I recently stumbled on a very exciting WordPress plugin – the Global Translator plugin!  This plugin automatically translates the content of your blog into 34 languages. According to the author, the most powerful features of this plugin are:

  • Four different Translation Engines: it has the ability to provide the translations by using Google Translation Engine, Babel Fish, Promt, FreeTranslations.com
  • Search Engine Optimized: it uses the permalinks by adding the language code at the beginning of all your URI. For example the english version on www.domain.com/mycategory/mypost will be automatically transformed in www.domain.com/en/mycategory/mypost.
  • Fast Caching System: new fast, smart, optimized, self-cleaning and built-in caching system. Drastically reduction of the risk of temporarily ban from translation engines.
  • Fully configurable layout: you can easily customize the appearance of the translation bar by choosing between a TABLE, DIV or IMAGE MAP based layout for the flags bar and by selecting the number of translations to make available to your visitors
  • No database modifications: Global Translator is not intrusive. It doesn’t create or alter any table on your database: this feature permits to obtain better performances.

This is a wonderful piece of innovation, not so? Just like many WordPress bloggers, I installed this plugin with the hope of multiplying the number of my posts in Search Engine indexes by 34 and hopefully increasing my traffic from non-English speaking countries tremendously. Three weeks later, I discovered that the amount of traffic from non-English speaking countries started increasing rapidly. But  I have now sadly uninstalled this plugin from my blog. And here are the four major reasons behind this action:

  1. While traffic from non-English speaking countries increased rapidly, the overall amount of traffic did not increase significantly. The bounce rate was also very high. My understanding was that with the increase of traffic from the non-English Speaking countries, I would be getting not less than twice my usual traffic but that was not the case. After carefully examining the traffic on my blog, I discovered that some of the posts that used to bring me a lot of traffic from Google were now no longer doing so. A  look at my pages pages indexed by Google and links to my site showed that the number of indexed pages had been reduced from 240 to 105 and links to my site had been reduced from 279 to 166 respectively. This led me to conclude that the Global Translator plugin was doing something fishy behind the scenes. Brooks and Mark A lamented about the same problem in their comments on John Chow’s post about this plugin. To which, Paul A responded by saying that Google do not treat translated pages as duplicate content. But the trouble comes when the translation service  errors out a 302 because of automated abuse. The spider gets served that and breaks the linking structure of your site and destroys any internal linking strategy you may be using. The collapse of the site’s linking that causes PR drop and other content to stop being indexed.
  2. Most of these translators are not that good. For in stance, I usually use the Google Translator in order to translate emails from Japanese to English and vice versa. Even though what I get is far from perfect  I understand that this translator is a work-in-progress. This, however, might not be the case with a visitor, from say Portugal, landing on your www.domain.com/pt/mycategory/mypost.He will not know that the page has been translated automatically and that the imperfections in the content are not necessarily coming from you but rather from the translator. Therefore, your online reputation is at  stake. Carlton Bale went through a funny experience which left me in stitches of laughter. He says a native-speaker de-translated the “about me” page of his site. It stated that his gender was “little man” and that he “really like young goats but don’t have them yet”.
  3. Not all the 34 languages in this plugin are supported by Google Adsense. If you do not limit the number of languages, you might get penalized by Google Adsense. lists the languages NOT supported by Google Adsense that you have to disable on the Global Translator Plugin to make your Google Adsense in full compliance with their TOS. Although this a good development, it erodes the benefits of the plugin by limiting the its capability and, consequently, the reach of your blog.
  4. Finally, but not least, Google MIGHT penalize your site thinking that you’re setting up mirror sites in order to artificially inflate the number of links to your site. Google is so clever. Maybe they have already implemented a system to detect new links created by this plug in. Google can easily detect this by noticing that the number of  pages on your site has increased by a factor of 34 in just one day.

In light of the four reasons, I have decided to unistall the Global Translator plugin from my blog until further notice.