How to Create a Multilingual WordPress Site

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Have you ever wondered what it would take to create a multilingual WordPress site? After all, your site visitors are from across the globe and likely speak many different languages than the primary language your website displays. Well, today we are going to take it down a notch and give you just the basics. Keep reading to find out why you should consider translating your website’s content and how to create a multilingual WordPress site using the ever-popular WPML translation plugin.
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Have you ever wondered what it would take to create a multilingual WordPress site? After all, your site visitors are from across the globe and likely speak many different languages than the primary language your website displays.

Adding multilingual functionality to your WordPress website is easy to do and offers you multiple benefits. And, with continued advancements of the WordPress core, along with some very powerful translation plugins such as WPML, you do not need to create separate websites for each different language or have separate installs of WordPress to make your site multilingual.

In fact, you will be able to translate all of your website’s content, including posts, pages, tag, categories, and themes into as many languages as you want using a few translation tools.

In the past, we have shared with you some of the best multilingual plugins on the market, necessary features a quality translation plugin should have, and even how multilingual SEO works on your WordPress website.

However, today we are going to take it down a notch and give you just the basics. Keep reading to find out why you should consider translating your website’s content and how to create a multilingual WordPress site using the ever-popular WPML translation plugin.

Why Translate Your WordPress Website?

There are several reasons why making your WordPress website available in multiple languages is a good idea. Here are some of the most significant reasons:

  • Expand your customer base. Offering your website in multiple languages will reach an international audience. And, having the ability to read your website in their native tongue, foreign customers are more likely to make purchases.
  • Boost your marketing efforts. Again, translating your content is simply going to reach more people. Being able to communicate with people in a language they understand will give your business an international presence.
  • Increase trust. Catering to those who speak other languages will establish your business as being trustworthy and reliable, despite being a foreign product or service.
  • Improve your image. Taking care to create a multilingual website demonstrates you care about every site visitor, regardless of location. In addition, portraying your business as a global competitor will give you the edge to surpass others in your niche that may not take the time to translate their content.
  • Optimize foreign SEO methods. Many countries are implementing local search engines, especially when English is not the primary language spoken. Having translated content will rank you higher in these local SERPs and open up more opportunities to do business with your international audience.

Increasing your connectivity with those around the world has never been more important. That’s why translating your WordPress website is something all serious website owners should consider.

Create a Multilingual WordPress Site with WPML

In the past, we have discussed in-depth how to create a multilingual website using WPML. In case you missed it, you can check it out here.

However, today we are going back to basics. Instead of getting into the precise details that make WPML so amazing and arguably the best translation plugin on the market today, we are going to see how to create a multilingual site within mere minutes.

Step 1: Getting Started

The first thing you will want to do is install the core WPML plugin and any optional add-ons you have chosen to include on your website. From there you will configure your plugin settings. You will begin by choosing a current content language.

WPML - Default Language Option

In addition, you will add the additional languages you want your website’s content displayed in.

WPML - Additional Languages

Step 2: Configure the Language Switcher

Once you have determined which languages to translate your site’s content into, you need to provide site visitors a way to switch between the available translated content. This is performed using a language switcher. In addition, you will decide where to place the language switcher on your website.

WPML - Language Switcher

From the setting page, you can easily change the location of your language switcher to areas other than the footer. For instance, place it in a sidebar, a menu, or even directly into your website’s theme. More so, you can set the switcher to display in a mobile-friendly way for those visitors that are on the go.

Lastly, for those looking to create custom language switchers by adding custom CSS, you can check out this helpful guide provided by the developers of WPML.

Step 3: Choose How to Organize Your Translated Content

WPML lets website owners decide how to organize content in different languages. Here are the three options you have to choose from:

  • Different languages in separate directories (like com/es/ for Spanish and for German)
  • A different domain per language (
  • Language name added as a parameter (like com?lang=es for Spanish)

Another great feature that needs configuration is the admin language. Typically, the admin language will be the same as the default, current content language. However, websites with several authors writing in different languages may require different admin languages to complete their work.

