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How to Translate WordPress Websites: A Step-By-Step Guide

Translating your WordPress website is one of the ways to expand your target audience and online presence. By using translation plugins, you can easily build a multilingual site. Read on, as this article will show you how to translate WordPress websites with no hassle.

Why Translate Your WordPress Website?

Having an English website with great content should be enough to attract visitors or rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs). However, there are certain cases where you might want to translate it to benefit your business, such as:

  • Localization. Let’s say your company has a branch that is located in Germany, but your main site is in English. You may want to localize your content to gain the favors of the local audience.
  • Multilingual website. If you’re planning to market your brand to a wider audience and expand your business, offering multiple language options on your website is the way to go.
  • Enhance organic traffic. By catering to non-English readers, you’ll be attracting visitors from around the globe.

Translate Your WordPress Website With Plugins

Now that we’ve covered the reasons and benefits of translating WordPress sites, let’s get started on the practical part of this tutorial.

It may seem like a lot of work at first. But, by relying on WordPress translation plugins, the process is quite simple.

There are two kinds of translation plugins:

  • Manual translation plugins. If you have a dedicated translation team, then plugins that can help you manually add translations are much more preferable. Although it takes more time and effort, you can expect better quality results.
  • Automatic translation plugins. WordPress also has plugins that are preprogrammed to translate your content using automated translation services. It’s a far quicker method – but the quality may be questionable.

We’ll show our list of the best WordPress translation plugins along with the steps to translate your site, both manually and automatically.

1. PolyLang

PolyLang homepage.

PolyLang allows you to translate the majority of your site –  from posts, pages, titles, meta descriptions, URLs, to SEO attributes. It will automatically download WordPress language packs, and it supports RLT language scripts.

The workflow in this plugin is similar to the WordPress dashboard, as it’s based on the WordPress taxonomy feature. Learning to use the plugin won’t take as much time.

Flexibility is also another aspect PolyLang does well. You can decide whether to display different languages based on content, subdirectory, or subdomain.

The plugin has a free version, but you can also get the PolyLang Pro for $110 to extend its features.

Here’s how you can manually translate your WordPress site with PolyLang:

  1. From your dashboard, go to Plugins -> Add New and type in “PolyLang” in the search bar. Install the plugin and Activate it.
  2. Head over to Languages -> Languages and choose a language from the dropdown menu – the plugin will fill all the other fields for you. Then, press the Add new language button. You can add as many languages as you want.
  3. On the right panel, tap the Star button on the chosen language you want to set as default.
  4. Go to Languages -> String translations to translate all the available texts throughout your site. Each string can be a part of a plugin, theme, or WordPress core features. For example, widget title, tagline, site title, menu item, etc.
    String translation in PolyLang.
  5. Navigate to Posts -> All Posts to translate your content. Select an article and expand the Settings panel.
  6. Find the Languages tab and press the Plus symbol of the language you want to add.  Type in the translation of the post on the new post editor.
    Translating a post with PolyLang.
  7. Go to Posts -> Categories and click the Plus button on a category to add a translation.
    Translating categories with PolyLang.
  8. Lastly, head over to Appearance -> Widgets and find the Language Switcher on the available widgets list.
  9. Select the location where you want to display the widget (footer, sidebar, etc.). Add a title and customize it as you see fit. Click Save.
    Adding the PolyLang language switcher.

Once you’re done with all the steps above, check your website to see the Language Switcher in action.

PolyLang also offers an add-on translation network called Lingotek to make the process easier. It gives you the option to hire professionals to translate your website or use an automatic translator machine.

2. Translate WordPress with GTranslate

The homepage of GTranslate.

If you want an automated translation service that’s powered by Google, GTranslate is the right choice.

It comes with 109 languages to help you attract a broader audience and generate sales from all around the world. Plus, the configuration can be done in less than a few minutes from your WordPress dashboard.

Visitors can pick a language from the customizable language selector. You can make it a simple dropdown menu, a menu with language codes, a list of flags, and so on.

What’s more, GTranslate also integrates with Google Analytics and works well with WooCommerce pages.

It’s a freemium translation plugin that you can rely on for creating a multilingual site with no stress. The paid version will set you back between $5.99 and $34.99 per month. It offers features such as URL translation, search engine indexing, and neural translation for better translation quality.

Follow the steps below to automatically translate a WordPress site with GTranslate:

  1. Make your way to Plugins -> Add New and type in “GTranslate” in the search box. Then, Install and Activate the GTranslate plugin.
  2. Navigate to Settings -> GTranslate to add languages, set the appearance of your widget, enable Google Analytics, and so on. Click Save Changes once you’re done.
    Configuring the GTranslate setting.
  3. Go to Appearance -> Widgets and add the GTranslate Language Switcher to your sidebar, header, or footer. Or, use the shortcode [gtranslate] and place it anywhere on your website.
  4. Visit your site and check if the language switcher is working.

3. TranslatePress

TranslatePress homepage.

Can’t settle between an automatic or a manual translation plugin? Look no further than TranslatePress.

It’s a freemium translation plugin that offers you the WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) interface. You don’t have to go back and forth between pages while translating your WordPress site.

TranslatePress also has an Automatic User Language Detection add-on. It instantly redirects visitors to a specific language based on their IP addresses.

The core plugin is free to download, and the price range for the paid version is $88.2/year to $222.18/year. If you choose one of the paid versions, you’re eligible for tons of useful features such as DeepL integration and the freedom to edit machine-translated content.

One unique point is that you can still keep the translations even when you don’t renew your license.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned how to translate WordPress websites with plugins, which one suits you best? Each plugin comes with pros and cons that you need to weigh in. Let’s take a quick look at each plugin and its best features:

  1. PolyLang. A manual translation plugin that is lightweight and doesn’t take long to get used to. The framework is based on the taxonomy feature already present on WordPress.
  2. GTranslate. Provides an automatic translation service that you can set up in a jiffy – just add the languages you want, and put the shortcode on your site. It also has various types of language switcher – floating widget, dropdown, alternative flags, etc.
  3. TranslatePress. It’s both a manual and an automatic translation plugin. You can translate your WordPress site through the front-end to ease the editing process.

Creating a multilanguage site will help you overcome any language barrier and attract more traffic. Good luck!

The Author

Author

Ananda Ganesha M. / @ganesha

Ananda Ganesha Maaruf is a digital content writer who loves WordPress and hosting. For years he worked on WordPress projects and then combined that experience with his writing talent to educate Hostinger's users. Aside from writing, he often finds himself searching every nook and cranny for the best all-you-can-eat buffet deals.

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