The two main contenders as best multilanguage plugins for WordPress are WPML and QTranslate. If you want a quick answer to which one comes out on top, I would say go for WPML. If you have enough time to give them a test drive, by all means, do so and judge for yourself which one works best for your needs.
If you want the most fully featured multilanguage plugin solution for WordPress, your best bet is WPML.
WPML makes it possible to turn WordPress blogs multilingual in a few minutes with no knowledge of PHP or WordPress. Its advanced features allow professional web developers to build full multilingual websites.
- Turns a single WordPress site into a multilingual site.
- Powerful translation management, allowing teams of translators to work on multilingual sites.
- Built-in theme localization without .mo files.
- Comments translation allows you to moderate and reply to comments in your own language.
- Integrated professional translation (optional feature for folks who need help translating).
- Includes CMS navigation elements for drop-down menus, breadcrumbs trail and sidebar navigation.
- Robust links to posts and pages that never break.
WPML is also offering full integration with Gravity Forms, so you can easily translate all the forms on your site as well.
ICanLocalize, the creators of WPML, offer reliable commercial support for WPML. This support provides timely and dependable help directly from the developers. You can also order translations to be done directly from the plugin interface, via the ICanLocalize service.
An alternative to WPML is QTranslate. It is also a valid multilanguage plugin that works a bit differently to WPML.
qTranslate makes the creation of multilingual content as easy as working with a single language. Here are some features:
- qTranslate Services – Professional human and automated machine translation with two clicks
- One-Click-Switching between the languages – Change the language as easy as switching between Visual and HTML
- Language customizations without changing the .mo files – Use Quick-Tags instead for easy localization
- Multilingual dates out of the box – Translates dates and time for you
- Comes with a lot of languages already builtin! – English, German, Simplified Chinese and a lot of others
- No more juggling with .mo-files! – qTranslate will download them automatically for you
- Choose one of 3 Modes to make your URLs pretty and SEO-friendly. – The everywhere compatible ?lang=en, simple and beautiful /en/foo/ or nice and neat en.yoursite.com
- One language for each URL – Users, and your SEO ranking, will thank you for not mixing multilingual content
qTranslate supports infinite languages, which can be easily added/modified/deleted via the comfortable Configuration Page. All you need to do is activate the plugin and start writing the content.
Comparing WPML and QTranslate
qTranslate stores all languages alternatives for each post in the same post, whereas WPML manages multilingual posts in one post per language. Translations in WPML are then linked together, indicating that one page is the translation of another. Each of this plugin has advantages and disadvantages.
Here is a comparison between qTranslate and WPML:
Advantages of WPML:
- The database contents for posts remain unmodified (easy install and uninstall).
- Everything gets translated by default. If a post includes custom fields, they’re attached to that post, so they are already associated with the language.
- Other plugins that analyze contents (like related posts) keep working correctly.
- Great support from an established company employing more than 15 people.
Disadvantages of WPML:
- More complex architecture. The plugin needs to hook to many WordPress functions and filter them so that only contents that matches the language is returned.
- Additional tables are required normally, to hold the translation grouping.
Advantages of qTranslate:
- Side by side editing is easily implemented.
- Fewer things to break. There are no additional tables and much fewer things to modify in WordPress.
Disadvantages of qTranslate:
- In order to create multilingual contents, the user needs to insert the language tags manually, to everything the plugin doesn’t hook to. Example: Adjust MicroKid Related Posts with qTranslate Plugins
- Uninstall can be complicated, as the database needs to be cleaned from multilingual contents.
In SEO terms, the main advantage of WPML over qTranslate is the URL rewriting. With qTranslate, you create a page, name it and every translated version will contain the same URLs elements.
E.g. www.islecreative.com/translation-french and www.islecreative.com/fr/translation-french
With WPML, every page can have a unique URLs which you can decide
E.g. www.islecreative.com/translation-french and www.islecreative.com/fr/traduction-francais
Furthermore, I find WPML more user-friendly. All the translated pages are listed on the Page section, and the translated versions remain accessible whenever a page is being edited.
Have you used any of these two plugins? Have something to add to the above review? Leave a comment below!
Remember that when building a multilanguage website you can also pick a suitable WordPress multilingual theme from our review.
I’ve also created a short video showing you the basic usage of WPML when translating posts/pages:
Remember, adding new language versions to your site can become resource intensive. Before adding any significant new functionality to your WordPress sites, you need to consider whether your current hosting is capable of handling that strain.
Once you actually have traffic, you don’t want visitors to your site to be confronted with unexplained delays, not in any language. More importantly, you definitely don’t want them contacting you to ask why your site isn’t working!
The advice we always give is to make sure you get properly resourced hosting in place before you launch. We recommend two hosts that we have seen work out well for our readers, the choice between them comes down to money:
If you are on a tight budget, SiteGround has a good reputation for well-managed and well-supported shared hosting at a good price. They are by far the best at that price level, consider in particular their GoGeek level.
If, on the other hand, absolute reliability and performance are more important to you than price, WP Engine provides the best possible managed WordPress hosting, I use them for all of my most important sites, the ones that generate money. They even work out significantly cheaper than other managed WordPress hosts if you take advantage of the exclusive discount we have arranged for the readers of WP Mayor which, surprisingly, you can use in addition to their usual annual discount: