Best WordPress Translation Plugins

Judging by the questions that get asked with regards to WordPress content translation, there are many of you out there who are looking for the best way to translate their WordPress site into other languages. Join us as we check out all the Multilingual plugins available for you.
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Judging by the questions that get asked with regards to WordPress content translation, there are many of you out there who are looking for the best way to translate their WordPress site into other languages.

Many WordPress translation plugins have come and gone, but few have stood the test of time. It takes a substantial effort to create a multilingual plugin and ensure it continues to work perfectly when WordPress releases new updates. This is the main reason why many plugins have fallen by the wayside along the years.

Here’s an honest and objective look at the WordPress translation plugins available on the market today. I believe all of these plugins have a future. This is very important for you when choosing a translation plugin. Keep in mind that this will be one of the most important plugins you will have on your website. You want the plugin to be thoroughly supported so you can continue updating WordPress with new releases, without tearing out your hair worrying about whether your multilingual plugin will fail you at the next update.

WPML – The WordPress Multilingual Plugin

WPML is the grandaddy of WordPress translation plugins. No other plugin comes close to the amount of sophistication offered by WPML. Apart from enabling you to easily translate all aspects of your site (posts, pages, custom post types,  taxonomy, menus, theme text etc.), it also has the in-built ICanLocalize service through which you can get your content translated automatically by qualified translators.

Another great thing is that you find many addon plugins in the repository, such as the qTranslate to WPML importer. Given the weight of this translation plugin, many other creators of major plugins have gone out of their way to make sure that their products are WPML-compatible. Some examples are WooCommerce, MarketPress, MapPress and Pagelines. A good indicator of the success of WPML in the WordPress community.

Every theme or plugin that uses WordPress API runs multilingual with WPML. However WPML works hand in hand with theme authors by reviewing their themes/plugins in order to fully test the compatibility with WPML. Theme and plugin authors only need to get in touch with the WPML team who will do the review for free and also mention the theme/plugin on their blog once the compatibility testing is finished.

Support for WPML is top notch. The company has been in place for many years and they are thoroughly focused on translation services, even having their own professional translation service which is accessible through the plugin’s own interface in WordPress. You can thus hire professional translators from within the WordPress dashboard when using WPML.

If you are looking for the most reliable translation solution with the best features, then this is it.

Download WPML

Stella

Stella is a young translation plugin released by Theme.fm this year. This plugin is designed to allow the user to create a multilanguage site in a simple and straightforward manner, and succeeds very well in doing so. There is also a limited free version available on the WordPress plugin repository.

Download Stella

Multilingual Press

Before we talk about this plugin, keep in mind that it is currently in development, but available for testing. Therefore I don’t recommend using it for live projects yet, although it will probably be a serious contender in the very near future.

Multilingual Press works in a very different way from all the other WordPress translation plugins we cover in this post. This is because it is built on WordPress multisite, and you therefore need to get that up and running first. This makes this plugin more complicated to set up than WPML or qTranslate for example, however it is also a very powerful WordPress multilanguage handling method.

As an overview of how this plugin works, you first need to setup a WordPress multisite installation. Each site/blog in your multisite system can then be attributed to a different language. You then simply write a post or page in one language, and Multilingual Press will automatically create a duplicate of it in the other sites/blogs.

These new posts and pages are interlinked and are easily accessible via the post/page editor screen – you can switch back and forth to translate them! Multilingual Press does not make any custom changes to the WordPress coreand it’s big advantage is that it doesn’t harm your website’s performance, because it is actually handling multiple websites rather than loading one website with more tables and data.

This plugin was created by a few experienced WordPress developers, and there also plans for a Pro version. This is a WordPress translation plugin that is worth keeping an eye on as it approaches a stable release.

Download Multilingual Press

qTranslate

qTranslate is one of the oldest translation plugins, and one that has been constantly supported and updated throughout the years. Having well upwards of 500,000 downloads, this is still one of the most stable plugins for powering multilingual WordPress websites.

In qTranslate you translate posts and pages from the original post’s interface, and don’t create a separate post for each language (as in WPML).

qT not only supports free machine translation, but also professional human translation! With qTranslate 2.3, a new feature called “qTranslate Services” have been added. So what does it do? qT not only supports free machine translation, but also professional human translation!

The Services are provided by Web-Translations, where Ford, MTV and many other companies get their translations from. This makes it similar to WPML, although the translation process is less seamless than WPML.

To use qTranslate services, simply enable it under “Settings” on “Language Management”.

