Your guide to understanding website translation costs

By Acclaro
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Your guide to website translation cost

If you’re a business with customers abroad, you should be thinking about translating your website. 

But what’s the real cost of translating your website? Let’s flip the script: What’s the cost of leaving it untranslated? You could be missing out on a world of opportunity. 

​This guide will help you understand the costs involved in website translation, but more importantly, it will help you understand how to maximize your return on this crucial investment. 

Why is it imperative to translate your website?

The internet is a global marketplace, and speaking your customer’s language is not just a courtesy. It’s a differentiating factor that gives you a competitive edge over less globally-minded competition. Here’s what you gain when you invest in website translation:

  • Broader audience reach: By translating your website, you unlock doors to a wider audience. CSA Research found that 76% of online shoppers prefer purchasing in their native language, and 40% won’t buy from websites in other languages at all. 
  • Growth in web traffic: Multilingual websites attract more visitors. For example, when Neil Patel translated his website into different languages, his traffic increased by 47%. 
  • Multilingual SEO benefits: Translating content is the first step to gaining visibility on search engines globally. (But beware: you should never just translate your keywords.)
  • Increased brand awareness: A multilingual website showcases your brand’s commitment to your target markets, boosting your global presence.
  • Differentiation from competition: Localizing your content sets you apart from competitors who haven’t invested yet or who have translated their content already but it’s poor quality.
  • Higher conversion potential: Shopify reports a 13% increase in conversions for localized websites​​. Translating your site isn’t just about being understood; it’s about resonating with potential customers in a way that drives action.
  • Enhanced visitor experience: A translated website offers a superior user experience for visitors who speak other languages. Every time they have to click “translate this site” or puzzle over poor translations adds another layer of friction. A well-translated site encourages longer visits and deeper engagement.

Explore the key drivers of website translation costs

Done effectively, website translation is a complex process. It takes more than simply pressing a button to impress an international audience with content in their language and keep them coming back for more. Remember, this is a long-term investment in your business and your brand with the potential to increase your global engagement and market share.  

Each element of the process, from the choice of languages to visual design, adds layers to the investment required. Let’s explore the factors.

Target languages  

How many languages do you want to translate your website into, and which languages are you targeting?

Different languages and language pairs can significantly vary in cost. Some languages will require more investment because they are complex or rare. 

As with all translation projects, it’s not just about words. There are also cultural factors at play. For example, different cultures have different communication styles and preferences, and this influences what type of website design people from these cultures gravitate towards. In low-context cultures, like North American cultures, simple, uncluttered designs are considered appealing. 

On the other hand, high-context cultures (like Japan, China, and Arabic-speaking countries) tend to gravitate toward websites packed with visual elements and animations. If your target language is spoken by a high-context culture, your website design may need to shift accordingly.

Translation methods: MT vs human translation vs transcreation

Will you use machine translation, hire human translators, or use a mix of the two?

Even the most technologically advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine translation (MT)solutions are far from perfect, especially for nuanced, emotional, or highly branded materials, and machine translation by itself is rarely a suitable method for website translation. 

However, implemented strategically, it can speed up the process, allowing for a more efficient use of the money you invest in translation and making it easier to scale. 

Top quality often requires a blended approach, with machines and human linguists working together. 

High-impact copy, like marketing slogans, often needs to be crafted from scratch or recreated from the source by human experts to keep it culturally relevant and maintain the original emotional impact. This process is called transcreation. There’s also a range of options in between to suit different content types. The secret is knowing what translation approach to use and when to get the results you desire. 

Content type and volume

What type of content do you need to translate? How much of it is there? 

Website translation often involves content in different formats. Most of the work will be web page content in text format, including the core pages of your website, any landing pages, and blog posts. User interface elements like buttons, menu titles, and other navigational elements must be included as well, along with e-commerce elements like checkout pages. These often require translators with a strong understanding of user interface design to make sure the user experience is preserved during the translation process.

Also, certain types of web content may require a translator who is also a subject matter expert. For example, terms and conditions pages may need a translator with legal translation experience. Also, content types like software, marketing, user materials, or user-generated content can benefit from resources knowledgeable about the differences between them.  

Next, when considering volumes, don’t forget those supporting assets. These online assets, including whitepapers, ebooks, and videos, are often in different formats, like multimedia and PDF, that may require a different translation approach. Yet they need a language makeover too. This will impact the initial investment, but it can pay huge dividends if done strategically. For example, a single ebook localized from English to French generated $144,000 in annual recurring revenue for HubSpot. 

Higher volumes of content do require more resources, time, and cost, but innovative solutions and volume discounts are often available​ to alleviate those additional efforts.

Graphics and image requirements 

That hero image may need a makeover to appeal to visitors in your target market. The stock photography may need to be more diverse or showcase different settings or geographies. And if you have graphics that incorporate text, creating localized versions is a must to keep visitors from struggling to decipher the text.  

This demands additional resources and expertise, but it results in better performance. 

Turnaround time

Be aware of how long complicated projects take and allow enough time for it. Getting things done quickly often costs extra. There are a lot of moving parts in a website translation project, and the faster it has to be completed, the more resources and coordination are involved.  

Technology integrations

Keeping your website up to date in all languages can be a logistical challenge without the right technology. Implementing content integrations, APIs, and Translation Management Systems (TMS) can simplify and automate many of the tasks involved in maintaining a multilingual website. These tools may add to the amount of your investment, but they pay dividends in efficiency.  Imagine if you add pages or make changes to your site: technology can enable you to process translations to those changes quickly and effectively.  

Testing requirements

Broken buttons, links that lead to nowhere, and text that displays improperly…these are just a few of the things that can cause website visitors to hit the “back” button in any language. 

The reality is that translating websites can break things. So, testing the localized versions of your website is not only a worthy investment but also essential to catch any errors or bugs that could impact display or functionality and negatively impact the user experience. 

International SEO

Even if you’re crushing it on Google in the source language, there’s no guarantee that you’ll rank in the target language without a sound multilingual strategy. Here’s why: different markets have different search behavior. They may search for different terms, like how Americans would search for an ”apartment,” but Brits would search for a “flat.” They may use different search engines, which require different strategies. 

Investing in a well-crafted international SEO strategy improves web traffic and provides a higher return for your website translation endeavor. 

Unlock your global potential with expert web translation services

Most businesses don’t have all the tools and resources for website translation and localization in-house. Website localization is complicated and requires a lot of subject matter expertise in translation, testing, and technology.  But there’s no need to do it alone—an experienced website translation service will have all the ingredients for success on tap.

Here’s what to look for: 

  • A proven track record: Look for agencies with a portfolio that reflects their expertise – think case studies, glowing testimonials, and a history of success stories.
  • A wide network of local linguists: Work with an agency that can source local linguists with subject matter expertise in your target market. 
  • A focus on quality:  Look for an agency with a thorough quality-control process and QA guidelines that turn ‘good enough’ into ‘great.’
  • Experienced project managers who act as a single point of contact, guiding every step and simplifying complex processes.
  • Established technology integrations for smooth content transfers. 
  • The ability to work in any Translation Management System (TMS) so they can adapt to your needs, not the other way around.

Your website, worldwide: Take the next step

Translating your website is a strategic move towards global awareness of your brand and revenue growth. Yes, the investment is real, but so are the rewards: wider reach, deeper connections, a stronger global presence, and increased sales.

Remember, the right translation agency is key to unlocking this potential. Need a hand? Acclaro is here to help. We’re all about turning your website into a global conversation starter.

Ready for a world of opportunity? Contact us today!

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