How To Translate Your WordPress Site

how-to-translate-your-wordpress-site

The World Wide Web is a huge place where you can reach an audience anywhere in the world. Whilst English is the most common language used for content on websites at roughly 54%, it only accounts for 25.9% of the users according to W3 Techs. A large part of our users are bi-lingual and have clients locally and internationally as they seek out beautiful destinations for their big day.

This can lead to the dilemma, what language do you use on your site? Thankfully with WordPress you no longer face this issue, you can translate your entire website into multiple languages with the help of some useful plugins and or services. In the following article we will show you how to use the Weglot and WPML plugins to allow you to translate your site, to maximize your website traffic by improving user experience, expanding your audience and potentially even ranking better for local SEO.

Choosing the right WordPress translation plugin

There are an array of plugins available on the WordPress.org repository that will allow you to translate your site. However not all things are equal and this is the case for translation plugins. When choosing a WordPress translation plugin you should look for a number of key features to make sure that it’s going to do the job for you:

  • Supported and up to date – make sure that the plugin is up to date with the most recent versions of WordPress and that they have an active support team.
  • SEO Friendly – it should allow your content to be readable and suitable for multilingual SEO
  • Supported Languages – check that the languages you wish to translate to are supported
  • Ease of use – no one wants to code when translating their site, find one that is going to make the process a breeze
  • Automatic or manual translations – automatic translation plugins are a great tool to translate a site quickly, but we all know how wrong translations on the web can go. Make sure that your plugin lets you edit translations manually so you don’t any some errors on your site.

Having worked with various translation plugins over the last 5 years, we have found 2 that tick all the boxes for WordPress translations, Weglot and WPML. In the rest of this guide we are going to show you how to use Weglot or WPML to translate your WordPress website.

Translating your site with Weglot

Weglot is one of the fastest growing WordPress Multilingual plugins with over 20k users and a rating of 5 stars. Weglot offers translations for over 100 languages out of the box offering both automatic and manual translation options.

You can sign up for free with Weglot and translate up to 2000 words before you need a subscription service. Subscriptions for 1 language and up to 10,000 translated words start from 9.90 euro per month or if paying yearly 99 euro.

If you want to know how many words you have on your current site, check out the Weglot Word count tool.

Getting started with Weglot is simple just follow the steps below.

Step 1 – Install Plugin

First go to your WordPress dashboard, then go to Plugins > Add New and search for “Weglot” and then select the “Install Now” button:

translate wp site weglot

Once ready, you can activate the plugin.

Step 2 – Get your API Key

At this point you will need to sign up for a free account. Just add your email and password, then confirm your email address and you’ll be given access to an API key:

get API key weglot

Step 3 – Plugin Configuration

Now go back to your WordPress site and navigate to the Weglot configuration page, there will be a Weglot tab in your WordPress menu. Add your API Key, choose your original language and choose the languages you want to translate to (destination languages):

weglot plugin configuration

That’s it, the configuration is complete. You will now have the language switcher on the bottom of your site, and the language prefix for your added language in the URL, in our case DE for German. Weglot will already have translated parts of the site that it could understand:

multilingual site example

Step 4 – Additional Settings

Hiding the Translation Menu

At this point, you may want to hide the translation switcher until you have checked the site, and updated any text manually. To do this, go back to the settings area in WordPress, and scroll down to the Optional Settings section, and enable “Private Mode”:

weglot other options

Language Switcher Button Styling

You can change the button styling via the Weglot settings area also, scroll down to “Language Button Design”. There are options for making the button a drop down, with or without flags, adding the language name and full name, the type of flag and even options to style it further if you know some CSS:

weglot language button design

Adding the Language Switcher as a Menu Item

If you want to have the language switcher as a menu item instead of at the footer, you can go to Appearance > Menus, and find the “Weglot switcher” tab and add it to the menu.

This will remove the footer translation section automatically. Again it’s best to do this once you have actually translated the entire site:

weglot switcher

You can configure it further. Just drop down the item in the menu, and select the option for list view, or hide the current language:

menu switcher

Adding Language Switcher to Widgets

You also have the option of adding the language switcher to any widget areas (if your theme supports widgets). To do this go to Appearance > Widgets, and you’ll find the widget called “Weglot Translate” just drag this into any widget area you wish to use it and add a title:

language switcher widgets

Excluding Pages from Translation

There may be cases where you want to exclude pages from translations, for example your privacy policies, terms and conditions, or anything that has technical language or wording that you don’t have a direct translation for.

To exclude any URL from translation, go to Weglot, then scroll down to “Translation Exclusion (Optional)” and click on “Add a URL to exclude” then add the URL. It only has to be the last part of the URL. For example if the page URL was flothemes.com/my-page/ you could just add /my-page/ and it will work.

translation exclusions

If you know a thing or two about irregular expressions you could also exclude multiple URL’s at once, but we won’t get into that in this article.

Now that you’ve added the plugin to your site, it should start to automatically translate it for you. You can review your sites new language, just use the language switcher to preview the translations. In the next section we show you how to review the translation options via the Weglot app, and how you can update them manually.

Translating your site

The translation for your site will be automatic with the language you have selected, it will be done via a machine translation. This could mean that all translations are not accurate and in this case you’ll want to review your translations to verify that they are correct, update anything that isn’t and remove translations that you don’t need.

There are 2 methods to edit translations, list views and the visual editor.

Using Weglot List View

The first option is using the translation list on the Weglot website, when logged in go to Translations List.

You will then see all the translations done for your site:

translation list weglot

You can see the default language, then beside it any translations in the additional languages. You can do several things to the translations, edit them, verify them, view the pages that they have been translated on, add suggestions, and even request professional translations for your words (prices start from 0.08 euro per word).

To edit any translation, just click on the words on the right, and update the text, then click anywhere outside the box to save, it will automatically update on your site, and it will change to “Human Reviewed”:

edit translation weglot

To delete or verify any translation, you can do so on the right hand side:

delete translation weglot

You can see the additional options by clicking the 3 stacked dots just above this also, view history, information (tells you which pages the translation was found), add a professional order (manual translation service), or view other possible suggestions for the translated text:

additional options translation weglot

Using the Visual Editor

Weglot has a great unique feature that you won’t get with most plugins, and it’s a delight for those of you who are visual. Introducing the second translation option the visual editor tool. With the visual editor tool you can review the site preview, and update text directly on any page.

Go to the visual editor tab:

visual editor weglot

Then you have 2 options select the translated language via your language switcher, or go directly to any page link and edit:

translation optiopn visual weglot

To edit any text, just hover over it, and click the green pencil icon, then update the translation directly:

text edit weglot

The text will update automatically on your site.

There you have it, 2 methods to translate your site with Weglot. You can use a combination of both options to make the translations for your site, personally we prefer the list view method so you can check all of the text on the site.

Weglot SEO

For those of you concerned about SEO, Weglot will add a unique URL for each version of your site, this means it can be indexed in that language, they add Hreflang tags so Google knows the different versions of the pages, they automatically translate the content server side and it’s directly in the code so it can be read properly, and they also automatically translate meta data and descriptions.

Read more about it here.

If you want to review the Meta Titles / Descriptions and Keywords, you can easily do so in the List View translation area, in the filter area on the left, click on content type, and then choose the option ↔ Meta (SEO), here you can make sure that the translations for your Meta Data descriptions and titles are correct:

weglot seo

So there you have it, Weglot a super simple and effective way to translate your website with both automatic and manual translations, it is SEO friendly and with the free plan you can translate up to 2,000 words for free.

For full documentation with Weglot for WordPress learn more here.

To see Weglot in use with our themes check out the following translated example – https://wordpress-translate.weglot.com/fiji2/fr/translated-blocks/

In the next section we discuss how you can use another premium WordPress plugin, probably the most commonly used translation plugin on the market, WordPress Multilingual known as WPML.

Translating your site with WPML

WPML is the best known translation plugin for multilingual sites on WordPress. It supports over 40 languages right out of the box and you can add your own languages as you go, it’s used by around 400,000 WordPress websites worldwide.

WPML allows you to translate your site on the same domain, a sub-domain, or even on an entirely different domain, giving you plenty of flexibility for your multilingual site. It is another premium plugin, starting from $29, plus extensions. We recommend the full version costing $79 as it has many benefits and much better translation options such as eCommerce support.

WPML offers both manual and automatic translations. As standard you can do the manual translations for your pages, posts etc on your site. If you want to have your site translated with a service, you can sync with ICanLocalize or Cloudwords services. It will send it to the service, and translate the site for you.

Their official documentation explains how to translate a site with their plugin. However we have extended the documentation here to explain better how you can translate all of your site with your WordPress.

Getting Started

First, you need to to purchase WPML Multilingual CMS and then you’ll want to install the following 3 plugins:

  • WPML Multilingual CMS
  • String Translation Module
  • Translation Management module

Learn how to Install Plugins Here.

Step 1 – WPML Basic Configuration

See the following video to get started with WPML, and read on for more details and info:

Now that you have the plugins installed on your site, you’ll want to start with the WPML setup wizard, to do this just go to the new WPML menu item in your WordPress dashboard.

First you can choose your websites existing language, WPML can also detect your current site language:

existing languages wpml

Next choose the languages you want for translation, just check the options you need (if your language isn’t here, it can be added later):

language for translations wpml

Now choose where you want to add the language switcher, this will allow your users to choose what language they view your site in:

add language switcher wpml

Finally you will need to register your plugin if you haven’t registered already, add the key and finish:

Step 2 – Translating WordPress Content

Now that you have setup and configured your languages, you will be able to start translating your content, including pages, blog posts, galleries and any other custom post types that you might have.

Making a translation is simple:

  1. Navigate to a page or post, and then in the sidebar, you’ll have a new “Language section” select duplicate, and hit duplicate button for the language of your choice:
  2. Now the page will reload and you will have a duplicate page option under translations, just hit the pencil icon:
  3. You will now be in the duplicate page with the original content, go ahead and update it as necessary:
  1. Repeat this process for all of your existing pages and content.
  2. When you go to your page or posts, you will now see the different languages and any content that has been translated:
IconCurrent statusAction
 The content is not yet translatedCreate a new translation and start editing it
 The content is already translated, and the translation is up-to-dateEdit the existing translation
 The content is translated, but the translation needs updatingEdit the existing translation
 The content is translated, but the translation needs updating, and a new translation is already in progressFurther action is not possible because a translation is already in progress
  1. You will also notice a + sign beside content that hasn’t been translated (shown above), if you hit this it will create the page in that language, however it will not add the existing page content (this is why we prefer to use the duplicate method to save time).
  • To add the existing content (it may not work with page builder themes like Flothemes, so make sure to use the duplicate method), go to the language meta section on the right and click on “copy content from English (or your main language)” and also add your new translated page title:

Step 3 – Translating Categories and Tags

Using categories and tags to structure your content? You’ll want to update those too. To do this go to WPML > Taxonomy Translation and choose the taxonomy to translate (categories and tags), then simply hit the plus button underneath the language you want to add a translation for:

translation categories and tags wpml

Step 4 – Translating Menu Items

Now that you have translated your content, you will want to translate your menus, check out the following video from WPML showing you exactly how to do that:

Read the full documentation here.

Step 5 – Translating Strings

Translating strings, this is content that you can’t adjust easily inside the WordPress editor, it could be from your theme settings, or global settings that you won’t find in your page content. To edit strings, make sure that you have added the extension “WPML String translation”.

Then you can navigate to WPML > String Translation, and at the top you can choose which strings to view, you’ll probably want to start with those that aren’t translated:

translating strings wpml

Now you can follow this 5 step process to update a string:

  1. View the string in your current language
  2. Hit translations
  3. Add the translation for the languages needed
  4. Confirm the translation is complete
  5. Hit save

You can repeat for the rest of the strings on the site.

See the following video showing this process in more detail.

Read full documentation on strings here.

So there you have it folks, that’s how you can translate your site using WPML. With WPML you have a lot of options and can really translate everything for your site, it’s drawback is that it’s not as easy to use as Weglot and the lack of an auto translate feature can mean that you spend a lot more time making translations.

It’s still the most comprehensive plugin on the market, just expect the process to take longer. If you want a professional to take care of the translation process for you, check out WPML translation services for more details.

https://wpml.org/translation-service/

Conclusion

Translating your WordPress site doesn’t have to be difficult. In this article we have shown you how to use the 2 most popular WordPress translation plugins on the market. If you’re after a tool that offers automatic and manual translations, then look no further than Weglot, if you want a tool that lets you translate every possible option with your site, then check out WPML, it’s harder to configure, but it definitely comes with some great options.

Now it’s time for you to start translating your site, increase your websites potential, and hopefully start converting more site visitors.

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