Want to create a multilingual WordPress site?
TranslatePress offers one of the easiest ways to get up and running with an SEO-friendly multilingual WordPress site.
Rather than using backend interfaces, TranslatePress lets you manage all of your translations from a visual editor using a point-and-click approach, including translation support for virtually all WordPress plugins.
You can manually translate your content from scratch or use automatic translation from Google Translate or DeepL. Either way, your translation data stays on your own server and TranslatePress doesn’t rely on serving translations from the cloud.
In our hands-on TranslatePress review, we’ll take a deeper look at what the plugin offers and then show you how to translate WordPress using TranslatePress.
TranslatePress Review: A Look at the Features
The high-level benefit of TranslatePress is that it lets you create a multilingual WordPress site.
However, TranslatePress has a pretty unique way of going about that, which is a big part of how it stands out from other WordPress multilingual plugins.
In a nutshell, it offers a lot of the simplicity of the SaaS translation/multilingual tools when it comes to easy setup and visual translation…but with an approach that’s still 100% native WordPress and 100% self-hosted.
To start off our TranslatePress review, let’s go through some of the key features that make that happen…
Visual Translation Interface (Similar to Theme Customizer)
To make it as easy as possible to manage translations, TranslatePress lets you add/edit your translations from a visual interface that looks a lot like the WordPress theme Customizer.
You can manage pretty much all your translations from this editor using point and click.
The only time that you’ll need to use a backend interface is when you’re translating sitewide URL slugs, such as your category base slug, as well as other backend content such as WooCommerce emails that your site sends to customers.
Manual or Automatic Translation (Google Translate or DeepL)
You can translate your content from scratch yourself, or by hiring translators (via dedicated Translator accounts).
Or, if you want to save time, you can also use automatic machine translation from Google Translate or DeepL.
Even if you use automatic translation, you’ll still be able to manually refine your translations.
Personally, I think using a mix of both approaches is best. You can use machine translation to generate your baseline translations and then manually review them (or hire an editor to do it for you).
What’s more, all of your translation data is stored locally in your WordPress site’s database. So you only need to query the translation service one time to generate the initial translations and then TranslatePress will store those translations in your database.
Again, this is a big part of what makes TranslatePress different from other automatic translation plugins.
Works With Any Plugin or Theme (Including WooCommerce)
One of the best things about TranslatePress is that it works with pretty much any WordPress plugin or theme right out of the box (along with all of the core WordPress functionality, of course).
This is different from some other translation plugins, which require the plugin to be coded in a certain way in order to accurately pull in its translations.
TranslatePress is able to achieve this by looking at the frontend rendered HTML of your site, rather than looking at the backend code. It doesn’t matter how the plugin is coded on the backend – if it displays content on your site, TranslatePress should be able to pick it up.
TranslatePress also has some special integrations to translate backend content via its string manager interface. For example, you can translate your WooCommerce emails.
Multilingual SEO Functionality
To help you benefit from multilingual SEO, TranslatePress offers several useful multilingual SEO features.
First off, each translation version of your content gets its own static, indexable page so that Google can crawl it. TranslatePress also automatically adds the hreflang tag to help Google understand the connection between content in different languages.
Beyond that, TranslatePress integrates with most popular SEO plugins to let you translate the SEO title and meta description (along with social media) from your SEO plugin (e.g. the details you set in Yoast SEO) and create a multilingual sitemap.
Flexible Language Switcher
To let visitors choose their preferred languages, TranslatePress makes it easy to add a floating language switcher or a language switcher in any menu area.
Or, if you want more control, you can also manually place the language switcher using a shortcode.
You can also customize the language switcher behavior, such as how to display the language names and whether or not to include flags.
How to Translate WordPress With TranslatePress
Now that you know some of the main features, let’s shift our TranslatePress review into the hands-on section and go over how to translate WordPress with TranslatePress so that you can get a more practical example of how the plugin works.
1. Choose Your Languages
Once you install and activate the plugin, you can go to Settings → TranslatePress to choose the languages that you want to add to your site.
I’ll talk more about pricing later, but the free version lets you add one new language while the premium version supports unlimited languages.
The drop-down already supports hundreds of languages and locales. But if you don’t see your language on the list, you can also add a custom language by going to the Advanced tab and scrolling down to the Custom Language settings:
2. Set Up Automatic Translation (Optional)
If you want to translate your content manually, you can skip this step. But if you do want to set up automatic machine translation via Google Translate or DeepL, you can do that from the Automatic Translation tab.
To set things up, you’ll need to create an API key at your chosen service and add it to the plugin’s settings. The plugin’s documentation includes detailed instructions for how to do this.
While TranslatePress doesn’t charge you anything extra to use the automatic translation service, you might need to pay Google Translate or DeepL if you go over the limits of their free tiers (usually around ~100,000 words per month).
If you’re translating a lot of content, TranslatePress lets you set translation limits to better control your budget at Google Translate or DeepL.
3. Translate Content Using the Visual Editor
Now, you can launch TranslatePress’s visual editor to translate your content.
