The WP Mayor Podcast

Making Your WordPress Site Multilingual with Weglot

Do you have customers in different countries or that use different languages? If you want to translate your website and go multilingual, you should consider using the Weglot plugin. It makes WordPress sites available in multiple languages in a matter of minutes. 

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Do you have customers in different countries or that use different languages? If you want to translate your website and go multilingual, you should consider using the Weglot plugin. It makes WordPress sites available in multiple languages in a matter of minutes. 

In this episode, Jean and Gaby Galea talk to Augustin Prot, co-founder of Weglot. The plugin helps developers, marketers, business owners, entrepreneurs, and other types of users make their websites multilingual to generate revenue, leads, traffic, and results.

Episode Highlights and Topics

  • Weglot: What it does and what it tries to solve.
  • Getting Started: Simple steps to installing Weglot plugin.
  • User Profiles: Who is primarily using Weglot plugin.
  • 3 Main Use Cases: eCommerce, marketing, and private apps/websites.
  • WordPress and Weglot: Idea and implementation of the language service approach.
  • Challenges: API and service solutions for payments, commissions, and credit cards.
  • Own vs. Host: Connect to Weglot for language translation, and remain the content owner.
  • Site Speed: Weglot loads pages in other languages in milliseconds via cache, on-the-fly.
  • Location: IP address not automatically matched to countries or origin languages.
  • SEO: Google tends to rank and reward relevant multilingual content and websites.
  • Language Lead Gen: Invest in translation tool for traffic, business, and interest signals.
  • Translation Management: Classic translation list, edit translation, save to refresh page.
  • Weglot Pricing: Freemium and free-trial depending on number of words and languages.
  • Best Practices and Big Problems: Follow Google’s do’s and don’ts for SEO and domains.

About Augustin Prot

Augustin Prot

Augustin is the co-founder and CEO of Weglot, a translation solution helping thousands of businesses making their website multilingual. Weglot can be installed in minutes, on any website, without coding.

Resources/Links

Transcript

Gaby:
Hi, this is Gaby Galea. Welcome to The WP Mayor podcast. In this episode, we’ll be speaking to Augustin Prot, the co-founder of Weglot. If you’ve ever thought about translating your website and going multilingual, then you should definitely check out this plugin.

In this episode, I’ll be joined by my co-host, Jean Galea, the founder of WP Mayor and who now runs his own personal blog, jeangalea.com. Join us to learn how to make your website multilingual in a matter of minutes.

Hi, Augustin. Welcome to The WP Mayor Podcast. It’s nice to have you on.

Augustin:
Hi, Gaby.

Gaby:
Today, we’re joined by Jean Galea who we’ve introduced in a previous episode as well. Jean is the founder of WP Mayor. He’s also currently running his own blog, jeangalea.com which focuses more on investing.

Augustin, both Jean and myself are very interested in taking our blogs and making them multilingual. I know you’re the co-founder of Weglot. Please introduce yourself, the team behind it, and what the plugin actually does.

Augustin:
Yes, thanks for that. I’m super pleased to be here with you guys. WP Mayor and Weglot history is coming back. I think the first time we met or exchanged together was in 2016 at the very, very beginning of Weglot when we started the company with Rémy.

I’m the co-founder of Weglot. Rémy is the other co-founder. I’m more the CEO guy and he’s more the CTO guy. We created Weglot in 2016. We actually started to work on it in late 2015. What it does or what it tries to solve is to help website developers, website marketers make their website multilingual. 

If you have one website in French, for example, and you want to display it in English and Spanish, you would add Weglot on your website and it would help you to get it translated in Spanish and in English and get it displayed to the end visitors. That’s what it does. That’s how the idea came out in Rémy’s mind in 2015. That’s what we still do today. We haven’t done any pivot and there is a team of 25+ awesome guys behind that. 

We started out with WordPress and it’s still 50% of our users and customers, but we’re also available on other technologies. 

Gaby:
I see. So like Squarespace and Shopify?

Augustin:
Yeah, exactly or even custom dev.

Gaby:
All right. How easy is it to get started? I’ve got my blog, I’ve got my eCommerce website. Do I just install the plugin and it’s good to go? 

Augustin:
If you’re talking about the product itself, yeah. You click on install, activate. You would create your Weglot account to get your API key and then you add your API key. You select your original language, you select your translation language, you hit the save button, and you’re done. You just refresh the page. You have a built-in language button that’s displayed on your website. We’re providing one by default, but you can change it, of course, customize it. 

We’re also providing the first layer of translations, which are machine-based. We’re using a mix of Google, DeepL, Microsoft, Yandex depending on the language pairs. Then, you can either leave it as is or you can change things in real-time in your Weglot dashboard or you can involve people. For example, you added Polish and you don’t know anything about Polish but you have a friend or you have a country manager that’s speaking Polish, we’d invite them to the dashboard and they will do the review and changes where they need to be done.

Gaby:
Okay, so you can have a hybrid of both machine translations and human translation.

Augustin:
Yes. That’s actually the approach we truly believe in. We think that it depends on the use case, but for (I’d say) 75% of our users, the hybrid model is the best one. When you have thousands of products, you can’t have a human behind each page and content. It’s possible, but it will take a lot of time. By that time, you would have changed your products, so I’m not sure it will be helpful.

