4 characteristics of top-tier online translation services

What exactly does excellence look like when it comes to online translation services? That’s exactly what you’ll learn in this comprehensive guide.


Whether you’re looking to translate a few blog posts to expand your SEO reach or are planning out a full localization strategy, the world of online translation services is vast.

From solopreneurs on Fiverr and Upwork to dedicated online translation agencies, you’ve got a lot of options to wade through.

But if you’re like our customers, you won’t want to settle for mediocre. When it comes to content translation, only excellence will do.

So what exactly does excellence look like when it comes to online translation services? That’s exactly what we’ll explore in this guide.

What does online translation excellence consist of?

Smartling has been in the translation services industry since 2009.

We’ve seen our fair share of less-than-ideal translation jobs from pop-up agencies and moonlight contractors, and we know what it takes to get translation right.

In our experience, top-tier online translation services share four key characteristics:

  1. Guaranteed quality
  2. Speed and precision
  3. Best-in-class human review
  4. Scalability through translation proxies

Let’s dive into each in more detail.

Characteristic 1: Guaranteed quality

The number one goal of any translation project is accuracy.

You want to feel confident that the content you translate is accurate, complete, and linguistically and grammatically correct.

It's unlikely that you’ll be able to check yourself since you probably don’t speak the language you’re translating into. As such, the best certified translation services are those that provide—and meet—quality assurance promises as part of their service offering.

For instance, at Smartling, we offer a 100% quality guarantee on all content we translate. That means we will work until you’re 100% happy. Smartling-translated content has an average Multidimensional Quality Metrics (MQM) score of 98, which surpasses the industry average of 95.

To achieve such high-quality translation, online service providers must have QA procedures built into their translation process, such as:

  • External third-party auditing
  • Real-time, AI-powered quality assessments
  • Dynamic AI workflows to make predictions and decisions and prep content for pre-translation
  • Automated or human-led post-editing processes

When cloud communications platform Dialpad approached Smartling, quality was a challenge. Weekly product releases were becoming increasingly difficult to manage with consistent quality.

Smartling’s 100% quality guarantee solved that issue and ensured that Dialpad delivered localized content on time, every time.

Read the case study: Smartling + Dialpad.

Characteristic 2: Speed and precision

Goal two for text and document translation is improving speed and efficiency while maintaining the aforementioned quality standards.

Even the best translation company isn’t going to be a good fit for your business if it can’t guarantee a fast turnaround time.

In our guide to the translation keys for businesses built on speed, we covered five core practices for maintaining both speed and precision:

Automate content collection and distribution Centralize translation team collaboration Translate and review in-context Customize translation workflows Embrace an agile mindset

On average, Smartling customers see a 52% faster time to publish than other translation providers. These five keys helped ultrasound solution Butterfly Network translate 75,000 words of content in just 10 days.

Get the case study: Smartling + Butterfly Network.

Characteristic 3: Best-in-class human review

Online translation service providers vary in how they balance human translation and machine translation (MT).

The best provider, regardless of their chosen mix of the two, will employ expert translators to take care of proofreading and reviewing. For instance, our AI-Powered Human Translation service pairs the best of AI neural MT engines with a linguist review by a real-life expert.

AI HT workflow graphic
*Smartling provides a 4-step, AI-powered human translation process for high MQM scores. (Source) *

This helps you deliver on speed and agility goals while ensuring that you meet quality benchmarks and maintain your brand standards.

Characteristic 4: Scalability through proxies

The final important characteristic of quality online translation services is the ability to quickly upscale website translation using a translation proxy, such as Smartling’s Global Delivery Network (GDN).

The GDN is like having multiple websites or landing pages in different languages without owning or maintaining several domains.

Let’s say your website is in English, but you’re expanding to target customers in Europe. Once you’ve configured the GDN, when someone in a European country visits your site, the English content flows instantly from the translation service and comes back as a localized version of your site in French, German, Italian, or Spanish.

The best translation proxies are SEO-compatible and even rewrite links so that users always stay on the localized version of your site.

