More businesses globally are turning to multilingual content marketing to drive more sales and conversion. One of the key elements of this trending marketing strategy is website translations. Thanks to WordPress multilingual plugins, creating translated versions of your site has never been much easier.
Translating your WordPress website is easy when you use the right plugin. There are several free and premium WordPress multilingual plugins available on the market. But while they all allow you to translate your site to other languages, their features and functionalities vary.
Generally, WordPress multilingual plugins work in two ways. They can either allow you to translate your content automatically or manually. The challenge with automatic translations, however, is that you may not get satisfactory translation results. While manual translations may take more time, they generally deliver a better user experience. Many WordPress multilingual plugins offer both options, with support for different translation services.
In this post, we’ll look at the top three WordPress multilingual plugins: TranslatePress, WPML, and Weglot. We’ll dig deep into their features, advantages, and disadvantages so you can decide which to use. But first, let’s consider a few tips to help you choose the right option.
How to Choose the Right WordPress Multilingual Plugin
WordPress multilingual plugins don’t all work in the same way. They have unique features that cater to the specific needs of diverse user groups. Some come with free and paid plans, while others are strictly premium.
Expectedly, the paid ones are more feature-rich and support more cloud translation services. But a handful of free translation plugins also offer solid features that can help you set up a professional multilingual website quickly and easily. Basically, you need to know what kind of translation your website needs and what plugin solution offers the best value for money.
In this section, we’ll walk you through 6 essential factors to look out for when choosing a WordPress multilingual plugin.
1. Translation Interface
The majority of multilingual plugins allow you to translate your website content in three ways: on your site’s back end, the front end, or the plugin’s cloud interface. On the back end, you translate content directly from your WordPress admin dashboard.
On the other hand, the front-end method allows you to translate content while previewing your website’s pages just as your visitors get to see them. Some other plugins also provide a third-party cloud interface where you can translate your content.
We’d recommend the front-end option because it gives the most beginner-friendly and intuitive experience. Of all the plugins we tested, TranslatePress executes this best.
2. Number of Simultaneous Translations Supported
Multilingual plugins have different language support capacities. The more languages you can translate your website into, the better for your business. Some plugins limit the users to a specific number of languages they can add to their sites, while others offer unlimited translation languages. However, most plugins do generally offer several pricing plans covering different amounts of languages.
Additionally, if your target audience is in specific geographical areas, you’d need to ensure that the plugin you choose caters to your target audience’s preferred languages. This means that the specific languages the plugin offers is another important aspect to keep in mind. Even though some plugins might not offer as many languages, maybe they do offer the ones you specifically need.
3. Translation Method (Manual vs. Automatic)
We’ve already talked about how WordPress multilingual plugins allow you to translate your site either manually or automatically. Usually, a good plugin solution should let you choose seamlessly from either option.
Some WordPress site owners prefer automatic translation because it’s fast and requires minimal effort. But we generally recommend that you translate your content manually to achieve the most accurate results. Another valid alternative is to translate automatically and then employ the services of a professional to proofread the translations.
Of course, it’s also important that your plugin of choice allows you to modify translated content after translating automatically.
4. Multilingual SEO Features
When you run a multilingual website, Google treats each translated version of your site as a standalone website. Using the right SEO settings on each version of your site helps to boost your brand’s global reach and ensures that you enjoy the numerous benefits of multilingual SEO.
This is why you should consider a multilingual plugin that allows you to modify the SEO settings for each version of your website. Typically, you should be able to edit your URL slugs and other site metadata.
5. eCommerce (WooCommerce) Compatibility
If you’re receiving payments on your site or require other eCommerce features, this is an important factor to look out for. One common challenge with using some WordPress multilingual plugins is that they don’t allow you to translate WooCommerce-generated text.
This can impact the shopping experience on certain translated versions of your site. Though WooCommerce is translation-ready (it comes with its own language packs), being able to modify its gettext string translations always comes in handy.
This brings us to the last factor we recommend you pay attention to.
6. Ability to Translate Theme/Plugin Gettext Strings
Website content is not limited to what you create. The plugins and themes you install on your website also generate different kinds of content. These content types might remain in the same language when translating your site because not all multilingual plugins can translate them.
Before choosing a multilingual plugin, you should be sure that it’s not limited to user-generated content only.
Apart from the tips above, your multilingual plugin must give you complete translation control by allowing you to store your translations in your website’s database. This ensures that you can retrieve or transfer your translations whenever the need arises.
We also don’t recommend plugins that require regular payment to maintain translations. Since your translations are a critical part of your multilingual site, you wouldn’t want to lose access to them if you miss a payment or even stop paying in the first place.
Now that you know what to look out for when choosing a WordPress multilingual plugin for your website, let’s check out our top two picks.
The Best WordPress Multilingual Plugins
After testing multiple WordPress multilingual plugins extensively and comparing their features, our pick for the best two options is TranslatePress and WPML. Both plugins hold their own in each department we highlighted in the previous section.
Though it’s difficult to go wrong with either solution, each excels more in certain areas. Let’s take a closer look at these key differences.
Are you looking for a feature-packed WordPress multilingual plugin that checks all the boxes of the required features for your site? TranslatePress is just about right.
The plugin is a user-friendly multilingual translation solution that’s fully compatible with WordPress to give you a satisfactory website translation experience.
Probably, what makes TranslatePress stand out the most is that it allows even complete newbies to translate their site directly on the front end. This not only boosts its user-friendliness but also ensures that your site translation process is both fast and visually accurate.
This is all made possible by TranslatePress’ visual translation editor, which lets users translate their sites by simply clicking content from a live preview and inputting the translation in a sidebar.
But, as you may be thinking, a WordPress website seldom includes other types of content that wouldn’t normally be visible on the front-end, such as emails sent to users or dynamically displayed content. Well, for all this content, the plugin offers the String Translation interface. Here, you’ll be able to access and translate URL slugs, emails, and any gettext strings coming from your theme or other plugins.
Let’s check out some of TranslatePress’ powerful features:
- Simple and intuitive front-end translation interface that allows you to see the visitors’ view of your site;
- Seamless automatic and manual translation options;
- Image replacement in various language versions;
- 100% optimization for multilingual SEO;
- Allows you to translate content generated by themes and plugins;
- TranslatePress is compatible with WooCommerce and allows you to translate your WooCommerce store;
- Customizable language switcher box with multiple options to choose from;
- It lets you store your translations in your website’s database, giving you complete control of your translations;
- Allows you to translate your site into over 200 languages;
- Automatic user language detection feature that allows visitors to view content in their preferred language;
- 100% support for theme/plugin gettext strings;
- Full user support.
TranslatePress is one of the best WordPress multilingual plugins for boosting site traffic and generating leads. It has both free and paid plans. And the best part is, if you only need two languages on your site, you can get away for free.
If, however, the features on the free version are not enough, you can opt for a more feature-rich premium TranslatePress plan anytime. But for starters, you can download TranslatePress for free and give it a test run.
Another equally reliable WordPress multilingual plugin to check out is WPML. It’s a paid, feature-rich plugin that helps you to translate and run your website seamlessly. WPML offers a great user experience as it walks you through the different stages of translating your site. The best part is that with WPML, you don’t need special skills to translate your website.
Though the plugin uses its own proprietary Advanced Translation Editor, the editing experience is quite intuitive as well.
Let’s highlight some of its features:
- Translates single language sites into multiple versions;
- Integrations with multiple translation services that allow for a seamless exchange of translated content;
- Advanced Translation Editor that generates translations in a short time;
- Integrated features for theme localization;
- It allows you to translate content manually or automatically;
- Compatibility with SEO plugins that enable you to optimize your site for multilingual SEO;
- Compatible with WooCommerce when you use WooCommerce Multilingual;
- Offers chat support in case of any translation challenges;
- Compatibility with many WordPress themes like Ocean WP, Astra, and Twenty Seventeen;
- Compatibility with plugins like Akismet-Spam, Yoast SEO, and Gravity Forms;
- It gives you complete translation control by letting you store translations in your database;
- Integrated professional translation (optional feature for folks who need help translating).
WPML is s a premium plugin, meaning they do not offer a free version. However, they do offer several pricing tiers to accommodate most budgets. You can download WPML here.
Weglot is another of the top WordPress multilingual plugins available for business users today. This powerful tool uses an intuitive API to detect content on your website, then translate it automatically into one of 60 languages. The output translation is available to customize however you choose, with the “Contextual Editor” within your Weglot account.