We truly believe that a mix of both may be a good solution. Then, you can eventually improve the pages that are the most detailed, products that are working best. Then, you can try to do A/B testing on that, improving translations to see how it goes. Start with something and integrate.

Jean:
Just to jump in here, again, this is Jean as Gaby mentioned before. I wanted to ask, first of all, if you have some kind of typical profile of a person who goes for this plugin. Let’s keep it open. It doesn’t have to be WordPress. Who was using your plugin? If you have to say, shop owners, bloggers, just generic websites, is there a mix of profiles that you see?

Augustin:
Yes. Actually, it’s more of a mix of profiles. We’re lucky enough to have many types of users, but I’d say mostly, we have solopreneurs, solo-bloggers, or side business owners that would use us. 

Then, we have marketing people. It can be from CMO to project manager, digital manager, eCommerce manager, and also business owners. Even if you have a 10-person business, most of the case, it’s the business owner that’s behind the Weglot account. It represents I’d say 65% of our users. Then, the rest are more technical guys. It can be a very technical guy, but it’s a small portion of our users. And you have an in-between – people that are technical, but it’s not their full-time job to be a full-stack developer in PHP or JavaScript.

Jean:
In terms of websites, are the shops the predominant use case?

Augustin:
Yeah. Most of the use cases are eCommerce. We have some marketing websites. For example, our Weglot website is what we call (internally) our marketing website. Then, you would have some private apps. For example, if you have an internal wiki website for a specific team or specific department, but it’s mostly the case for bigger companies. Those are pretty much the three main use cases we have.

Jean:
Which would be the biggest geographical audiences that you have these customers?

Augustin:
What would you guess?

Jean:
Spain, for example, is one where there are several languages.

Augustin:
Yeah, that’s right. We have the U.S. as the number one country.

Jean:
There’s also a mix of Spanish and English in the U.S. especially on the West Coast.

Augustin:
Yeah, exactly. It’s a huge market, so even if it’s a small market share, it’s still a big number. Then, we have Western Europe – France, Germany, Spain, and the U.K. Then, let’s say, Canada. That’s the main market, but we have customers in 100 countries. That’s the beauty of digital products.

Jean: How do you handle support? Is it all in English or do you have people in different languages?

Augustin:
Good question. We actually do not have a formal internal policy of what language you have to use. What we do is by default, it’s English. Then, when we recognize users that are speaking the language we can switch to, for example, French for me, Spanish – we have people coming from Mexico or from Colombia on the team. It can also be Italian if you speak Italian, but it’s mostly English.

Jean:
Let’s speak about how you chose to implement your idea about the multilanguage service. First of all, it’s more of a service rather than a plugin. When you arrived on the scene, I think WPML was by far the dominant plugin. There were a few others. I remember when I used to see new plugins coming in, how are they going to compete with WPML? It seems everybody is using it. 

When you came in, you went for a radically different approach by providing translations as a service. I’d love to know more about when you got the idea. I guess you looked at the WordPress space. You saw the main players and saw what they were doing. Apart from carving out a niche, is there any other reason that made you think that a service would be better for users?

Augustin:
You were asking about the service idea. The approach is connected with the idea. Before doing Weglot, Rémy started his first startup. It was a mix of Google Maps and Craigslist. You could find things around you and the map thing was a key differentiation. They did that with another co-founder for a year. After a year, it was how to get real money to do that. It was nothing compared to the key player off in France, so they decided to shut down the business.

When they did that, he wanted to build another one. He started to think about what were the things that were challenging during his first startup experience? He was in charge of the website development. Any time he met a real challenge, he found a magic solution – API-based, service-based.

For example, he wanted to add a payment, how am I going to host the credit cards? How am I going to do the connection with the bank? It’s going to be a nightmare and so on. Then, he found Stripe. In an afternoon, it’s down. It’s connected and you can receive payments. Kind of magic.

Another example would be he wanted to send text messages to users and customers when they receive offers, for example. He didn’t know how to do that with code. He did some research and he found Twilio. Twilio is literally two minutes or five minutes integration. You just manage your dashboard and you’re sending text messages. Really, he found it magic.

When he had to do the translations for the websites in the different languages, he tried to find a solution and a tool that will make things easier, API-based, for example. He didn’t find anything that was doing that. When he started to think about something that could have made his life easier at the time, he magically thought about doing something that helped any website owners, developers to make a website, which involves technical speaking and conversing. 

That’s how the idea came out. He found many solutions that were API-based and service-based. That was the logical approach for him. To make it easier, it has to be API-based in all the complex and challenging parts in the service provider. We started there. We had the JavaScript snippet at the time. We were asking people to implement the JavaScript snippet in their HTML, kind of like a Google Analytics snippet that you add.

It was working, but we had many users giving us feedback about, hey, I don’t know how to add things in my HTML, do you have a WordPress plugin? We heard that a lot. We also have users that were saying, it’s great, it’s working, but it’s only JavaScript-based, browser-based. The crawler of Google and other search engines is not seeing the translated versions.

Those were two problems. We knew nothing about WordPress at the time, really. It’s really the users we met. We were going to co-working places, knocking on each shoulder to ask them to add the code. That was their feedback about the product. 

At some point, okay, let’s have a look at WordPress, how it’s working, and how we can maybe wrap our tool into a plugin just to make things easier to add the tool to the website. While doing that, we also understood that we were able to do translations of our site with WordPress while using the API-based approach. We did that too. That’s when we created the plugin in 2016.

