How to Create a Multilingual WordPress Site + Useful Tips

One of the main advantages of using a website to run your business or publishing content is that you can reach more people no matter their location. However, your website should present content in multiple languages to get even more users.

Unfortunately, creating a WordPress multilingual site can be tricky. To help you out, we will share some tips for creating a multilingual site and show how to do so with and without a plugin.

First, let’s take a look at why making a multilingual WordPress website is important.

Why Is Having a Multilingual WordPress Website Important?

As your website grows, depending on the traffic from a single location or demographic might not be sustainable anymore. At some point, you will need to branch out and reach more potential customers who speak other languages.

That is where setting up a multilingual WordPress site comes in handy. A multilingual website allows visitors who speak different languages to read your site content and share it with a wider audience.

Doing so will also improve your brand awareness and make growing the website easier.

Advantages of Multilingual WordPress Site

Besides allowing more visitors to use your website, here are four benefits you can get from having a multilingual site:

Improve SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial part of improving your site’s exposure, and having a multilingual website may help boost it. This is because when you translate the same content into different language versions, search engines may crawl and index them as different pieces of content.

This practice is known as multilingual SEO. With this method, a single piece of content appears on different search engine results pages (SERPs) and potentially gains more clicks.

Multilingual SEO often overlaps with multiregional SEO, which is a method of adjusting your content’s elements and context to fit a specific geographic area better.

In addition to the content language, Multilingual SEO deals with other backend elements like the URL structure and hreflang tags.

Enhance User Experience

Presenting your website content in more than one language helps more visitors to navigate the site properly. Language is one of the main components in a website’s UX design that allows users to understand the texts on a web page, as well as other visual elements that interact with them.

Create Trust and Credibility

Having a multilingual WordPress site helps create a sense of trust and credibility among your potential customers. In fact, around 76% of clients prefer to buy products with information in their native language.

The research also showed that the majority of respondents would be more likely to be repeat customers if a website provided customer services in their own language.

Boost Conversions

Whether you sell products on your website or monetize the content, the main goal of your marketing effort is to increase conversions.

Providing potential customers with different languages helps them to fully understand your website and gain confidence in getting your product.

It is relatively easier to direct website visitors to the preferred money pages when you send the messages in their native language. A multilingual site also gives a sense of inclusivity and a degree of personalization.

Around 86% of buyers admit that personalization plays a key role in influencing their purchase decision. This can be even more advantageous when it is not the norm amongst your competitors.

What Should You Translate?

After learning the advantages of a multilingual WordPress site, you may wonder where you should start adding multiple languages to it. In this section, we will look at four main site elements you should translate to have a proper multilingual website.

Text Content

Having multiple language versions of your site content is a must and typically the top priority since it covers most of the website. Website content includes blog posts, menus, terms of services, product descriptions, and the About Us page.

The most common approach is to translate every visible text on your web pages to the target language. Make sure that the translated content follows the target language’s formatting. Don’t forget to also adapt measurement units and currencies.

One of the biggest challenges when translating website content is to adjust some contexts to the cultural norms and values of the target audience. Without the right context adjustment, even an accurate literal translation can confuse readers.

For this reason, we recommend using a WordPress multilingual plugin and then hiring professional translators or asking for help from a native speaker to review the translated version.

SEO Metadata

SEO Metadata covers elements such as your content’s meta title and description. The former is an HTML tag that describes what the article is about. Meanwhile, the meta description can help attract clicks from search engine users.

Therefore, you may lose significant traffic if you don’t provide meta descriptions in multiple languages. People will assume that your content is unavailable in their preferred language and not click on the search result.

While adding SEO metadata manually in WordPress is possible, we recommend using a plugin to make it easier. Some popular WordPress plugins for this include Yoast SEO and All in One SEO.

Images

Nowadays, around 40% of Google’s SERP features images. Therefore, you must also adjust images in your web pages to improve your SEO effort.

Visual elements like pictures have alt texts or alt descriptions that allow search engines to understand their context in correlation with the overall content. You will need to translate these alt texts to implement multilingual SEO strategies properly.

Don’t forget to translate their file names to the target language as well. For example, an image called flower.png in the English version should be translated to blume.png in the German version of the page.

