Website Translation Costs: How to Calculate and Manage Them

Translation
Kateryna Hanko
01 Jun 2024

10 min. read

Contents

The internet transcends borders, allowing 57% of online shoppers to shop internationally. Clearly, if your website is available in a single language, you can’t fully capitalize on cross-border sales.

Before you open your virtual doors and usher in international customers, learn about website translation costs and the factors influencing them. Our guide will also help you properly budget your website localization expenses and offer tips on minimizing them.

Pro tip: Streamline your website translation process and reduce translation costs with a professional localization platform—Centus.

How much does it cost to translate a website?

Website translation costs fall into three categories: per word, per page, and per hour. Per-word pricing offers clear upfront estimates, ranging from $0.08 to $0.30. Per-page prices vary from $25 to $50. Per-hour prices range from $15 to $75.

To put this into perspective, let’s calculate the translation cost for a website containing 10,000 words. At $0,08 per word price, the total cost would amount to $800.

The hourly rate cost would depend on the time required to translate content, which can vary significantly based on its complexity and the translator's efficiency. With an average translation speed of 300 words per hour, the cost of translating a 10,000-word website would range from $500 to $2,500.

Pro tip: Using translation management systems, like Centus, you can substantially reduce translation costs. Instead of translating the website from scratch, translate it automatically and assign it to your team for manual review.

Centus editor

Factor influencing your website translation price

Website translation pricing can be influenced by a variety of factors. These include the amount of content you have, the type of content, and the specific languages you're targeting, amongst other things. Each of these elements adds to the complexity and resource requirement of the translation process, which in turn affects the overall price.

Understanding cost-making factors can help you make informed budgeting decisions. Let’s break them down.

Content size and complexity

A 10-page website with 5,000 words will naturally cost less than a 50-page behemoth with 20,000 words. This might seem straightforward, but the complexity of your content adds another layer to the equation.

Imagine two 1000-word websites: one filled with casual blog posts, the other packed with legal documents or medical jargon. Translating the latter will likely cost more. Why? It requires highly-trained translators closely familiar with the terminology and nuances involved.

As a rough guide, you can expect:

  • Basic website content: $0.05 - $0.10 per word. This covers standard blog posts, product descriptions, and general information pages.
  • Marketing texts: $0.10 - $0.20 per word. This applies to copywriting, marketing materials, and content requiring precise language and understanding of specific marketing and technical concepts.
  • Legal and technical content: $0.15 - $0.35 per word. This includes legal documents, medical texts, or industry-specific technical content. Technical translation rates are higher than average because they demand expert translators and in-depth knowledge of the subject matter.

If your website includes multimedia elements like images with text, videos with subtitles, or interactive features that need translation, this can further add to the cost. These elements often require additional services like subtitling, voice-over work, or graphic editing. It's not uncommon to have separate pricing structures for these elements, often calculated on a per-hour or per-project basis.

Remember, your specific project may differ based on the language pair and chosen translation agency. However, they offer a solid starting point for understanding how content plays a crucial role in shaping your translation quote.

Language pairs

While the content itself reigns supreme in shaping your translation quote, the language pair also plays a crucial role in cost calculations. Different language pairings present differing levels of accessibility and complexity, translating (pun intended) into varied rates.

  • Common languages: Translating between widely spoken languages like English and Spanish is generally more affordable. This stems from a larger pool of available translators and readily available translation resources.
  • Rare languages: Translation into less common languages like Hungarian or Icelandic requires specialized skills and limited resources, consequently driving up costs due to translator expertise and the potential need for research.
  • Demand and supply: Languages with high demand, such as Chinese or Arabic, attract a larger pool of translators but also face significant competition for their skills, potentially leading to higher translation service rates. Languages with lower demand might be cheaper or costlier depending on the rarity of the language.

Languages rich in subtle cultural references and idiomatic expressions often necessitate translators with deep cultural understanding. This specialized knowledge can increase translation service prices compared to more straightforward languages.

Even within the same language, regional variations can affect cost. For instance, translating into Latin American Spanish might differ in cost from translating into European Spanish, due to differences in terminology and usage.

The table below shows an average website translation cost for common language pairs, based on ProZ pricing: website translation costs

Translation quality

This choice of human, machine, or hybrid translation directly impacts the accuracy and cost of your translations, so choosing wisely is key.

Professional human translation

This involves skilled linguists translating your content. It's the most accurate method and is ideal for complex or nuanced content.

Translation rates per word range from $0.08 to $0.30. This range can vary based on language pair, content complexity, and translator expertise.

Machine translation

Machine translation, like Google Translate or DeepL, uses AI algorithms to translate text. This method is faster and cheaper but less accurate, especially for specialized content.

Often free or very low-cost ($0.01 - $0.05 per word) for basic options. Premium machine translation features can cost a few hundred dollars annually. Don’t forget to factor in the potential need for significant post-editing to achieve accuracy.