When you install qTranslate and select the languages, it also creates dashboard menu buttons for each language, when clicking them you switch the dashboard itself to another language. This works quite well, as you can see in the screenshot.

This is quite a good translation plugin and Qian Qin has given an amazing contribution to the community, however for many reasons I would prefer to have the peace of mind that a premium plugin like WPML gives you with regards to support. qTranslate being a free plugin, you cannot expect that the developer is always there to answer your questions or provide fixes if something goes wrong.

Download qTranslate

Xili-language

Xili-language has been around since 2009 and been downloaded more than 60,000 times. It is a completely free plugin with no pro version. It works in both standalone and multisite WordPress configurations. This plugin does not create any additional tables in the WordPress database, which in general is a good thing.

The interface provided by Xili-language is user friendly enough, although I prefer WPML’s UI which is more intuitive.

The documentation of this plugin was clearly created by someone who doesn’t exactly have an excellent grasp of the English language, and can be puzzling at times. It reminds me of text translated using an automated translator. It definitely is an area of the plugin that needs to be refined a bit more to compete with the other translation plugins mentioned earlier in this post.

That ‘small p’ in the plugin’s banner in Codex (probably a small oversight) also hurts the eye of WordPress fans, I really recommend that the author fixes this, as it is starting to become a sign of mediocrity to spell WordPress incorrectly.

Apart from the above minimal gripes, this is a solid plugin, which however has never reached very high popularity levels, in contrast with the other free plugin qTranslate. The main developer, Michel, is friendly and available for help and support. Many developers have used the plugin for the last few years successfully, so it’s worth giving it a try if you are strictly looking for a free plugin.

Download Xili-language

Transposh

Transposh translation filter for WordPress offers a unique approach to blog translation. It allows your blog to combine automatic translation with human translation aided by your users with an easy to use in-context interface.

This plugin does a good job at providing automatic translation that can then be easily edited by the admin to polish it up. It can thus help you translate your site at a very rapid pace. I’m not sure I like the in-context interface however, I tend to prefer the WPML approach of allowing you to rewrite a post in another language via the WordPress admin.

Transposh however is a well supported plugin that is still being updated regularly, and it’s worth trying out to see whether you like it’s approach or not. After all it’s a free plugin so trying out is a no-brainer.

Download Transposh

Recommendations

The best free WordPress translation plugin is qTranslate. It works very well, is stable and receives updates. However multilanguage sites can be quite complicated, and you cannot expect the author to respond immediately to support requests.

If you check out the forum page for qTranslate, you will see how many support requests there are. Many of them are unanswered, so think well before going for this plugin. If you’re a developer and absolutely short on cash, you can give it a go, in the hope that you will fix things yourself if you encounter any bugs, or want to do any customisations.

Alternatively, just go for a premium plugin like WPML or Stella.

The best premium WordPress translation plugin is most definitely WPML. You can go ahead and search about this plugin, you will find the overwhelming majority of users are very satisfied and vouch that no other multilingual plugin comes close to the features and support offered by WPML.

Multilingual Press is currently still being developed, and looks like it’s going to be a freemium style plugin, with a free version and a pro version having more features. It has a unique architecture, and I would also keep tabs to see how this translation plugin pans out on a long term basis.

Stella is a new entry in this niche, it still doesn’t have the same number of features or wide adoption of WPML, but it’s one to follow because it is well-built and very promising.

Have you used any of the above plugins in your WordPress multilingual sites? Let us know what experiences you have in the comments section!

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Jean Galea
Jean Galea
Jean Galea is a WordPress developer, entrepreneur and padel player. He is the founder of WP Mayor, the plugins WP RSS Aggregator and EDD Bookings, as well as the Mastermind.fm podcast. His personal blog can be found at jeangalea.com.

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Table of Contents

24 Responses

  1. You really ought to give Easy Translation Manager a shot. Please note, i am in NO WAY affiliated with it, I simply tried it on a whim on one of my client sites (http://www.argylemedical.com/) and it was really a breeze to implement. Granted it’s not going to have the same support or integrated Translation services as WPML, but if you have a simple site and need to tack on another language… this one worked for me and was (in my opinion) simpler to implement than WPML.

    Just my two cents… for a larger, more involved site, i would probably still go with WPML.

  2. Who did the translation in the picture? Hello is ‘Hej’ in Swedish; ‘Hallå’ is what you say when you answer the phone.

  3. You have forgotten to include transposh in this article, any specific reason for that?

    It is a great plugin that is being actively developed (and yes, I am biased).

