How to Make Your WordPress Website Multilingual

When it comes to making your WordPress website multilingual, you have a few great options available to you. While there is no standard support for bi- or multilingual blogging, some free and commercial plugins make it easy to offer your readers a choice of languages when visiting your website.

Depending on your needs and the type of website you’re running, a free plugin may suffice. On the other hand, if your project is more advanced or you think you’ll require more assistance along the way, then opting for a commercial product might be a better solution.

In this article, we will be taking a closer look at the best multilingual plugins for WordPress to help you decide which one is the right choice for your project.

How Do Multilingual WordPress Plugins Work?

The goal of any good multilingual plugin is to allow you to publish multiple versions of your website and its content, in more than one language or dialect. This will be your first step in reaching international audiences.

This could be as basic as offering your readers the choice of either American or British English, or as complex as offering your English language website in a right-to-left language, with its own script, such as Arabic or Hebrew.

Depending on which plugin you choose, your WordPress website could be able to detect which language is the best option for a visitor and automatically display it. You can also give your readers the choice, allowing them to switch languages at the touch of a button.

In most cases, no matter which multilingual plugin you choose, you will still be responsible for adding the content to your website in different languages. Unfortunately, most won’t translate your content for you. Those that do rely on automatic translation services, which often leave a lot to be desired.

That said, one plugin, in particular, makes it very easy to find translators right from within your WordPress dashboard.

Now that you have a brief overview of what multilingual WordPress plugins have to offer, here are some of the popular options available to you.

WPML

Multilingual Plugins WPML

It’s fair to say that WPML is the professional choice for creating a multilingual WordPress website. This plugin has been around for many years and is well established.

With this plugin installed on your site, you can offer each post, page and custom post type in multiple languages. WPML will use the visitor’s browser language to determine which version of your content should be shown. However, you still have the option of allowing the visitor to override this automatic decision through a simple link.

WPML isn’t free to use. However, it is available on a number of pricing plans that start at just $29. Amongst the more advanced features, you will have to pay extra for support on eCommerce websites.

Although there is plenty of online documentation available for WPML, as this is a premium option, your license fee gives you access to the support team should you need any assistance planning or implementing the multiple language versions of your website.

Polylang

Multilingual Plugins Polylang

Polylang is the most popular free WordPress multilingual plugin, both in terms of usage numbers and user rating.

This plugin allows you to translate all aspects of your WordPress website, including the back-end area, into additional languages. Like WPML, there’s also a feature in Polylang that lets you connect with professional translation services to outsource the creation of your multilingual content.

Polylang is a flexible option as you are able to manage the different language versions of your content via a language code in the URL, on a subdomain, or on a different domain altogether. While the plugin will auto-detect which language to display, you also have the option of displaying a language switcher in the navigation or widget areas of your website.

As this is a free plugin, support is offered via the WordPress Plugin Directory forums. While it appears the team is quick to respond to queries, this might not be satisfactory for commercial projects.

Translate WordPress with GTranslate

Translate WordPress with GTranslate is a free or paid multilingual WordPress plugin that will automatically translate your content into your desired language using Google Translate. As anyone who has used services like this will know, the results aren’t often the best. If you want to manually edit the translation, you have to get the paid version.

If you want to give the translation process a head start and the results don’t need to be perfect, this is an option you might want to try.


WPML and Polylang are the two main contenders for anyone serious about creating an internationalized WordPress website. There isn’t much to separate the two, so if you have any specific requirements, then it’s recommended that you scour the feature lists to see which option will serve you best.

If you do need access to a premium support service and the comfort offered by a commercial product then WPML might be your best option. But, if not, you should definitely explore both plugins to see which one matches your requirements the best.

What features are you looking for in a multilingual plugin? What are your thoughts on using an automated translation service? Which languages are you planning to offer your site in?  Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

2 Comments

  1. david
    david

    Hi Joe, thanks for this intro to wordpress multi-language.
    What I’d like to do on my wordpress site is setup a multilingual forum where each person’s signin details would include his language preference, which would allow him to view or add comments in his own language – everybody would see the same forum, but each in his own language.
    Is this feasable? Any thoughts how I might approach this project?
    Thanks
    David

    Reply

  2. Niels Arts
    Niels Arts

    Maybe interesting to mention is Shoptranslate.com, made especially for woocommerce shops It works with multiple domains and you can setup pricing rules for different countries. Free to use and you can either use Google translate, your own translations ór professional translations…

    Reply