If you used automatic translation, the translations will be pre-filled with those from your chosen service.
If you didn’t set up automatic translation, the translation fields will be empty and you’ll need to add them from scratch.
Here’s how to launch the editor:
- Open the page that you want to translate on the frontend of your site.
- Click the new Translate Page option on the WordPress toolbar.
Alternatively, you can launch it from the backend by clicking the Translate Site button in the TranslatePress settings.
Translating content is super easy – here’s all you do:
- Hover over the content that you want to translate and click the pencil icon to open its translation in the sidebar.
- Add the translation using the field in the sidebar.
- Save your changes by clicking the button or using the Ctrl + S keyboard shortcut.
- Repeat to translate additional content.
One of the nicest things about TranslatePress is that you can use this approach to translate pretty much any content, no matter if it comes from the native WordPress editor, your theme, any plugin, your site’s menu area, your site’s header, and so on.
Translating any element is as simple as point → click → translate.
For example, if you have a WooCommerce store, you can still use the point-and-click approach to translate the cart and checkout pages (along with all of your product details):
A green icon indicates that the selected string comes from the plugin or theme’s gettext.
You can even “translate” images using this approach. Hovering over the image and clicking the pencil icon will let you choose a different image from your Media Library for visitors browsing in that language, along with translating the alt description and image title (but only if you’ve set those details in the original language).
However, to translate third-party embeds, such as YouTube videos, you’ll need to use the plugin’s shortcode.
To translate SEO metadata and URL slugs, you can use the drop-down interface:
If you have some type of restricted content site (membership site, online course, etc.) then you might display different content on the same page depending on a user’s level.
To handle this, you can use the Browse as drop-down, which lets you “see” and translate the page as different types of users.
The free version lets you choose between logged-in and logged-out, while the premium version lets you choose specific user roles:
Finally, to translate some sitewide backend information, you can open the String Translation interface. This is where you can configure taxonomy slugs, Gettext, and emails:
However, you’ll do most of your translation work from the visual interface.
4. Set Up Your Language Switcher
Once you’ve translated your content, the last major step is to configure your site’s frontend language switcher, which is what your visitors will use to choose their preferred languages.
By default, TranslatePress adds a floating language switcher to the bottom right corner of your site, but you can easily move it to a different location (and also customize its looks).
In total, you get the following placement options:
- Floating language switcher
- Navigation menu item
- Shortcode (you could also use the do_shortcode function to place it directly in your theme’s template files)
You can access general language switcher settings by going to Settings → TranslatePress and scrolling down:
If you want to add the language switcher to your navigation menu, you can do that by going to Appearance → Menus and using the dedicated menu options:
The free version of the plugin lets you fully translate your site’s frontend content into one new language including automatic translation support via Google Translate.
If you want more functionality, you can upgrade to one of the premium versions to access, in part, the following features:
- Support for unlimited languages. If you want to offer your site in multiple new languages, you’ll need the paid version.
- Multilingual SEO support. Most of the advanced SEO features, such as translating SEO titles and meta descriptions, require the premium SEO Pack add-on.
- DeepL automatic translation. While the free version supports Google Translate, you need the premium version to use DeepL.
- Translator accounts. These are helpful if you’re working with a translation service or freelancer.
- Browse as user role add-on. If you have a membership site or online course, you’ll probably need this to translate your restricted content.
- Navigation based on user language. While the free version lets you fully translate your navigation menu, this paid feature lets you use different menus based on a user’s language.
- Automatic user language detection. You can automatically redirect users to their local language based on their browser preference or geolocation.
There are three different premium plans:
The difference between the Personal license and the Business license is the features and the number of sites you can use the plugin on.
The difference between the Business license and the Developer license is just the number of sites you can use the plugin on.
In general, I think that most regular WordPress sites will be fine with the Personal license as it includes the most important feature (SEO Pack add-on).
Final Thoughts on TranslatePress
Overall, TranslatePress makes it very easy to create an SEO-friendly, easily navigable multilingual WordPress site.
If I had to summarize TranslatePress’s strong points in comparison to other WordPress multilingual plugins, it would be these:
- The visual translation interface is super simple to use – you can translate pretty much anything on your site using point and click.
- It offers out-of-the-box compatibility to translate content from pretty much any theme or plugin. Because it works by scanning your site’s frontend code, it doesn’t matter how the plugin stores its data (which can affect translation with some other plugins).
- You can use manual translation or automatic translation from Google Translate or DeepL.
- All of your translation data still stays on your own server and in your site’s database. The other popular tool that uses a similar approach relies on serving translations from the cloud.
If you want to try it out, the free version at WordPress.org gives you access to pretty much all of the core functionality, including the visual translation editor and Google Translate support.
However, if you want to use multilingual SEO as a marketing strategy, I definitely recommend upgrading to at least the Personal license. You’ll also need this license if you want to add more than one new language.
More serious businesses might prefer the Business license. This is especially true if you have any type of restricted content site with multiple membership levels, because you’ll definitely want the Browse as User Role add-on.
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