitely prevalent even for domestic businesses. With this in mind, it should be no surprise that the growth rate in the translation industry has been increasing and was at 6.46% last year. Here are some overall trends you might see in the translation industry in 2016.
Consolidation. Mergers and acquisitions are popular right now. Larger translation companies have been adding fast-growing, specialty language service providers to extend their range of services. There also seems to be more outside interest in terms of investor popularity.
Voice-based content. This isn’t necessarily a new trend, but one that will continue to grow along with the growth of video. Many companies simply will not have the resources to re-create video content in multiple languages, so the need for subtitling and voice-overs will remain important.
Value vs. price. The value of a language service provider will be regarded higher than flat out price. Translation companies that establish their credentials and show themselves as partners in the global marketplace will have more negotiating power and leverage.
From a digital standpoint, here are some trends you will likely see playing out in the translation industry.
Serious benefits. Research from the Common Sense Advisory found that “ a full 63% of global brands recently reached more customers by increasing the number of languages on their websites…[but] 37% of the leading brands still haven’t gotten the memo.” This confirms that companies that take their foreign-language customers seriously and make an effort to provide content for them in their native languages will be awarded with a tremendous opportunity to push ahead of the competition.
Multi-lingual web content. The demand for multi-lingual web content will drastically increase. Currently, 53.6% of web content is in English. The next most popular language is Russian at 6.4%. That leaves hundreds of thousands of web users who can’t read much of the web content that English speakers take for granted. Even if somebody speaks English as a second language, fluency level varies and most people prefer to conduct business in their native languages. With China and India in particular growing their internet population, the need for translated content is just going to continue to increase.
Multi-lingual SEO. Multi-lingual SEO will become essential. Translating web content is great, but what good is it if people can’t find it? It doesn’t matter if your website comes up on Google’s first page in English if you’re targeting other languages. This is where multi-lingual SEO comes in, which involves more than simply translating your keywords. You can learn more about international SEO here.
Mobile optimization. Mobile optimization will become crucial. By now, most companies realize that how their website looks to mobile users is important. This extends beyond English websites. According to the International Data Corporation, 3.2 billion people will have Internet access this year, and more than 2 billion of these Internet users will use a mobile device. Therefore, you must consider display on mobile devices and tablets.
Machines vs. human translation. Use of machines will increase, but not come out ahead. As the demand for translation increases, so will the use of machines. However, translating web content, marketing copy, etc. doesn’t boil down to a simple word-for-word translation that you would get from a machine. In order to convey a brand’s identity and the appropriate message, a human needs to interpret what is being said – beyond the actual words – and then find the right way to say it in the target language. For more on machine vs. human translation, visit our blog.
Peter founded Argo Translation, originally based in Milwaukee, WI, in 1995. Prior to transferring his love of all things international and his savvy business expertise into Chicago’s premier translation agency, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he graduated with a major in finance and human resource management. After graduation he went on to become an Italian translator and project manager for an international medical equipment manufacturer and major airline.