Auto-translation is often quite awkward.
I've found that if the users can read English, they will not go out of their way to translate it to their native language.
That said, from personal experience, if I can't find an English version of a foriegn page, and I need the information from the page, I will translate it.
Plus auto-translaters usually return gobblygook to people who are fluent in that language.
Numerous times I have used some auto translaters to translate from english to german, shown it to someone who lives in germany, and they havent a clue what its about :)
Auto-translators simply don't work..
Having your site in different languages however does..
If you have a business case to justify this and international customer base then pay for the human translation and create seperarte pages..
Machine translation will only give the gist of your content. It won't likely be accurate or very legible. People use this as a last resort when a properly translated version of your content is unavailable.
Thank you for the responses.
I have a better idea of how the translations are, and if they are popular.
You don't want to simply "translate" your content into another language, you need to rewrite it into something that fits in with their culture and way of doing things.
For example, your English page about Christmas wouldn't be translated into Chinese, but replaced by a page all about the Chinese New Year.
My French is just about sufficient to read a menu and order a meal but I can still tell that autotranslation of my site is total rubbish.
If a second language is required then rewriting by somebody fluent in the language is better than translation as anybody who has tried to read the manual for any electronic product made in the Far East will know already.
I hear what you guys are saying about the auto-translation of English into another language on a search engine not being the greatest.
But I would also like to know, if there is someone in Germany using Google Germany or someone in France using Google France and they do a search and find your site and it is in English, how likely are they to autotranslate into their native language or are they more likely to view the site in English? Also, if you can tell me what you think people in Asian nations are likely to do? View your site in English or autotranslate to their native language?
I appreciate your feedback.
If they've got the SERPs set to show only their own language then your English site probably wouldn't be on their radar at all.
If you want to target a language market you should just forget about auto-translation altogether.