Weglot complies with Google’s best practices for multilingual WordPress websites, making it ideal for companies with a strong focus on SEO. The proprietary algorithm assigns updated URLs to the new language pages. Plus, the app also automatically detects and translates important SEO data, such as titles, descriptions, meta tags, and categories.
Let’s highlight some of its features:
- Automatic content detection via an API that captures all of the text, images, and SEO meta-data of your site at the click of a button;
- Integrated word-count tool to determine how much a professional translation might cost;
- Integrated “Contextual editor” for optimizing your translated content;
- Options to hire professional translators from within your Weglot account;
- Annotations within your editor so you can mark each piece of text as “reviewed”;
- Opportunities to exclude specific pages and content blocks from your translation;
- Adherence to Google best practices for multilingual WordPress sites;
- Glossary rules for automated translations;
- Translation statistics, reports, and analytical insights;
- Support for multiple websites (for customers with a premium plan);
- Integrations with Shopify, WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, Webflow, and more;
- Compatibility with all CMS and web technology via API connections.
Weglot is free to use for websites with up to 2,000 words of content. However, you will only be able to translate a single language. To access 3 or more languages, you’ll need a “Business” plan or above, billed on a monthly or yearly basis. Prices increase based on the number of languages you need and your number of words.
Comparing TranslatePress vs WPML vs Weglot
While TranslatePress has an intuitive front-end interface, translation with WPML works in the backend. Translating your site is relatively much easier with TranslatePress than with WPML. But WPML could be more flexible depending on your site’s specific needs.
Weglot integrates with the back-end of your website as well. However, the translations you create are kept on the Weglot server and are fetched each time a visitor views your website in a certain language. TranslatePress stores your translations on your own server, meaning you have full ownership over them, and you won’t lose access to them if you ever stop paying for the service.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of both WordPress multilingual plugins.
Advantages of Using TranslatePress
- It lets you easily translate your site automatically, then tweak the translations manually;
- It gives you a simple visual translation interface to work with;
- It offers a free plan with basic features for users who can’t afford pro plans;
- Highly compatible with other WordPress themes and plugins.
Disadvantages of Using TranslatePress
- A limited number of language options on the free version;
- The paid plans are pricier for starters.
Advantages of Using WPML
- More flexible and advanced settings give you higher translation control;
- Content analysis plugins work accurately;
- Language support for Microsoft Translate in addition to Google Translate and DeepL.
Disadvantages of Using WPML
- Slower translation because it only allows automatic translation in bits using the Advanced Translation Editor;
- Requires more tables for translation grouping;
- An intricate architecture that requires the plugin to filter many WordPress services and send back only content that corresponds to the language.
Advantages of Using Weglot
- You can translate your site manually or automatically, or you can even order translations from a professional translator;
- It gives you insights into translated content statistics and reports;
- The translation interface is very clean, making it easy to use even for beginners.
- Weglot is compatible with almost any Theme and plugin and is continuously updating its plugin to make sure it’s compatible.
Disadvantages of Using Weglot
- The free plan is very basic in terms of the number of words you can translate. Accessing more translation languages and words will cost a lot;
- All of your translations are stored with Weglot, however, Weglot users are the owner of the translations and can ask any time to get an export of their translations.
Final Verdict: Best WordPress Multilingual Plugin
In this article, we’ve walked you through tips for choosing a WordPress multilingual plugin for your website. We also highlighted the features, advantages, and disadvantages of the top three most powerful WordPress multilingual plugins: TranslatePress, WPML, and Weglot.
While WPML is undoubtedly a feature-loaded WordPress multilingual plugin, TranslatePress is a lighter plugin that offers a seamless translation experience. Weglot, another highly-rated plugin, allows you to translate your site instantly. They offer SaaS billing and a seamless plugin integration through WordPress.
Working around the feature-rich WPML, while very useful, can be quite complicated and tiring. So if you don’t want the technicalities that come with WPML, TranslatePress and Weglot are safer bets.
At the same time, Weglot provides a full website translation experience including multilingual SEO, translation management and editing tools, and neural machine translation. However, to access all the features you’ll need a paid monthly plan.
Finally, if you cancel you can get your translations in a CSV format but you would need to re-integrate them with another plugin.
We hope that with the tips and plugin highlights we’ve shared, you can now choose the best WordPress multilingual plugin for your site and for your specific needs.
Bonus: Don’t Forget About Hosting
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: