English may be the most spoken language in the world of the internet – with almost 30 percent share of total worldwide users. Therefore, if your site on WordPress is set up in English, and your blog posts or website content is in English, then you already have a significant size of a global audience that can read your content. The bad news though? You do not have the remaining 70 percent, more than 2 billion people. And most of them do not come from English-speaking countries, so they learn English as a third language or not at all.
When you look at it from that angle, that means there are more than 2 billion people out there who would be reading your content or at least be aware of your presence on the internet, but they do not.
The task is clearly a daunting one – after all, there are thousands of languages spoken in different regions of the world. You do not have to learn all those languages though; because there are WordPress plugins that are ready to save the day on your behalf.
In this article, we will examine the best multilingual plugins you can use for your WordPress site, but also look at the reasons why it is a good idea to translate your site.
Why must you bother translating your site anyway?
Here is one fact you must keep in mind as you read this article: English is losing its dominance as the language of trade and global choice. In decades before, the cultural influence of English was a predominantly strong one – no other language could compete with it in the global sphere. That imprint is still present to this day, as more than 50 percent of all content on the internet is in English.
The reality of the 21st century and even beyond is the aspect of globalization. As more cultures seek their spot in the global limelight, more languages are emerging as popular choices because more people are increasingly aware of other cultures.
In fact, today you will notice that markets that use English as their first language are becoming saturated when it comes to internet access – on the other hand, dozens of emerging markets who use English as a second, third or fourth language are increasing their internet connectivity.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Asian markets – especially Arabic and Chinese speakers. More of these people are joining the ranks of internet users, and the prominence of these two languages is starting to increase.
On the other hand, you also have major languages such as French (25.2 percent), Spanish (58.2 percent), Malay (34.5 percent) and Portuguese (50.1 percent), all which are adding millions of users to their roster.
Language remains a major selling point
Another fact you may also need to keep in mind is: more online users will not necessarily translate into more customers or clients.
You must attract potential clients to your offers, just as any other business would. The truth is, language plays a major role in converting your visitor into a customer.
In fact, a recent study showed that 56 percent of customers said that price was not the most important consideration when choosing a product to buy online; it was whether they could understand all the information on the product in their own languages.
What it means is this: you can achieve greater growth rates if you can speak the language of your clients.
What must you consider?
First of all, there are numerous translation plugins that you can use for your content, although they can be broadly categorized into two major groups. These are:
- The plugins that enable you to create multilingual content for your website. They have a major advantage, because they are more accurate that the online translation tools that provide automatic translations.
- The ones that use automatic translation services to translate your material. They do not need you to write the content in numerous languages, but they can make errors in translations.
Here are some of the factors you need to consider when setting up a translation plugin.
The translation process
Before choosing the plugin of choice, you need to ask yourself one major question – do you want to go with automatic or manual translations?
Manual translations are good, but they take more time because you need to write it entirely, or hire someone who is fluent in the language to do it for you. It is also more accurate because you can convey the message and additional language nuances more clearly.
Automatic translations, on the other hand, leave the computer to do the work, similar to how Google Translate operates. However, this means it can have errors and strange phrases in some instances.
It is also possible to have a combination of both since you may decide to have the automatic translation and fix any remaining errors, so select the plugin that fits your requirements.
It is also important to consider the SEO element. You will have a wider audience if you translate your articles and content – however, if the plugin you choose is not optimized for search engines, then you will not achieve much in increasing your reach.
Top 8 translation plugins for WordPress
We begin the list with one of the most famous translation plugins in WordPress. Even though you can only get it in its premium version, it still stays as a popular choice for many, since it has numerous features that help in creating a multilingual site.
Once you install it, it will allow you to define the languages you want to have on your site. Once you set them in place, the plugin will translate all your content through a side-by-side editor as you work on it. What makes it even better is that it allows you to translate all aspects of your site (not just your content), which means you can even modify the designs of your page builder, the texts on your widgets and theme, and so on.
Another advantage it has is that it makes your website and its content as SEO-friendly as possible, since it creates a unique version of your site that Google can index easily – therefore, making your website easily discoverable. Thanks to that, you can also structure all your translations through the use of URL parameters, subdirectories and various subdomains or domains.
The main question you may have is how exactly you can translate the existing and upcoming content on your site with this plugin. The focus is mostly on manual translations, but the plugin also gives you the option of translating automatically. This is due to the Translation Manager feature, which helps you to:
- Connect to third party translation services through your dashboard
- Create special users to do translations for your site, in case you want to hire someone.
There are two pricing plans the plugin offers – the $29 one that has automatic translations, and the $79 one if you are creating a serious website that seeks to reach out to a wider audience.
Check out WPML plugin here.
This has a significantly different approach to translations compared to most plugins you will find on WordPress. While it may be expensive for you, it also happens to be a highly convenient site that saves both your time and language resources.
It works through the following process:
- You connect the website to the Weglot cloud-based service
- Using automatic translation, Weglot translates the entire website
- Through the interface of Weglot, you can manually edit the automatic translations if you wish to (the interface is user friendly), or you may give the work to professional translators.
This plugin goes the extra mile to translate your site in other languages, even the seemingly minor details such as SEO Meta titles. In addition, it will create a URL structure that Google can index, and is friendly for SEO purposes.
The main advantages of this plugin include the fact that it is very easy to install, as it is user friendly, and it allows you to manually add details that the automatic translation has missed. In addition, it also makes your work of managing translations easier through the cloud interface, and allows you to outsource your work to professional translators.
The only disadvantage this seems to have is the pricing structure. Because Weglot uses SaaS billing services you are obligated to continue paying to use the service. In other words, there is a renewable fee you must pay at specified times, in contrast to many other plugins that use the system of a one-time fee.
On the other hand, Weglot has a free plan – although that is limited to 2000 words in one language. If you require extra services, be prepared to pay a monthly fee starting at €9.90 ($11.35).
Check out Weglot plugin here.
This is another popular choice, as it is actively in use in over 400,000 WordPress sites. What makes it even more popular is that it is free.
When you use the free version, most of the content on your site will get a translation. Note, we said most. It allows you to use a separate editor from WordPress, which allows you to translate anything it may miss, in addition to using string translations for your theme text and site titles.
All translated versions of the site are index-able by Google and SEO friendly. However, the free version cannot give you the benefit of translating your URLs, so you need to upgrade to the Pro version to do so.
Similar to other plugins for translating content, it only supports manual translation. If that is a problem for you, it allows you to integrate it with the Lingotek translation plugin (this is also from the same developer), and this will allow you to have professional or automatic translations at hand.
At the end of the day, Polylang is a nice choice to have because it is free and gives you a lot of benefits. However, the Weglot translation plugin is easier to use due to its user interface – although the ultimate choice will be yours to make.
Check out Polylang here.
4. qTranslate X
Thanks to the high average rating this plugin is getting from its users (it has a 4.8-star rating) and more than 100,000 installations, it is not surprising to see this plugin on the list of the best ones you can get.
It is similar to Polylang because it adds language switch fields in your WordPress editor, which helps you create translated pieces on the go without too much hassle. It also helps with SEO rankings, as it translates your URLs into friendly ones and allows you to reach greater audiences, while also including language-specific sitemaps through Yoast SEO. However, if you are looking for a free option, you can try out other services as well and see what they offer.
Some additional features on the plugin include:
- The addition of an easily customizable language switch widget
- The plugin has numerous languages built into it
- It can translate custom fields and widget titles through short codes
- Has automatic conversion of time and date format
- Uses one language for every URL you put out, as well as three formats of URLs (all god for SEO)
- You have access to language-specific sitemaps for Google XML Sitemaps
When compared to its closest competitor, Polylang, there is not much difference on the surface. However, you might notice two disadvantages it has compared to Polylang, which are:
- It lacks an easy way of translating global strings that you use on your WordPress site
- It does not give you a way of integrating other translation services or sync with them perfectly. For instance, integration with Lingotek is not the best you can find, although it is there.
Check out qTranslate X here.
This is much more basic than the other plugins here, at least when considering the free version. It does not give you a separate, multilingual option for the website, but instead gives you the classic drop-down widget that has flags of various countries to represent the languages. The user will then select the flag, and the plugin will translate everything using Google Translate automatically.
It has some benefits, such as:
- It does not take significant amounts of time to translate content
- It is a completely free option
- It allows you to include dozens of languages, as it is automatic
However, this approach does come with its own problems, such as:
- The automatic translations may not be the most accurate out there, especially in the free version. However, when you upgrade to the Pro version, it gives you the chance to manually correct some of the content.
- The translated content from the free version cannot be indexed on Google, as the free version lacks the ability to create SEO-friendly URLs. However, the Pro version does not have the same problem.
For the pro version, you can get it at a price range starting at $65 a year. The only disadvantage is that the site lacks SSL even in the premium version, which presents a major disadvantage when it comes to indexing.
Check out GTranslate here.
6. Loco Translate
In terms of its numbers, the Loco Translate plugin is the most popular on WordPress, getting more than 700,000 site users today. However it is not the same as other plugins, since it does not put its focus on giving the user full content translation management. Instead, it places greater focus on content localization.
That aspect makes it great for translation, but if you want a fully multilingual site, then it is better to work with another plugin. For instance, it lacks a language switcher. However, the benefit is that it allows you to translate the site into your native language, therefore helping you to localize the site.
For you to do so, the plugin has an in-dashboard PO editor. This is a highly popular method of translation that allows you to see the content in two panels – the original version on the right, and the translated version on the left. Using this feature, you translate every string manually, and there are useful shortcuts on the keyboard to speed up the process.
Check out Loco Translate plugin here.
This happens to be among the newer choices, and is a sort of hybrid between Polylang or WPML and Weglot. It has all the benefits you would get if you use Weglot, only that the difference is in form of the site using a one-time fee structure, and you can use it with your WordPress dashboard.
When you want to translate your content, the plugin provides you with a live front-end interface that bases itself on the WordPress customizer system. This allows you to translate everything on your site, right down to the image alt text (premium version only), Yoast SEO titles, as well as descriptions. The plugin will then put all the translations in form of SEO-friendly URLs, which allows Google to index them and make them discoverable.
The best aspect of this site though, would be that it gives you a chance for both manual and automatic translations. If you wish to use the automatic service, the plugin uses Google Translate API to do the job for you.
In addition, the TranslatePress site is completely self-hosted. This means that you can actually store all your translations in your own database, and you will not need to rely on external databases in the future. This sets it apart from translation plugins such as Weglot, which require you to use external services every time.
At the end of the day, this plugin is a good idea if you want a plugin that is:
- Thorough in its translations
- User friendly
- SEO friendly (although you can only find this in the pro version)
The free version is limited, but the Pro version starts from €79 ($90).
Check out TranslatePress here.
This plugin has a special approach to translating content – instead of achieving it within your system it creates unique language installs for every language you want through the WordPress Multisite.
Therefore, you can use it to create an unlimited number of relationships among different sites. For instance, your main site is Spanish-based, but you command MultilingualPress to link it to separate installs for Korean, German, Chinese or English.
Despite this (and it understandably sounds confusing), you do not need to switch your sites to edit any of your translations. The interface of this plugin allows you to edit everything through the original post editor, helping the process to be convenient for you.
One advantage it holds is that your work is safeguarded. For instance, in the event you want to uninstall the program, you do not need to worry about your hard work being lost. You will definitely lose the interface, but your hard work will exist forever – unless you decide to delete it yourself.
The product it puts out is also good for SEO rankings, because Google will index the complete translated version of the site easily. As for the plugins and themes you have as additions, the MultilingualPress contains a feature that allows you to sync your plugin settings across all the sites you have.
Even though this site might seem complex when you are a beginner on WordPress, you can soon get the hang of it quickly. If you already know your way around WordPress though, it is a breeze to learn and manage.
Check out MultilingualPress here.
If you want a top plugin at a one-time fee, then WPML and MultilingualPress are the best options. If you need to spend good money on a plugin, then select Weglot because it gives you great freedom in handling of translations, while TranslatePress, qTranslate X and Polylang are great for those who want a free plugin.
Regardless of the translation plugin you select for your site, make sure to select the best option for your case that fulfills your needs – different plugins will have their own weaknesses and strengths.