An SEO Nightmare. Why did Google drop Worldlingo?

Worldingo is a pioneer in the field of online translation. Worldlingo was the first company to sell online translation services powered by machine translation. This included email translation, website translation and text translation. Worldlingo was also the company that powered text translation in early versions of Microsoft Office, before MS started to use their own MT. Worldlingo was the first company that powered translations on the EU Patent website, Espacenet. Due to this prowess in the field of automatic translation, Worldlingo owned the SERP rankings for years. Worldlingo came up in the top 3 in pretty much every search query done in Google and the other search engines.

Worldlingo initially used Systran Enterprise Server version 5 software for their translations. In 2009, Worldlingo switched MT suppliers and started to use Language Weaver software. This allowed them to add many more languages. It also helped boost traffic to their website.

But something bad happened to Worldlingo in March 2011: they lost over 60% of their Internet traffic overnight. The Alexa chart below needs no analysis, it speaks for itself.

Worldlingo Alexa ranking 2011

Why did this happen? The answer is simple: Google downgraded Worldlingo, pushing them much lower on the SERPs. Search engine traffic tanked and Worldlingo has yet to recover.

Why did Google downgrade Worldlingo? I think I have an answer to that too. At the end of 2009, Worldlingo came up with a ‘great’ idea. They created a vast Multilingual Archive by translating millions of Wikipedia articles using machine translation (read more about it here). Google got wind of this and penalized Worldlingo. The decision made by Worldlingo to machine translate and index millions of Wikipedia pages has cost them dearly.

The bottom line: you can mass translate non-original content with MT, as long as you don’t infringe any copyrights, and get away with it for a while. But eventually the search engines will catch on and penalize your site. Machine translating your own website is another matter. This is usually not a massive amount of content and all of the content is original. The best solution from an SEO perspective is to translate your content professionally. If you need to use MT to translate your content, try to post-edit it for enhanced clarity and to avoid SEO damages. If you have a WordPress website, you can use our GTS Translation plugin for post-editing machine translation and get good results.

2 thoughts on “An SEO Nightmare. Why did Google drop Worldlingo?

  1. Interesting take on the subject but have you considered the translation is the same as the original text except in a second or third language.

    If the Google algorithms or robots and spiders translate the content of pages, the content will read the same or so similar that the new pages will look like a mirrored web page. Google have established that Wikipedia are the lead site so will devalue/reject the content of the mirrored page in their rank calculations. I have come across this situation with a number of translation company websites we have worked on and have translations for a number of languages for each of their webpages.

    To get back to the original rank position World Lingo should revert to the original site and then work on developing original content, link building and general promotion.

    Great ideas often mess things up!

    Kind regards

    Nigel T Packer

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