To address this need, WPML allows individual users to select their own admin language from their profile page.

Step 4: Professional Translation of Your WordPress Website

After configuring your WPML plugin, it is time to begin translating your content.

The important thing to remember while using WPML is that although the plugin does all the heavy lifting when it comes to displaying your website’s translated content, you are responsible for inputting the content, and its translations, into your website for display.

Luckily, WPML does a great job of helping website owners out when it comes to translating content.  To start, WPML’s Translation Dashboard helps you identify content that has been translated and content still in need of translation. This is all done with an advanced filtering system.

WPML - Translation Management

When it comes to translating your website’s content, if you are unable to translate the content and input it into your site yourself, you must find someone else that can do it for you. To help with this, the developers of the WPML plugin created a translation service called ICanLocalize. Starting at $.09 per word, the expert translators at ICanLocalize will help you translate your website’s content properly.

More so, you can connect with the professionals at ICanLocalize directly from your WordPress dashboard after installing the WPML Translation Management module and registering your website for professional translation. This makes accessing your website’s content easy for translators, as they will be able to access the back-end of your website and the content you requested for translation.

WPML - Translation Jobs

Step 5: Manual Translation of Your WordPress Website

If you prefer to translate your website’s content yourself, simply navigate to the post or page you want translated and look for the options panel to choose the language you are translating the content into.

WPML - Manual Translation

When you click on the “plus” sign to begin translating your own content, you will redirect to a new post/page editor. Here, input your translated content into the appropriate language.

It is worth noting that you have the option to copy your original content into the new post/page editor when starting the manual translation of your content. This is helpful because it provides the original content to reference as you work.

WPML - Manual Translation.2

Once you are finished translating and inputting your website’s content, whether manually or via a translation service such as ICanLocalize, your content is ready to go live. Once live, your site visitors will then be able to toggle between the available languages using the language switcher to view the translated content.

Notable Translation Plugin Mentions

Although WPML is by far the best WordPress translation plugin on the market today, it is not free. That said, there are some wonderful (and free!) alternative plugins worth mentioning:

  • qTranslate X. This multilingual plugin includes automated machine translation as well as the option to include human translated content. With many languages already built-in and ready for translation, this plugin offers website owners a nice alternative to WPML.
  • Polylang. Supporting infinite languages, the plugin Polylang lets you define the language for posts and pages that have already been translated.
  • TranslatePress – offers an intuitive approach allowing you to translate your entire website directly from the front-end using a visual translation interface. Supports both manual and automatic translation.
  • Transposh WordPress Translation. Combine automatic translation with human translation aided by users with the Transposh plugin.   
  • MultilingualPress. Great for connecting multiple websites that require content translation, MultilingualPress uses a customizable widget to link all websites.
  • Google Language Translator. Built on top of the popular Google Translate service, this plugin automatically translates content using a small shortcode placed in posts, pages, or widget areas.
  • Weglot Translate. Perfect for smaller translation jobs, this plugin automatically translates all content for you, while leaving you the option to make manual translation corrections.

Final Thoughts

In the end, taking your WordPress website to the next level by offering translated content for all of your site visitors is one of the best ways to set yourself apart from the competition. By catering to people that speak other languages, you establish yourself as an international brand that is recognizable across the globe.

If you are interested in creating a multilingual WordPress site, I highly recommend you checking out WPML. The value this premium plugin offers users is unbelievable. Easy to use, yet powerful enough to manage all of your translation needs, WPML has just what it takes to create a multilingual WordPress site.

Have you ever used WPML to create a multilingual WordPress site? Would you recommend another plugin solution? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Lindsay Liedke

Lindsay is a freelance writer who loves all things WordPress. When she is not writing she can be found spending family time with her son and two silly nephews.

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