Note that even though DeepL is rated higher than Google Translate in most linguistic categories, Google is better at translating ambiguous words. Thus, DeepL is better suited for technical translation and Google Translate fares better in marketing translation. Google vs DeepL translation quality comparision

Hybrid translation

A combination of machine and human translation. First, a machine does the initial translation and then a human translator reviews and corrects it. It can also cover instances where a translator uses CAT tools to manage their translations. This balances cost and quality.

Hybrid options can significantly lower the professional translation services price. Exact prices depend on the extent of human involvement but expect to pay less than full human translation rates while achieving better accuracy than machine translation alone.

These cost ranges are averages and can vary depending on the specific requirements of your translation project.

Delivery timeframe

Normal translation projects adhere to standard timelines and pricing. However, when translations are needed urgently, the scenario changes. Rush translations invariably incur higher costs. This is due to the additional resources and overtime work required to complete the translation within a shorter period. It's a trade-off between speed and cost, where expedited services come at a premium.

1. Standard delivery

This option allows adequate time for meticulous translation, editing, and proofreading, delivering high-quality results within a typical range of 7-15 business days.

Expect budget-friendly pricing within the existing cost ranges for your chosen quality level (human, machine, or hybrid).

2. Rush translation:

For translations needed faster than the standard timeline, expect an increase in cost. This increase can range from about 10% to 50% above the standard rates, though it varies based on the urgency, the translation agency, and the project's complexity.

Additional expenses

There are special services that can affect the overall cost of website translation. These services add layers of complexity and require additional expertise, which in turn influences pricing. They include website localization, SEO, and even your website structure recommendations.

Website localization

This involves adapting the website content to the cultural norms and preferences of the target audience. This includes not just language, but also images, units of measure, date formats, currency, and more.

How much do localization services cost? The average cost is around $0.40 per word due to the need for specialized knowledge in cultural nuances and possibly additional graphic design or web development work.

SEO

If you want to maintain or improve your search engine rankings despite translating into different languages, you must do SEO. This includes keyword research and adaptation in the target language, along with the translation of meta tags and descriptions.

Implementing SEO in multiple languages can add to your web translation cost, due to the need for specialized skills in SEO and the target language.

Website structure for multilingual content

The way your translated content is displayed on your multilingual website can vary. You might have separate websites for each language (e.g., example.fr for French and example.de for German) or use subdirectories/subdomains within one website (like example.com/fr/ or fr.example.com).

Separate websites for each language might involve higher costs due to the need for development, individual language updates, ongoing maintenance, and SEO for each site. While subdomains under one website are often more cost-effective.

Translation services

If you think you’re going to have significant, ongoing translation needs, then setting up an in-house translation team might be a viable option. However, this involves hiring costs, and may not be feasible if you are expanding rapidly. This means you may have to look for external providers for your website translation. The type of provider you choose can significantly impact the website translation services cost. Here's an overview:

1. Freelance professional translators

Freelancers are individual translators offering services in specific language pairs and fields. They are a good choice for smaller or medium-sized projects and often offer competitive rates. However, their capability to handle large-scale or highly specialized projects might be limited.

The cost for freelancers typically ranges from $0.05 - $0.25 per word, though this can vary based on the translator's experience and the complexity of the language pair.

2. Professional translation agencies

Translation agencies provide comprehensive services including translation, project management, localization, and quality assurance. They are better suited for larger or more complex projects that require a team of translators and additional services.

Agencies are generally more expensive than individual freelancers, with the rates for translation services ranging from $0.10 - $0.30 per word. They might also offer project-based pricing, which can be more cost-effective for extensive translation needs.

3. Other niche providers

Providers specializing in specific industries or types of content, such as technical, legal, or medical translations, offer expertise in their respective fields.

These services are often more expensive due to the specialized knowledge required but are essential for industry-specific content. The costs are highly variable and typically higher than general translation rates.

How to save on website translation

Website translation can become expensive quickly, but you can save up to 90% with careful planning and the right tools.

Rather than manually translating the entire website, automate the process using a localization management platform. After batch translation, refine content with the help of human editors. Finally, arrange a professional review to weed out even the smallest errors. It goes like this:

Sign up to Centus and create a new project. creating a new project in Centus

Now, go to the Imports section and add your files for translation. Centus will soon have plugins for popular CMSs, helping you save even more of your developers’ time. Stay tuned! importing files to Centus

The next step is to pre-translate your content with integrated MT engines: Google Translate, DeepL Translate, or Microsoft Translate. Centus editor 2

After automatic translation, assign website content to your team’s translators and editors. Let them cooperate to ensure it’s impeccable. Centus commenting feature

By following these simple steps, you can translate your entire website at a fraction of the cost. Centus works equally well for your ebooks, white papers, documents, or any other content you might have.

Parting thoughts

Website translation costs can balloon rapidly. To keep them at bay, allocate your budget to the translation of the most impactful content first. Also, plan ahead to avoid premium charges for rush translations.

Finally, consider using professional localization platforms. With Centus, for example, you can cut translation costs by reusing previously translated content, automating translation workflows, leveraging machine translation, and saving developers’ time.

Happy translating!

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