URLs

Multilingual websites also need to translate their URLs or slugs to match the target localization’s languages. Since these slugs typically contain keywords for the content, translating them can help you to appear higher in SERPs and get more clicks.

For example, take a look at Hostinger’s about us URLs for different languages:

English:

https://www.hostinger.com/about

French:

https://www.hostinger.fr/a-propos

German:

https://www.hostinger.de/uber-uns

Keep in mind that it is safer to use regular characters instead of specific letters when translating URLs to languages like Japanese or Arabic. This is because special characters might cause issues with some third-party tools like plugins.

Making a Multilingual WordPress Site Using the Weglot Plugin

The easiest way to create a WordPress multilingual site is by using a plugin. For this tutorial, we will use Weglot as an example.

Weglot is a popular WordPress multilingual plugin with more than 60 thousand active users worldwide. This plugin allows you to translate your site into 110 different languages easily. It offers various essential features, including block editor compatibility, SEO functionalities, and a customizable language switcher.

Now, let’s take a look at the step-by-step process of using this WordPress plugin to create a multilingual WordPress site.

Set Up the Plugin

Before you start using Weglot for your multilingual WordPress site, you need to create an account on their website. They offer a 10-day free trial which is great for those who want to explore the plugin’s features risk-free.

Weglot homepage banner

After that, access the setup wizard by clicking on the link sent to your email and follow the steps below:

  1. Create a project name and choose the website platform you are using. For this step, select WordPress from the Website Technology dropdown menu.
  2. Once you are done with the project name and platform, click Next.
Weglot create a project
  1. On the next screen, Weglot will present an API key to integrate your website with the Weglot service. For now, let’s continue the process by installing the plugin. You can download it from the WordPress plugin repository or the Weglot website.
  2. Once you install and activate the plugin, head over to the new Weglot menu in your WordPress dashboard and input the API key you got from the previous step to the available field.
  3. This is also where you choose the default and target languages for your website. After that, click Save Changes.
Weglot input API key

Now you can access Weglot’s features from your WordPress admin dashboard. That’s it – you can start configuring the plugin and creating translations for your website content.

Configure the Plugin’s Settings

Some of Weglot’s configuration options are accessible from the WordPress admin dashboard. Here users can customize the look of the floating language switcher. The plugin offer options such as changing flag icons and displaying language name.

Weglot configure language button design

Other than that, Weglot also allows you to change the position of your language switcher. With the WordPress built-in feature, you can place it as a menu or a widget.

It is also possible to place the language switcher in a custom area using a shortcode in the block editor or by editing the HTML source code.

Weglot language button position configuration

In its default setting, Weglot translates every page on your website. However, you can exclude specific pages or blocks by inputting them into the translation exclusion options.

Weglot translation exclusion

The last section of the page contains some additional options that may improve your multilingual site’s user experience. These include features like automatic redirection that takes users to the specific localized version of the site based on their web browser’s language.

You can also allow users to use the search function on your site using their native language. Additionally, Weglot can translate additional content like the accelerated mobile pages (AMP) and emails under the wp_mail function.

Weglot additional options

Take a look at each of these settings and make changes as you see fit. Don’t forget to save the changes once you are finished.

Translate Your Website Content

Now that you have configured the plugin, it is time to start translating your WordPress site. There are three common methods to translate your website content:

  1. Translate it yourself – manual translation requires language proficiency and can be time-consuming. However, it is the most cost-friendly option.
  2. Use professional translation services – hiring a certified translator can give you quality translations that are more accurate and reliable. However, this service might be costly.
  3. Use machine translation tools – tools like Google Translate can provide free and fast automatic translation services. Keep in mind that their quality can be poor.

Most WordPress multilingual plugins allow you to combine these three methods to create the best translation for your website. For example, Weglot provides its users with an advanced machine translation along with options to edit the translated page using human translation.

To begin your first translation, head over to the Weglot menu on your WordPress admin sidebar and click on the Edit My Translation button.

Weglot edit translation button on WordPress dashboard

The plugin will direct you to the translation editor page on your Weglot dashboard. It is also possible to access this page by logging in to your Weglot account. From here, you can manage translations for individual words and phrases on your multilingual site.

By default, Weglot will use automatic translations for these words and phrases, but you can edit the results as you see fit.

Weglot translation editor

Weglot also offers a visual editor to edit translated pages directly within your WordPress website. Just head over to Translations > Visual Editor on your Weglot dashboard.

Weglot visual editor menu

Here, you can easily replace inaccurate words or phrases within the blog post or the navigation menu as you scan through the page.

Weglot visual editor

Additional Translation Features

Weglot also offers other advanced features to help you produce more accurate translated content. Using the Glossary tool, you can ensure some words or phrases stay in their default language.

Weglot glossary dialog box

It is possible to set the rule to always translate for certain words or phrases, and Weglot will replace them across your multilingual WordPress site.

Users with the premium version of this translation plugin can translate URL slugs for their multilingual posts easily using the built-in feature.

Weglot’s automatic translation is based on some of the best machine learning providers, including Microsoft, DeepL, Google, and Yandex, depending on the target language. However, users can order a professional translation service directly through their Weglot account.

This service can give you more accurate translation results since it involves translators from trusted professional agencies. Users can order professional translation services starting from €0.13/word, depending on the language pair.

How to Make a Multilingual WordPress Site Without a Plugin

With enough technical knowledge, it is also possible to create a WordPress multilingual site manually without additional tools like plugins. However, it can be an extensive process since It involves setting up a WordPress multisite.

Instead of including content translation in the same website, this method requires you to create separate sites with new languages. Once you activate multisite on your WordPress installation, go to the Network Admin dashboard.

WordPress multisite Network Admin dashboard

After that, click on Sites on the sidebar. Here you can add a new site by clicking on the Add New button.

Add a new site on WordPress multisite dashboard

Fill out the details for your new site. The URL structure would differ slightly depending on your chosen option during the multisite setup process. We recommend adding only the language code for the site to make it simple and easy to identify.

In this example, we use de for the German site’s URL.

New site details on WordPress multisite dashboard

Input the other details, and don’t forget to set the site language to the same language. Here, we use Deutsch because it will be a German site. After you finish, click on the Add Site button at the bottom. A new entry will appear on the Sites list.

Repeat this process for other site languages if you have more than one.

New site entry under sites list on WordPress multisite dashboard

Configure the new site by adding content, activating plugins, and applying themes to match everything on the main site. You will have to do all of these manually.

The final step is to allow language switching for site visitors. One way to do this is by adding custom links to the translated site on the default language homepage. Open the main site’s dashboard and go to Appearance > Menus.

Here, click on the Custom Link tab under the Add menu items section. Add the URL to your translated website and input the navigation label for the link, then click Add to Menu.

Add custom link to WordPress navigation bar

That’s it – your multilingual WordPress site is ready to use.

Conclusion

WordPress multilingual sites come with numerous benefits for those who want to reach a wider audience base and provide a better user experience.

In this article, we have gone through the step-by-step process of creating a multilingual WordPress website with two different methods. Using multilingual plugins like Weglot is the easiest way since they streamline the process and give you additional features.

It is also possible to create multilingual WordPress websites without additional tools. However, you need some technical knowledge to manually modify some files in the WordPress backend.

We hope this article has helped you to create a multilingual WordPress site with any method you choose. Check out our other WordPress tutorials for more useful tips and tricks regarding the CMS.

Multilingual WordPress FAQ

Here are some of the most common questions regarding a multilingual WordPress site.

How to Translate My WordPress Admin Area?

Open the WordPress dashboard and go to Users > Profile. Here, users can access various options to customize their WordPress admin interface. The language option can be found at the bottom of the page.

What Are WordPress Translation Plugins?

Translation plugins are additional tools that allow WordPress users to translate their website content. They typically offer options to automatically translate content with the help of tools like Google Translate or input the translation files manually.

Some examples of WordPress translation plugins include GTranslate, TranslatePress, and Loco Translate.

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The author

Prasasti P.

Pras is a Digital Content Writer at Hostinger. With his IT education and experience as a website administrator, he hopes to share his knowledge with other tech enthusiasts. In his free time, Pras likes to play video games.