Currently, 41.2% of the Internet uses languages other than English, and that number is growing. If you’re hoping to expand into new markets, or, do business in countries where they speak more than one language, website translation will help you do just that.
For many, the task of website translation doesn’t exactly sound like the easiest—or cheapest—of projects. And on top of that, the cost can be pretty expensive depending on the method you choose.
However, there are numerous options available depending on your budget, speed to market, and technical ability. Once you understand the different costs involved, you’ll be able to maximize your website’s reach by making it accessible in numerous languages.
So, in this article, we’ll take a look at several different website translation methods and give you an answer to the burning question, “How much does it really cost to translate my website?”
Why Should You Translate Your Website?
There are instances where website translation won’t be necessary for expanding your business. For example, if you’re a local business with a physical storefront, it won’t serve you to try and charm customers from across the world—unless, of course, you’re located in a touristic destination.
Additionally, depending on what you’re using your website for—like a personal blog—translating it when you don’t have enough international traffic might be over the top.
Of course, if you’re trying to make your website more accessible, connect to more audiences, and increase your conversions, you’ll benefit from translating your website. Fortunately, this is no longer the tedious feat it used to be—utilizing translation tools for your website will go a long way.
Website Translation Methods and the Costs to Expect
If you’re looking to translate your website, the first step in understanding the cost implications is to look at the translation process.
There’s no such thing as a multilingual website without the content, right? Choosing the right option for translation is critical to ensuring you stay on budget when working on reaching your target audience
There are four options to choose from:
Website translation software
1. Machine Translation
Let’s start with an obvious option: machine translation.
Within the last five years, the use of machine translation has seen a considerable increase in translation quality. Thanks to artificial intelligence, it’s returning incredibly accurate, high-quality translations. All in unbeatable turnaround time as well.
And, this is, of course, the most cost-efficient solution in the marketplace, especially if you have a large volume of words you want to translate. This is because translation costs usually scale with the number of words that will be translated.
Essentially, the use of a machine translation provider is completely free for your translation project—helping you save on the cost of website translation.
Anyone can enter content and receive a translation back. But—this is where the joy ends. The price point is great, yet the work involved is huge and often laborious.
For example, you can navigate to the Google Translate website: translate.google.com and enter the URL of your website in the text box. Select the language you wish to translate your website into and click the Translate button.
Your website is translated, but that’s it. You don’t have any control over the quality of your translations. And the big work is in proofreading the output and how you’ll actually copy and paste the content into a new multilingual website. Then there’s configuring your website to display it properly (which we’ll talk about later), and translating new or updated content—which you’ll all have to do manually through this method.
You may have seen the option to add a Google Translate toolbar to your website, which will clear up how you’ll display the content. Still, you don’t have any control over the translations.
Also, bear in mind there are no SEO capabilities at all through this method. Google won’t detect any of the translated content of your website; it essentially doesn’t exist anywhere. So your translated website will not appear in search engines. Then there’s the issue of website localization to make sure that the translated version of your website uses the references, terms, and symbolism of your target audience.
2. Manual Translation
Another straightforward translation option would be to translate your website manually. As the name suggests, it’s a manual option and you’d be responsible for taking the content of your website and translating it yourself.
Naturally, this method only makes sense if you speak the language you want to translate your website into, or if someone on your team does. Of course, that means there are some restrictions on what languages you can add since it relies on your language abilities and the source language you’re translating from.
The downside of this method is that it is incredibly time-consuming. It requires you to translate your website from scratch. If you consider an average website’s word count, you can quickly see how time-intensive this would be.
But, if you have a very small website that doesn’t need to be regularly updated, and you speak the language you want to add, then this could be an option.
3. Professional Translation
Another option is to use a professional translation service provider, like a translation company or agency (known as human translation). This solution will be the most costly because they are translating from scratch and providing you with highly accurate content.
The cost of professional translation also varies due to numerous factors.
To begin with, you’re looking at an average of $0.08-$0.25 per word rate. The reason for the variation is the following:
The difficulty of content translated – e.g. a hotel website vs a medical site would have a different cost due to the complexity of the content being translated
Language pairs –English to French, Spanish, German, or Portuguese will be less expensive than say English to Japanese or Chinese. There are simply more professional translators in the marketplace for European languages than there are for more complex languages
Time scale – the faster you want or need the translated content, the more expensive it will be
Text in pictures – new pictures will need to be created to include translated content
This option could work if you have a small website and only want to add one language. But think twice if you’re looking to add multiple languages as the translation rates will catapult, especially if you’re using a rare language pair.
The other downside is that for every new page of content or blog post you add, you’ll need additional translation support. When the average blog post can amount to 1,000 words, you can easily start to see how costly professional translation can be.
Another aspect to consider is the importance of working with competent translators and taking the time to onboard them onto your product. Otherwise, the translation agency may not get the tone right, depending on what you want to translate. It’ll be easier for them to translate the voice in blogs that touch upon industry topics, but may struggle when asked to translate company-centric content. For instance, they might use the formal ‘you’ in your translated content when your brand voice in your original language addresses your readers in a more friendly, casual way.
On top of that, there’s still some manual work from your side. You’ll need to supply a Word or Excel file of all the content on your website and liaise with a translator—so there’s translation file management on top of all that. You would also need to factor in project management on your side, to keep the project running smoothly.
The manual work doesn’t end there—you’ll have to watch out for repetitive translations as well. Website translation software with a glossary or translation memory could easily automate this and save you money. Otherwise, you’ll be paying the agency to translate the same phrases or sentences multiple times.
Cost of translation (dependent on website size): Starting from $1,200
Presenting the best of both worlds. Taking your website, using a website translation solution such as Weglot, and benefiting from speed, automation, and accuracy.
That’s because the way Weglot works is by automatically detecting all the content on your website and then translating it using a first layer of machine translation from top language service providers, like DeepL, Google Translate, and Microsoft Translator.
This means you have a fully translated website up and running in just minutes. You can then go into your Weglot Dashboard and make manual edits to all of your translations, add your own translators, or order work from professional translators.
Weglot allows you to control your translation quality by mixing all the options we mentioned above. This is really useful because there will often be parts of your website you can keep machine-translated and other pages, such as your homepage or product pages where you might want to benefit from the eyes of a pro translator.
Plus, you can select translations and mark them as pending for your team members to review and approve accordingly—eliminating even more back-and-forth within your team.
When you’re considering your options, you also need to think about what solution is going to grow with you.
A combination of machine, manual, and professional translation means you won’t be relying on translation agencies or other website translation services every time you add a new page to your website. Any new page will automatically appear in your chosen language. You can then decide if you want to fine-tune the translations further.
What’s more, Weglot’s user-friendly dashboard gives you all the translation management features you need, so there are no manual back-and-forth spreadsheets needed.
Additionally, Weglot’s time-saving Translation Memory (available for Extended and Enterprise plans) simplifies managing your translations. When you use the translations list to edit translation strings, this feature will display similarly made translations, whether manually or professionally made.
Costs: machine translation software Weglot* + 10,000 words of professional translation would be €1280.
*Business Weglot package: 50,000 words automatically translated into 3 target languages(€290/ year)
The Technical Side of Website Translation
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are two aspects to consider in translating your website. We covered the translation side, but now we’ll look at the technical side and how you’ll display your translations.
In simple terms, how are you planning on displaying your newly translated content? And what is the number of words you’re aiming to translate?
The two main solutions we’re highlighting:
One website that displays multiple languages
Let’s review these.
1. Multiple Websites
By this, we mean creating a new website for each new language you want to display. Sounds like a big task, right?
Well, you’d be correct. This is no small project. Got in-house developers? Great, they’ll be working on this for the next few months (depending on the size and complexity of your website requirements).
No in-house developers? Then expect to pay anything from $50-$150 an hour for the use of a developer.
The gravity of the task is daunting. So it probably works better if you want to create a small website in a different language, with content that is very different from your main website. Like landing pages in French and Italian, with simple contact forms to match your French and Italian leads.
It’s not a great solution if you need your whole website duplicated into a new language.
There are many limitations to this one, even if you’re just going for the basic option of translating selected pages. You’ll need to consider the upkeep costs of managing a second website. This is both in terms of translation costs and time.
You could, of course, go for a simple managed website like Squarespace or Wix. But don’t forget to consider the cost of maintaining all those websites over the years. You’ll need to duplicate technical changes like updates, design tweaks, and any upgrades across the websites – plus you’ll need to separately update any changes in each language.
Costs: Translation pricing will cost you anywhere from €500-€30,000
2. One Website Displaying Multiple Languages
What if I told you there was a solution that meant you didn’t need to create a whole new website to display your newly translated content?
That’s exactly where website translation software comes in. You read about how it can help in terms of translating the content of your site, but the even better part is it will take care of displaying the content too.
Using translation software is a fast and effortless way to translate and display your website content in minutes, to give you a multilingual website.
However, there are different types of website translation software. There are those where you have to do everything yourself and are generally quite complicated to maintain, or automated solutions, such as Weglot.
Many competitor solutions actually require the manual creation of each translated page, making the process a lot less seamless.
That’s exactly what smartbike developer and designer Angell Mobility encountered when they were tasked with co-creating and debuting MINI’s first e-bike. They initially wanted to launch the e-bike’s website through multiple country-specific storefronts on Shopify. However, they quickly realized how time-consuming this would be.
So, at the recommendation of Shopify agency Stellar Projects, they went with Weglot to launch a multilingual store in German, Italian, and English in addition to the original French. Weeks after the initial launch in France, the MINI E-bike 1 successfully became an international venture.
Another reason they picked Weglot was because of how easy it was to onboard and use, and that’s the best part of our solution: No developers and no coding are required. WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, Wix…actually any website can be integrated with Weglot’s automated translation solution.
We’ve worked on developing a translation solution that does not impact your site speed, removes hours of work, and allows you to manage your website translations.
And that word again – SEO. With Weglot, your newly translated content is properly indexed on Google, allowing your new customers to search and find you in their language.
Cost: You can trial Weglot for free. Plans start from €15 a month.
Website Translation Cost: Recap of Your Options
You’ve seen the options, and hopefully, we’ve managed to show you there are solutions to making your website translation easier, so you can have a multilingual website up and running quickly.
Let’s do a quick summary:
Machine translation is free but there’s no quality control and this can lead to hiccups when dealing with localization
Manual or translation is time-consuming and can only work for small websites where you know the languages
Professional translation is timely, has high-cost implications, and needs to be repeated whenever you add new content. Your workflow is less automated which can lead to bigger time constraints
Website translation software is a good option for speed, accuracy, and multilingual SEO
Creating multiple websites to display content equals high costs in terms of both time and budgets
Weglot – detects, translates, and displays your website content and translates your website without the need for multiple websites or developers
Ready to see what a multilingual website looks like? Sign up for Weglot’s 10-day free trial and get started on reaching your international target audience!
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