As the usage of WordPress continues to grow exponentially on a global level, so does the need for proper multilingual capabilities on WordPress websites.
Having your site’s content available in several languages makes business sense, after all. In a time when businesses are competing in a global market, you don’t want to leave any potential customers out in the cold just because you haven’t provided content in their native language.
Luckily, WordPress can be a joy to use when creating multilingual content, chiefly due to the presence of a fantastic plugin, aptly named WPML (WordPress Multilingual).
WPML Review: Here’s the 101
Before we delve deeper, let me just give you some points on why I am in love with this plugin:
- WPML was the first plugin to offer a complete multi-language solution to WordPress users.
- WPML was created by a translation company that knows how the translation process works.
- WPML has a fantastic support team behind it, ready to help you out.
- WPML releases regular updates and improvements, keeping it up-to-date with new WordPress releases.
- WPML’s feature set is simply unparalleled by any other plugin out there and includes amazing automatic translation powered by DeepL, Google, or Microsoft.
- WPML costs only $99 for the CMS version and $39 for the Blog version. If you run an agency, there’s a version for unlimited sites for $199.
I think you get the idea, this is one damn solid plugin. Let’s dig deeper and see what this plugin is all about.
WPML Review: Installation & Setup
WPML comes with a handy installer plugin. The installer allows you to register the plugin and install all the components you need.
Once you install and activate that one plugin, you’ll see all of WPML’s components. Start by installing the WPML Multilingual CMS plugin, which is the main one you need.
With the Multilingual CMS plugin installed, you’ll see a message to configure WPML. This starts an easy-to-use setup wizard that walks you through setting up WPML on your site.
Off we go then to start configuring. The first step is to choose the languages of your site. WPML comes with 65 pre-configured languages, or you can add your own custom languages or language variations.
Next is choosing how you want the languages to be set up in your URL. With WPML you get three options, and all of them are good. Personally, I prefer the ‘Language directories’ option as I find it the cleanest. These are the three options:
- Language directories (like wpml.org/es/ for Spanish and wpml.org/de/ for German).
- Different domains per language
- A language parameter added to the URL
A common concern is which URL setup is best for SEO purposes. In reality, they are all good in terms of SEO. If you’re interested, read more about what URL strategy is best for SEO purposes.
The next step is to register your site, which you already did when you activated the OTGS Installer plugin. If you haven’t registered it yet, you can get your site key by clicking Get a key for this site. Easy, right?
Next, you get to decide how to translate your site. You can really choose any way you want, thanks to two amazing translation modes:
- Translate Everything Automatically does just what it sounds like. It immediately translates all your site’s content using automatic translation. Additionally, If you update your content, WPML updates the translations instantly. Your translations are never out of date, and you never have to translate anything.
- If you want more control over what gets translated, choose Translate What You Choose. With this mode, you pick which pages, posts, and other content gets translated from the Translation Management Dashboard. Not only do you still have access to WPML’s amazing automatic translation, you can also add your own translations, add other translators to your site, or connect with a professional translation service.
In the final step of the setup wizard, WPML suggests add-on plugins based on the plugins you already have installed on your site. Altogether, these additional WPML components make it possible to translate content from those plugins.
That’s it, setup is complete. I didn’t need to read any guides up till here, it was all very straightforward and intuitive.
Wondering about a language switcher? WPML puts a language switcher in your site’s footer by default, but there are plenty of other ways to add one to your site, too.
WPML Review: How to Use WPML
You have five options for translating the contents of your website:
You can translate content yourself using the Advanced Translation Editor – a handy side-by-side translation editor with advanced features like spellcheck, HTML-free formatting, and a glossary.
Add translators to your site and you can easily send them content to translate from the Translation Management Dashboard. They can also easily review automatic translations.
WPML partners with dozens of professional translation services that provide top-notch quality translations. You can send content directly to them from the Translation Management Dashboard, and they can upload the translations directly to your site.
If you want to have different content in your secondary languages – not just a direct translation – or, if you have the Multilingual Blog account type, you can create new posts or pages that are linked to the original as translations.
Having such features makes WPML ideal for the smallest website to the biggest WordPress-based news or magazine websites.
Most people will probably want to try automatic translation since it’s the quickest and easiest way to translate your whole site – especially if you don’t speak any other languages.
Of course, you can use automatic translation by choosing the Translate Everything Automatically mode during the setup. As soon as the setup is complete, WPML gets to work translating your site.
If you want to Translate What You Choose, simply pick the pages and posts you want to translate, the languages you want to translate them into and choose Translate automatically.
Automatic translation isn’t free – it costs credits to use it – but when you purchase WPML, you get a big package of free credits to try it out. Plus, if you sign up for the pay-as-you-go option, you get your first 2,000 credits for free each month.
WPML Review: Reliability & Support
WPML is super stable and won’t cause any problems to your site’s performance or SEO optimization. This is a plugin that has been performing consistently well for a number of years, so you can rest assured that you are building on solid ground.
A website’s content is its most valuable and important component, so you need to be sure that whichever multilingual plugin you choose will work well not only now but also a few years down the line. That’s why a proper team backed by a successful company is so important for a multilingual plugin. In the case of WPML, it is backed by OnTheGoSystems, which is the company that is the creator of the Toolset suite of plugins.
If anything does go wrong, WPML has a world-class support team ready to help 6 days a week. You won’t have any problem getting answers to your questions, as WPML support is fully staffed and there’s always someone ready to supply help when you need it. Few other plugin developers can count on a support department as efficient as that of WPML.
True to their multilingual roots, WPML provides support not only in English, but also in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Italian, Hebrew, and Arabic.
WPML Review: Pricing
As mentioned earlier, WPML comes in three flavors, the Multilingual Agency, Multilingual CMS, and the Multilingual Blog version.
If you have a blog and want to translate it yourself, the Multilingual Blog version will give you the most important component and will let you provide multilingual content to your users using manual translation.
On the other hand, for any other website, I highly recommend purchasing the Multilingual CMS account as you get full features with no compromises. At that price, it’s a real steal for the functionality that you’re getting.
It allows you to translate every aspect of your site, right from within the WordPress admin panel. Your clients will be able to use WPML’s advanced translation management capabilities, which include translator roles, job queues, and email notifications. You can use automatic translation, translate content from page builders, and can translate WooCommerce stores. Did I mention there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee?
WPML Review: Showcase
The proof is in the pudding as they say, so be sure to check out a few WordPress sites that have implemented multilingual functionality using WPML. Browse around and see how easy it is to switch languages for a user.
WPML is hands-down the best multilingual plugin I’ve used. It takes the potential complexities of translation out of the equation and leaves us with a pleasant way of adding more than one language to a website or blog.
I hope this review helps you in deciding whether WPML is for you or not. If you have any questions please go ahead and ask away in the comments section, I’ll update the review periodically if I need to add more information that is requested by WP Mayor readers.