For us, it was just logical that it’s going to be service-based, API-based, but at the very beginning, it was complex and challenging to explain that to users. I think at the time, WordPress users were not that used to service-based and API-key-based tools. They were more used to plugins they would add and own. It was very important to them. We had to educate a bit of the people that were signing up. 

In the end, there are two approaches. We teach the markets that there is room for everyone, but ours is really focusing on the user experience, easiness of adding translations. I think that the service-based approach is better suited.

Jean:
We’ve spoken about your choice about the API system and service-based, which is interesting because I thought it was more of a marketing choice. But it turns out that it was more of a philosophical choice. It’s actually better to know that.

As someone who comes from the WordPress space, our audience is going to be mostly WordPress users. As you said, people on WordPress – at least the older guys like me – were used to owning the content. That’s why we use WordPress. We own everything, especially the content. We’re really focused on owning the content.

Can you explain clearly what happens with our content? Let’s say I have my blog that’s in English. I want to have Spanish and French. When I connect to Weglot, what happens with the incoming content? Is it something that’s stored in my WordPress database that I own that I can later deactivate Weglot, or is it somehow owned by Weglot and I always need the connection for it to work?

Augustin:
It’s a good question. That’s a question we have a lot, so I’m used to answering it. But we always had the same answer. You own the content. Whatever happens, the users and the clients own the content.

The main difference between us and more traditional solutions is that we are taking care of the hosting of the translated content, which means that when you connect Weglot, the content is yours and it’s hosted by us. We’re taking care of the technical aspects of the translations and language lingo.

If at some point you don’t want to use Weglot anymore, sure, no hard feelings. You can ask us export the translations which we give to you. You can then take care of adding them back to a solution or doing whatever you want with that. 

In the end, it’s the same thing. If you’re changing from one hosting company to another or if you’re using one email provider to another, part of the content is hosted not by you. If you switch your mind and you want to change to another solution provider, you would take the content and bring it to the other solution provider. You can see us as the same thing.

Jean:
Let’s go a layer deeper towards more technical. What’s happening exactly? When I connect to Weglot, what happens to my English content at that point?

Augustin:
For example, you have your blog in English on your homepage and you’re adding Weglot to the website. You selected French and Spanish for translation languages and then you have the button. You did it yourself or you’re using ours by default.

Jean:
That can be like a widget that I plug into the sidebar, for example, right?

Augustin:
Yeah, exactly. It can be a widget. You install the plug-in, then we provide a language button. You can change some default options such as with or without flags, with or without names, and so on. But if you want to do one, totally custom yourself, you can do that. And then you connect it to the plugin with a simple […].

Jean:
Within an article I imagine, there would be something written. This article is also available in French and Spanish. Is that possible as well?

Augustin:
No. We’re providing the button and it’s actually making the whole website available in different languages.

Jean:
Not just the content, the post itself – the menu, everything.

Augustin:
Yes, exactly. Everything. You can see where it’s working. You add Weglot, the visitors see the button, and they change it from English to Spanish, for example. What happens is that the plugin is correcting and detecting all the strings of the page, then it’s sending them to the API using your API key. It’s getting translations that are connected to their original content and it’s replacing it in the HTML. It’s serving the page under the /es page to the end of the end visitor. 

At no moment have we tried to localize the origin of the string, trying to see if it’s coming from a plugin, from a theme, from the core, and so on. It’s really looking at the HTML of the page.

Jean:
The rendered page.

Augustin:
Yes. 

Gaby:
Does it take time to load the page in another language or is it just like you refresh the page and it’s automatically translated? Does it affect the speed of the site at all?

Augustin:
On average, I would say it’s going to add 200 milliseconds. For humans, it’s not very significant. The good thing is that it’s compatible with any caching solution. If you already have a cache infrastructure or cache solution on your website, it benefits you from the cache you did for the original language.

Jean:
So the translations are done in the background when we connect or are they on the fly? Every time somebody accesses that page, there’s this translation going on?

Augustin:
It’s on the fly.

Jean:
If it’s on the fly, does it still bypass the cache then? How does it work?

Augustin:
No, it depends. For example, if the translated page is requested by someone in Europe, you have a caching solution for Europe, and it’s two minutes or whatever, it will be cached until the cache is invalidated. If the cache is invalid for any reason of the cache settings, it will invalidate and it will request the original translations. That’s at the WordPress level.

On top of that, we also have caching on the API and on other points. In the end, 200 milliseconds is the worst-case scenario.

Jean:
Okay, so all the images and scripts are still loaded by the original method we were using. Only the content changes.

Augustin:
Yeah. The images, what we can do is obviously, sometimes you want to translate images. You can decide to have different images depending on the language. Sometimes, you can have some text in images, it can happen. You can do that with Weglot. You need to have different batches of images. You just fill in the URL of the images in English and the one in Spanish and it will display the good one depending on the language.

Jean:
That was my next question about geolocation.

Augustin:
That’s another thing, the geolocation. We’re also providing something for that. We decided at the very beginning that we will not base automatic […] on an IP. Why? Because one, you need to have a very reliable external service to connect and to match IP addresses with countries, which is not always the case, and it increases dependencies. 

Two is a country is not a language. You can have Spanish people doing searches in France, but they want to have the website in Spanish if it’s available. We decided to offer an auto election feature, which is based on the browser language preferences.

Jean:
Within the posts, for example, I’m using a geolocation plugin because certain services I’m promoting are not available or the availability depends on the country irrespective of language. I want to show (say) WordPress to the British and Squarespace to the French. The links would be different. How is that handled? How would that work?

Augustin:
It will be the same as for the original. If in the original language you already set your geolocation rules. 

Jean:
I have shortcodes. If the country is France, show this content within the shortcode, and if the other, show the other.

Augustin:
It would be exactly the same interpreted languages.

Gaby:
I was going to move on to SEO as well and how a multilingual website is affected. Does Google reward multilingual posts?

Augustin:
I would say yes because you have more content, but it’s hard. If you look at key Neil Patel recommendations in terms of SEO to improve your SEO, one of the things he recommends is to be multilingual. I’m not an SEO expert so I’m not the right guy to answer the question, but according to some experts and industry experts, it has a positive impact on your SEO.

Gaby:
You’re basically multiplying your content.

Augustin:
Exactly. You’re getting more relevant content to people because it’s a better experience. It’s not only having more pages, it’s to have the right pages for the right person.

Jean:
There’s also the question of whether you’re using Google Translate or a more customized version of the content. I think Google will detect that.

Augustin:
That’s another question. Would Google penalize you if you’re doing Google Translate content?

Jean:
Not penalize you as such, but let’s say I want to target specifically French people. I’m blogging about finance and I want to target the French. I don’t think I would put the Google translation and automatically be ranked within the top French bloggers that are blogging in French. But if I use a custom and proper translator or maybe even your service, then I actually have the chance to rank.

Augustin:
Yeah. That’s right. I think they did announce that they would not penalize any website that was using Google Translate. That’s an announcement they made. One of the SEO expert guys from Google.

Their algorithm is getting better and better, so if your automatic translation is really too far from the keyword search and it’s not getting good ratings in terms of time on the page and so on, it’s not as good as other content. It will not be ranked. Like any other content even in your origin language, you need to spend time on the content and understanding the queries, but it gives you the stats.

Jean:
In your case, I understand that Google wouldn’t penalize. There’s no reason to do that. But with Weglot, where would you say it stands between Google Translate and humanly-translated content on the spectrum?

Augustin:
It depends on what you use.

Jean:
Say for products, it’s easy. There’s a product. There’s some text. A T-shirt is blue, it’s green, whatever. But when I have a blog post and I’m expressing an opinion, I’m using certain words. How close can it get? Is it something like just a starting point maybe?

Augustin:
I think you nailed it. It’s really a question of use case. I’d say for huge websites with a high number of product pages and so on, it’s better to just start with a machine and then iterate and improve specific pages. 

For a blog with deep research articles or opinion-focused, opinion-based articles, I think it’s important to have a human reading it and reviewing it to make sure it translates your opinion in the original language into the translation language. Those are the two sides of the use cases. 

In the middle, you have marketing copywriter websites. It’s really a question of standards you have in the company, but also the tone you’re using. If you’re using a really second-degree tone with a couple of advice, you want to be very different from other competitors and from other companies. I would say that you put a lot of effort into the content in the original language, so it’s normal that you will also put more time and more resources into the translations because you want to keep that.

Jean:
In my case, this is just my last question to wrap up this mini topic here. Let’s say my website is doing really well in English, but there’s a big risk for me or there’s a big switch between English and going into the French market. I don’t even know if the French will like what I’m selling. 

For me to invest a few €1000 to hire a human person to translate is a bit of a big jump, so I was thinking actually to use a tool like Weglot to get the basics covered. Maybe I could then tweak it a bit to make sure there’s no-nonsense and see if at least I get some interest. Maybe the French started visiting and they tell me, look, we’re trying, but we’re not managing to get what you’re trying to say. Then I know that I can hire a translator to go in and fix it.

Augustin:
Yeah. I totally agree. That’s what I would do. You’re using us to collect signals. If there is a weak to medium signal, it means it might be worth investing more money into that and see if you can renew more traffic and more business for you.

We actually have one SEO company who used us as a test, a French one, Smart Keyword, and they used us in Spanish. They started to get and receive leads from their contact form in Spanish. They did nothing but lean on the automatic translations, but it gave them signals very quickly. That was a good way for them to decide if they were interested in going into Spanish markets or not.

Jean:
I guess your tool also makes a distinction between American English and British, Mexican, Spanish, and Mainland Spanish.

Augustin:
That’s something we didn’t have until now. It’s a good question. Before today, we were not able to provide a variation of the language depending on regions. You only had French, English, and some. Now, you can have a variety of languages based on region. You can have Spanish-Mexican, Spanish-Spain, and so on.

The way it’s working is if there is a machine translation provider providing the local language, we would provide it so the base of the translations is already regionalized. If it’s not provided by any provider, we would give you the closest variant. For example, let’s say for French-Belgium, no one is providing it so we will provide French-Belgium in French. You can do the variation on French-Belgium based on the French, which is easier than starting from scratch.

Jean:
If I need to modify this content as you’re mentioning, how do I do that? Because I guess it’s not within WordPress itself, right?

Augustin:
Yeah. It’s separate. It’s in your Weglot account. That’s where you’re managing translations. There are two ways to do translation management. One is a classic translations list. You have on the left the original language string and on the right the translations. You can edit any translations. Once it’s edited, it’s saved and you can reload the page. It’s already displayed. You have different ways to make that easier. You can stop by the URL, you can use features, and so on.

We have another way. I think most people like this one. It’s a visual editor. It’s kind of a page builder but just optimizations. You see your web pages. If you were visiting your website, you can click on any string, it will open the translations, and you can change it directly there, plus a couple of features and so on.

Gaby:
I was actually going to say WP Mayor is using Elementor, so that was going to be my next question. Does it work with page builders? I assume you would just go in and use what you just said to change, for example, buttons and menus through Weglot.

Augustin:
Yeah, exactly. You will not do changes inside Beaver Builder, Elementor, and so on. You would do all the changes inside the visual editor of Weglot. It’s working out of the box with all major page builders.

Gaby:
Of course, the same thing with WooCommerce and other sales funnel plugins.

Augustin:
Yes, exactly. Like we said before since we are not trying to identify where the string is coming from, is it translatable, is it available, and so on. Since we’re just looking at the HTML page just before it’s rendered, it’s easier for us to detect everything. I’d say for 99% of the themes and plugins, it’s convertible out of the box.

Gaby:
When it comes to blog posts, let’s say I’m regularly updating my posts. Does it get automatically translated every time? Is there a time period?

Augustin:
No. Any changes you do, the next visit in Spanish would be updated with the new changes.

Jean:
I think that’s one of the biggest advantages of using a service-based translation mechanism. Because I myself and even Gaby on WP Mayor, we make a lot of changes to past posts, so it would be a big headache to have to notify translators. And maybe it’s one sentence that we changed. It’s just not worth it to find a translator. She has to go back and make the change.

Augustin:
Yeah, it’s a lot of time. That’s funny. Something we are more and more aware of is we have an approach that’s not only service-based but is also top to bottom. We provide something and then we integrate on something. It’s not starting from scratch.

I can imagine a 10–15-person company and one guy has an idea, okay, let’s do the website in French and Spanish. They’re in English originally. Okay, so where am I starting? I have the technical parts and the content part. It can look like a big mountain.

One way of avoiding that is having a tool that gives you in a couple of minutes something that’s doing 80% of what you’re trying to do and then refining, optimizing, customizing according to units. We didn’t know that when we were building Weglot at the time. But now we’re seeing people that are actually telling us that’s why it’s so useful. It’s a solution, it’s working.

Jean:
As a trial, if I have to pick my 10 most popular posts, just translate those (say) to French, and see how it goes for two weeks. Then if I’m not happy, just delete everything. How easy is it to do this whole process?

Augustin:
You just need to add Weglot to the websites, create your Weglot account, add your API key – that’s a total of five minutes – and click on save. One thing from what I understood is that you don’t want to translate everything but only a couple of posts. The only hard part will be there. 

You can actually blacklist things you don’t want to translate, which is what we call excluding rules. You would exclude pages based on a regex for example or based on path. You would exclude everything but the pages you want to translate. Maybe in 10 more minutes, 20 if you need the support to help you on the regex and then it’s working. You can just focus on the content and eventually have someone you know who speaks French review the pages just to make sure it’s okay. That’s all.

Jean:
If it doesn’t work out and I want to clean everything, does it leave a lot of things behind? Is there no mess at all?

Augustin:
You deactivate Weglot, uninstall, and you don’t have any more code of Weglot on your website.

Jean:
That’s another advantage. You don’t have a lot of useless content in the database because it was always hosted on your end.

Augustin:
Yeah. That’s why we still wanted something very light, technically speaking. We don’t want to leave any code because that’s part of the thing we really believe in. It has to be very easy to use, but also very easy to add. If you want to disconnect it, it’s also easy for you. It’s better for us too because otherwise, we would spend hours helping people to remove our plugin. It’s a nightmare.

Jean:
I’ve always been very interested in multi-language because I’ve always lived in multilingual countries and also because of my content. A lot of the content I write is for Europeans. We all know how important it is to have specific languages for (especially) countries like France and Germany where the local bloggers or shops are really strongly positioned with SEO and people actually are search in German or French.

We covered updating. We covered how the content is generated. You can use it on any platform. How many platforms do you support? Any platform?

Augustin:
Any platform. Actually, I can say a couple of words about how it’s working outside of WordPress. Outside of WordPress, you have two ways to use Weglot. One is to have the JavaScript snippet. It’s working great out of the box. We use any technology. You just need to have access to your HTML, but the big drawback is that you don’t have SEO.

For private apps, it can be very useful, but for any public website, you don’t want to not have SEO on your website. We developed another way to add Weglot. We’re using DNS. We’re asking the user to add an entry in their DNS and they would authorize us to serve the translated versions, the subdomain.

For example, I will ask, okay, go to your GoDaddy DNS, add the new entry es. You make it point to Weglot and a couple of minutes after that, the es version of mywebsite.com is available in Spanish and served by Weglot. That’s possible on any platform.

Jean:
That also works on static WordPress sites? I know there’s been a lot of talk about static WordPress over the past couple of years especially. Would it still work there?

Augustin:
Yeah. It would still work there. But for static WordPress, it depends on how it’s coded. You can use either the plugin or the DNS approach.