Translation proxies like this are also perfect for translating between language pairs for which you’re less likely to find a capable human translator, such as from Russian to Chinese or from Swedish to Turkish.

When Kollective decided to expand into Europe and the Asia–Pacific region, it used Smartling’s GDN network to instantly deploy localized experiences without internationalizing its website code.

Of course, quality was still very much a focus. When Smartling’s linguists translated the site into Japanese, the internal correction rate was just 1.12%.

Get the case study: Smartling + Kollective.

Why choose Smartling’s online translation services?

Investing in a translation project is not something you should take lightly.

Rather, you should feel confident that the professional translation services you choose can provide accurate translations with a speedy turnaround.

With that in mind, let us introduce you to Smartling, our suite of online translation solutions.

At Smartling, we make translation work for you.

For example, you can use our translation proxy to automatically deploy localized websites. It’s the fastest and most cost-effective way to deploy a translated web experience.

Then, there’s Smartling’s Managed Services.

With our Managed Services, you can leave all of the day-to-day localization activities with us. From content and resource management to project administration and a white-glove approach to customer support, you’ll:

  • Reduce localization overhead
  • Improve translation quality
  • Cut your translation time

When AdRoll onboarded Smartling’s Managed Services, we cut its translation time in half.

Get the case study: How AdRoll cut their translating time by more than half.

Alternatively, you can use Smartling Translate, our GPT-enabled MT platform that allows you to produce instant, on-brand translations with a variety of MT engines and guaranteed privacy.

Or perhaps a middle-ground approach is what you’re after, in which case our AI-Powered Human Translation offering might be what you need. It's the perfect blend of human-led quality and AI-powered speed and scalability, backed by Smartling’s 100% quality guarantee.

Dive into our guide: The Complete Guide to Translation Services.

Staying ahead of the translation curve

The translation process is changing.

Just a few short years ago, your only viable options were to put up with a translation tool’s low-quality output or hire a dedicated translator who was fluent in your desired language pair.

AI’s growth and developments like MT and natural language processing have made speed and accuracy possible at the same time.

At Smartling, we’re staying ahead of the translation curve by:

  1. Developing an AI-powered approach to human translation
  2. Creating best-in-class MT
  3. Designing automated project management and dynamic workflows
  4. Leveraging AI for quality checks, data, and analytics
  5. Using large language models to power up post-editing

Dive deeper into artificial intelligence translation and learn how to harness the technology for growth.

Frequently asked questions

How much is an online translator fee? The cost of online translation can vary significantly based on factors like:

  • The original and target languages
  • Whether you’re using human translators or a translation tool
  • The type of content you’re translating
  • Whether or not you require specialized domain expertise
  • Your desired level of accuracy

A general range for professional content and document translation services is between $0.09 and $0.35 per word.

That means for a 1,500-word document—something like this blog post—you could pay as much as $525 to translate it from one language to another.

What translator is 100% accurate?

Finding a translation tool that is 100% accurate is difficult. Even top-rated solutions like DeepL struggle to measure up to this goal.

Generally speaking, a better approach is to combine AI-powered translation with expert linguist review and ensure that your service provider offers a quality guarantee, as is the case with Smartling’s AI-Powered Human Translation.

Is DeepL better than Google Translate?

DeepL is largely considered to be a more accurate tool than Google Translate.

However, it still has its drawbacks, most notably its limitations on document size and the number of languages it offers.

Learn more about DeepL and alternatives in our guide: 5 Machine Translation Software and When to Use Them.

Experience top-tier translation with Smartling

When it comes to finding online translation services to power your localization project, availability is not the problem. There is no shortage of quick and easy providers to translate content from one language to another.

Where things get complex is finding a translation service provider that can help you:

  1. Turn around translated content both quickly and accurately
  2. Provide quality guarantees that help you feel confident that your brand will come across as professional and local in any market

We’ve already dug deep into how Smartling delivers just that. All that’s left now is to get started yourself.

Experience top-tier online translation with Smartling's distinguished services.