I recently read an old article in the SpanishLegalTranslation blog about fuzzy matches. For those that do not know what this refers to, “Fuzzy matches” are those phrases recognized by a CAT (Computer-Aided Translation) tool as being similar to but not the same as a previously translated sentence that is stored in a translation memory. As Reed D. James points out in his post, fuzzy matches may greatly improve your productivity., specially in his field, which is legal translation.
Now, I’ve used CAT tools for technical translations – a whole bunch of them. Fuzzy matches can indeed greatly help your performance when you translate documents. But when I finished this article I remembered that unfortunately this is not true for website translation.
Why is this? For one simple reason: You want the translated website to score well in the search engines, and therefore you will need to perform on-page SEO. This means therefore that each page needs to be different, and targeted for specific keywords. You cannot just reuse text from other pages, because you need to tweak it sufficiently to score in the search engines for a set of selected keywords. What is a benefit in traditional translation is a handicap in website translation – actually it goes so far that you could be penalized by the search engines for duplicate content!
This does not mean that you cannot use CAT tools for website translation – only that it is not a good idea, as later you will have to change the translated text later on, so as to ensure good ranking on the web pages. So I am always amazed when translation agencies ask we about “repetitions” and “fuzzy matches” for web pages. But then, most of the time they don’t have a clue, and believe that website translation is “just” another translation…