Jean:
With regards to SEO purposes, how about the description of an article? Let’s say I’m using Yoast or RankMath and I put in the description of the SEO, the description for the article. Is that translated as well?

Augustin:
Yes. Once we had this feedback about SEO back in late 2015, we understood that it was very important. We had to focus on making sure the translated version we were providing was performing from an SEO standpoint. SEO-wise, there are three things. One is being server-side. That’s what we do with DNS and we do the plugin.

Two, is having dedicated, unique URLs. Google recommends to you either subdirectories, subdomains, or different top-level domains. That’s what we also do with the plugin or with the DNS approach.

The last one is to either let Google know and let search engines know that you have different versions of your website. You can use either a sitemap or href link tags. What we do today is href link tags. It’s working great. Maybe one day, we’ll also have the sitemap option, but for now, it’s only the href link tags.

The last point is making sure all the SEO key items of your page are visible and translated for Google. For example, titles, meta descriptions for Google, but also for Facebook when you want to share it or to do some ads on it. Everything is translated. Yes.

Jean:
We haven’t talked about the pricing models. Let’s also give an overview of that. How does that work?

Augustin:
Yeah, sure. We’re doing Freemium, a free trial product. Normally, you can have your free trial on your Freemium product. You can’t do both, but we’re both.

Jean:
I think we are, too. With Spotlight, we’re doing that.

Augustin:
Same thing? Okay, great. We actually have a free trial. It’s a 10-day free trial where you can use the product, making sure it fits your needs, and so on. We also have a free plan. You can use (if you want) only one language and you have 2000 words to translate. Because the criteria for us, the way the pressing is working, the two main things are the number of words translated. Now, let me be more specific. The total number of transitive words. It’s not the number of original languages, it’s the number of words translated.

And then it’s the number of languages you want to add to your website. If you want one language and you just have 2000 words, it’s free for life, forever. We have thousands of free users. There are different use cases where it works. Then when you have, let’s say, a website with more content, it can be a huge blog, which is your main business. It can be eCommerce websites and so on. Then, in that case, you would need a plan.

It ranges from €9.90 a month to our enterprise plan that starts at €500 a month. On average, people are paying €35 per month, all our customers on average. In the end, in a year, it’s like €350 a year. It’s not free, of course, but I think it’s easy to see if it brings value to you or not or to your business.

Jean:
Comparable to a hosting account.

Augustin:
Yeah.

Jean:
Which is what you’re providing – hosting for other languages, other versions of your site. How about if I’m writing myself in several languages? I’m doing Spanish and Catalan or Spanish and English and I want to translate those into other languages. How do you pick the source there? How does that even work? Is it possible?

Augustin:
For now, the way it works is one original language by website. If you want to mix languages in your original language, if it’s really a couple of pages or exceptions, we can find a workaround. If it’s really the core of your website to be multilingual in the original language, we won’t be a good use case or a good tool for you. You decide and you let us know what is your origin language. It can’t change after that.

Jean:
Okay, but what if I set English as the original language, but I also want to write in Spanish myself separate from Weglot, and for everything else, you will translate from English to all the other languages. Is that possible?

Augustin:
That’s possible. It can require some setup on your side. It means that you would have all the Spanish content under the same URL path for example, and you will have everything under I don’t know, Spanish slash, or whatever. Then you would let Weglot know that all the URLs under this path shouldn’t be translated. Because this way, everything you just created, that’s all.

Jean:
Speaking of URLs, how did you choose the structure that you’re using, the /es, /fr structure? Do the slugs also get translated?

Augustin:
Two good questions, many good questions. I was not expecting such detailed questions, but I love it. We’re providing a product, so I love talking about the product. The URL, what we’re doing is for WordPress and with the plugin, we have a subdirectory. It means we would add after the .com or .fr slash and the two-letter code of the language – two-letter code based on the international standards we are using. We’re just applying that.

Before this year, you couldn’t translate URLs with Weglot. Only part of it on WordPress and on other technologies, it was not possible at all, but we had so much feedback. We have a public feature request, which is roadmap.weglot.com where you can submit a request and upvote existing requests. That was the number one upvoted request. It was to translate URLs. We thought that we must do it.

Now you can translate any URLs. By default, it’s not translated because it’s not part of the key, let’s say, official recommendation of Google in terms of multilingual SEO. It can have some impact. It’s possible, but it’s not stated by Google. That’s why it’s something we did lately and that’s at the very beginning. Then by default, we keep it not translated, but then you can, if you want, translate it into different languages.

Jean:
With regards to the structure, is that something – because I remember a few years back, there was a lot of debate about what’s the best structure to use.

Augustin:
Yeah, it’s hard to answer the question. If I can do some comparison, sometimes you’re hearing people saying that you have to get the blog on a subdomain, separated domain. Or, no, you have to get the blog below the same domain because you would have the same authority and so on. I don’t have a clear answer to that.

What I know is that Google is strongly recommending using one of the three, which is a subdirectory. Subdomains are different top-level domains. I don’t think it has a huge difference in terms of SEO, but if you don’t use one of them, you would have problems in terms of SEO.

Jean:
The three were subdomains…? It’s like blog.jeangalea.com if I take that as an example…

Augustin:
Yeah. Blog.jeangalea.com for example for Spanish. Then you have subdirectories, which would be jeangalea.com/es, and then you will have different top-level domains, which will be jeangalea.es, for example.

Jean:
Okay. Makes sense.

Augustin:
The last one is maybe trickier to maintain because you would have to pay for a new domain name. It’s not very expensive, but still, you have to pay for it, you have to maintain it, you have to renew it for each language you want to launch. In the end, it’s a couple of extra bandwidth of your time you’re giving to this TLD setup.

Jean:
You keep mentioning Google a lot. To me, as I’m speaking to you, it means that you’re very much in tune with what the best practices are and you’re keeping updated with what the guys at Google are saying. How much is that driving what you do?

Augustin:
For SEO, a lot. I don’t know for you guys, but for me, SEO is kind of a black box. We’re trying to understand what’s the thing using tools, ahrefs, Semrush, whatever. You can also use great tools and plugins inside WordPress, of course, Yoast, and so on, and RankMath you named it before. What we’re trying to do is whenever there is an official documentation from Google, we should follow it. Because if they’re saying officially you have to do that, if you’re not doing that, you’re outside of the game from day one.

Jean:
Can you give some examples maybe of this one that we just mentioned? The subdomains and URL structure?

Augustin:
For example, one thing you should not do and they recommend not doing is to use language parameter, URL parameter for language. For example, if you’re using ?lang=es, it’s working, but it’s not recommended by Google. That’s something we do not offer.

Jean:
Have you seen or do you know of any other big problems with multi-language that you’ve seen over the years with people doing it?

Augustin:
Problems. I don’t know if it’s a problem. It’s still connected to SEO, but many people are asking for geographical IP redirection. That’s something we do not do. From the very beginning, it’s something we believe we shouldn’t do. If they still want to do that, that’s fine. They can use and connect that themselves. When it comes to auto redirection, it can be tricky.  We prefer to stick with our approach.

Jean:
As a user, it can be a psychological thing. Sometimes, I get really angry almost. Sometimes there are websites where I change the language from Spanish to English. It’s a financial website, I want to use it in English. Every time I log in, it goes back to Spanish. Like, I told you already, I want it in English. Why do you keep giving me Spanish?

Augustin:
I agree. It happens to me too. I was like, okay if I’m choosing it, let me choose it. Don’t force my experience. Even if you train in a private delegation, brother, it’s not working. It’s auto-editing. I agree.

Jean:
What’s your experience with people when they switch to Weglot – from one language to Weglot providing several languages? How do people usually fare? Do they see results immediately, after a few months?

Augustin:
There are too many different cases to have one answer that fits all.

Jean:
For someone who’s trialing. Let’s say the trial, okay, it works, but I want to see results now. How long does it take?

Augustin:
I think the beauty of what we’re providing, the first thing you see is you’re actually seeing your page translated, that’s the first result. Even before having and getting results like financial results or traffic results, we have actual concrete results of it working. Sometimes, for some people, it seems so hard to get there that being there in a couple of minutes or in a day is already 80% of the job is done.

I agree it’s important to give results. We actually have stats where people can see the number of requests made to the API. It’s equal to the number of visits to your translated pages. You can also have this information in your Google Analytics. That’s something you can track actually to see if it brings you value. When you’re doing eCommerce, you can see if you’re getting sales in new countries or inside countries where you were not that present before.

I would say that overall, maybe for some of the users that are Weglot customers, it’s going to be a couple of 10 cents a month. Even 10 cents a month, it’s worth having Weglot because you put it, you forget it, and you’re just creating 10 cents a month. Then if you want to recreate that, you have the signal. You can invest more money into marketing, into making sure you’re seen in the new language you’re addressing, in the countries you’re trying to target.

We also have others that are using us in different languages and they’re getting huge traffic and huge volume of sales with the languages. They already know. They were just thinking about what was the good solution for them. They knew it would have an impact. We gathered the solution. They wanted to make sure that they got th good one, it’s easy to set up, has no maintenance, and it’s working. It’s incredible.

Jean:
I’m asking because for example, in our world of blogging, I think it’s quite rare to find a blog that is really in several languages, both in the financial space and the WordPress space. I don’t think I can even mention one. I’m wondering why they haven’t done it if it’s that easy.

Augustin:
I guess it’s harder for blogs. I agree. That’s funny. When you look at it, it’s not a blog business. I’m not doing that much marketing anymore today compared to before. But I know that a year ago when I was doing still some, I was looking a lot at Kinsta. I always like their communication. I met the guys a couple of times at WordCamps. They’re nice, they’re doing things a bit differently. It’s just refreshing and it’s working also. 

That’s funny because they have a blog that’s translated into different languages. They’re not using Weglot – it happens – but they have a blog available. Actually, it’s in English and French, I think maybe Spanish, but I’m not sure, and it’s working.

I’ve seen results of queries that I was doing in Google that were coming from Kinsta in French. Okay, they’re good. They’re good at it. But it’s different. It’s not a blog, 100% business. I think it’s a key part of their marketing strategy and acquisition strategy, but it’s not like you where it’s 100% of your business is really your content and what you’re putting there.

Jean:
What would be the biggest issue we’d have to face if we decided to translate WP Mayor tomorrow with Weglot? What are the hurdles there?

Augustin:
I think the biggest issue for you is more the risk of providing continuous, in the same level of the English part. It’s decreased experience compared to the English part, so it’s potentially harmful for you. Maybe that’s something that you have in mind right now. That’s how you see things. I was more thinking about – I don’t know your audience in France, but I guess none of that because French people speak English, but they prefer French content.

That’s actually something you’re not doing at all. You can put it live, you’ll see. Worst case scenario, you have someone saying like, no, it’s not working. The way you’re explaining stuff and writing things is not as good as in English. That’s one feedback. If, on the other hand, you have some traffic coming from France and getting some things coming with some leads (if you’re collecting leads) or newsletters if you’re collecting newsletter subscribers.

It means there is something and maybe that’s where you need to invest some time, set up a process that’s then automated. You can just focus on filling the blog with new content. If it’s not working, just plug it off and that’s it. You tested it. Maybe you’ll do another test in a couple of years and you’ll see.

Jean:
Just to go back on the pricing. Is the pricing based on the number of words on the website or based on the number of requests per page?

Augustin:
The two main criteria are the number of translated words and the number of languages. We also have other criteria, but to be very transparent, it’s not the criteria that’s used to select a plan or upgrade to a plan. On of this is the request to the API. Because of course, you can pay the same price if you have one million visitors coming in in French every day and if you have 1000 per month.

Jean:
That was the other layer that would increase?

Augustin:
Yeah. I’d say maybe 20%, even less. Maybe 5%–10% of our customers can choose a higher plan because they have higher traffic. Overall, it’s a good product. It means it’s working and it means you’re getting traffic and volume.

Jean:
If I start off with 500 pages of content, even if nobody ever visits them, I will be paying the 500 pages multiplied by the words on each page?

Augustin:
Yes, exactly.

Jean:
My last question is actually also partly interesting for us because of Spotlight. We’re also thinking of putting it on different platforms, not just WordPress. I was wondering what share you’re seeing of WordPress overall. As someone who’s working with different platforms – CMSs and non-CMSs—how do you see the trajectory of WordPress itself?

Augustin:
WordPress is surprisingly strong and resilient. It’s amazing. I think it’s because they were one of the first. It’s really easy to use. Even if you’re not technical, you will not feel the same way if you’re technical. I think the community is also a strong part of the success. It’s an amazing community, really. We didn’t know about that before getting to know WordPress in 2016. We actually launched Weglot officially at a WordCamp in Paris.

Jean: Gaby, were you there as well?

Gaby: No, I’ve never been to Paris for a WordCamp.

Augustin:
We could feel people were nice, kind, and welcoming us, which is not the kind of atmosphere and attitude we were used to coming from different industries. The web industry and finance industry, that’s not the same spirit. I think it’s also indirectly and directly the reason for the success of WordPress. Getting back to your questions, Shopify and the eCommerce part is growing and growing. It’s huge. I’m really amazed by what they’ve built. I don’t know where they’re going, but it’s really good.

We’re also seeing WooCommerce growing. I think there are use cases for both. It’s not, again, one rule them all. We’re seeing Webflow growing a lot too right now. They’re expanding a lot in Europe.

Jean:
Webflow, I haven’t heard of that actually. Is it eCommerce?

Augustin:
They have an eCommerce feature if you want, but it’s not really eCommerce. It’s more corporate marketing websites, really, I’d say. Squarespace is growing too. Overall, the industry is growing. There are more and more websites. Everybody’s benefiting from it, which is amazing. The market share in WordPress is growing. We have more and more players. We have Wix, which is also great. I guess all the CMSs, easy-to-use solutions are growing and are eating the custom development market share.

I think that now having a website – marketing websites, eCommerce websites, even private apps and so on – is a commodity. People are expecting tools to be easy to use and less dependent on developers. They may be expecting developers to build the tools to make it easier for them to just build things online.

Jean:
Very interesting. Thanks for that. Gaby, I don’t know if you have any other questions.

Gaby:
I let you take over there for a while. It was interesting to get into the technical aspects of Weglot. No more questions from my end.

Jean:
To wrap off, how can people find you and how can they get started with Weglot?

Augustin:
Sure, with pleasure. We have our WordPress directory page for the plugin. I’m very proud of it – many reviews. Hard work from the team to make sure people get answers and get good answers when they have a question. Really, kudos to our support team, our delivery team, marketing team, everybody behind the product. It’s an amazing journey to do that with them.

Then to find us, our plugin page, our website is weglot.com. It’s available in Spanish, English, French, German, Japanese, and maybe more coming in. You can contact us anytime at [email protected] or at [email protected] Secret, it’s going to the same mailbox so you can use either one or the other. It will not be different. You can also find us on LinkedIn. Those are all the places where you can find us.

Jean:
All right. Thanks a lot, Augustin, for being with us today. We’ll keep in touch. Everybody, go check out Weglot and let us know if you have any feedback or let Weglot know directly. We’re curious to see what you think of what we discussed in this episode.

Augustin:
Thanks a lot, Jean and Gaby. It’s a pleasure.

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About the Show

Join us as we introduce you to some of our friends in the WordPress community.

Learn all about their products and services and discover business techniques to help you enhance your WordPress business.

Meet your host

Meet your host

Gaby Galea

Gaby is the Content Manager at WP Mayor and your new host on the WP Mayor podcast! She is passionate about learning how to start, maintain and grow a WordPress business. Follow her on Twitter @GabriellaGalea.

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