  4. Thanks so much for your reviews. I’ve heard around that for a larger site — opting the multisite route is the most stable. Is that true? How does WPML handle larger sites? Do you have any examples of larger/interactive websites using WPML?). Some recommend the multilingual press pro version, also costing about the same about as WMPL as a more stable option, what are you thoughts? Have you tried the multilingual press pro? Thanks.

    1. I think that depends on how large your site is. Can you give an estimate for the number of posts and pages you will have? WPML will scale quite well, so you shouldn’t discount it immediately. If we’re talking huge thousands or millions of posts then you might give it some more thought. You also need to keep in mind that WPML is by far the most advanced multilingual plugin there is, it’s been with us for a number of years now and is very stable.

  5. Hi Jean,

    Great review, I especially appreciate your ‘recommendations’ section at the bottom.

    I do have a question, maybe I’m naive or confused about how these translation plugins work, but do they actually convert text from one language to another automatically (on the fly) when a visitor selects a different language, or would I as the website owner have to pay someone to write the translations for all my content and then enter them into the settings for each page. Hope my question makes sense.

    I was hoping there’d be a plugin that generates the actual translations, but maybe I’m asking way too much there. Appreciate your feedback. thanks!

    Michael

    1. Hello Michael,

      Can’t testify about what other plugins does, but Transposh does generate automatic translations on the fly, which may later be editable by the admin or users.

      G’luck

    2. Hi Michael, No they don’t generate the translations themselves. In general automatic translation is not good for SEO purposes as Google will detect that it was automatically translated. On the other hand plugins like WPML have an in-built manual translation service, through the plugin interface itself you can hire professional translators who will access your content and translate it for you at an affordable rate. I highly recommend you use such a service for translating your site’s contents, especially if your regular customers come from a multilingual background.

  6. Thanks Jean. In my thinking, as long as the content itself is unique and original, so too should the translation of it be. So I don’t see why automating the translation alone should be grounds for SEO penalization. I understand though that manual translation should be more accurate.

  7. Hi Jean,

    Thanks for the great article! There’s a new kid on the block: please check out Easyling for WordPress plugin, I’d love to hear your feedback on it.

    Cheers,

    Balazs

  8. I almost bought WPML today but it doesn’t do automatic translations, worth noting. using qtranslate or transposh, havent’ decided yet might try transposh first.

  9. WPML doesn’t do automatic translations because it’s not supposed to. There are other options for automatic translations, the plugins mentioned above are for manual translation. On the other hand, automatic translations are not very useful for SEO purposes, so manual translations are preferable.

  10. Hi Jean,
    I have been looking for a reliable automatic translator for quiet a while since Google is no longer free. Glad to have found your post- thank you!
    I am short on funds as a newbie and also don’t have much time to play around with anything that doesn’t translate on the fly-per se. I know quality translation is a plus, but as of right I can’t afford to pay for WPML. Do you have any updates on Multilingual Press? The website seems to be down or not readable. Also do you have any input on the Ajax Microsoft translator? It was reading upon it and it sounds quite neat.

    Thoughts?

    Astrid

  11. Hi Jean…

    I found your post ‘just in time’, as I was searching for a good automatic translation plugin, but one that would also allow human editing of the automated initial version.

    I have to tell you, this was a seriois shortcut – I want to thank you for mentioning Transposh. It is the first time I ever heard of it. But it seems to be, at first sight, the perfect fit, as I was going to ask users to contribute/edit translations, anyway…

    One thing that is missing, which I would like to find is a rating system, that would allow readers to rate the quality of the translation, the readability in their own native language, so to speak.

    Such a feature would be a great help, when deciding if something is worth a manual translation or better left as is (automatically generated & eventually, humanly edited)

    Cheers!

    Steve ✉ Master eMailSmith ✉ Lorenzo # Chief Editor #
    eMail Tips Daily Newsletter ✉ http://eMailTipsDaily.com

  12. the best plugin is qTranslate but if you guys have money pay WPML…
    what an irony…. from a mayor.
    Instead of giving the credit to the developer who help wordpress spread around the world, you push people to buy something which is not even the best.
    tell people to contribute to qTranslate project instead please then u r a real mayor.

    I only use qTranslate on my projects.

    thank you

  13. Hi, Thanks for the post. Could you please give me an advise. I’m looking for a Google translation plugin that will work with WP Multisite. Thanks.

  14. I tried a couple automatic translation plugins for WordPress. I found a great one, with settings that anybody can understand! and is not listed here. Is the Prisna translate plugin. Check it out on http://www.prisna.net

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