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WordPress for Enterprise: How to Make Your WordPress Website Multilingual and Localised

Chelsea Davies

Author Image: Chelsea Davies
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Creating a multilingual website is a must for enterprise customers. Building an international client base is made far easier when you deliver content in their native language. Not only does it make the customer journey easier, but it establishes your company as a global brand.

In this article, we discuss the technical benefits of a multilingual site and highlight the different options available to make your WordPress website multilingual.

Internationalisation and Localisation: The Opportunities they Provide Enterprise Businesses

Delivering a multilingual, localised website provides multiple opportunities for large businesses. Customers who only speak English as a second language may find your website difficult to navigate, especially if there are many variables. Multilingual sites can remove the language barrier to deliver a tailored customer journey. Beyond this obvious benefit, there are many reasons why WordPress multilingual sites are worth the investment.

wordpress multilingual

Improve Your SEO

Google will crawl every translated page as if it is a new piece of content. This means that your content output can increase overnight, without spending hours researching and writing in another language. Simply translate your existing blog posts, articles and website pages. By doing so, your website will have pages that rank for multilingual keywords, placing your company in front of brand-new potential customers.

Grow Your Customer Base

Before you begin translating your site, do some research to find out which languages could offer you the quickest and biggest return on your investment. You can do this in two ways. 

First, extend your usual keyword research to include other countries. Once you have found out where your keywords also rank, you can then tailor your content marketing strategy to suit. 

Secondly, use Google Analytics to find out which international customers are already searching for your site. If there is a demand for your website in other countries, even when it is only available in English, imagine the potential for improved customer retention and conversion when it is delivered in their native language.

google analytics

Beat Your Competition

Content marketing in the English language is a highly competitive industry. When you look at the content published in other languages, it is a far less crowded market and therefore much easier to create an impact, often using content you have already created! Again, check out what keywords are ranking where to put your existing content to further use.

Deliver a Superior User Experience

Nothing beats content delivered in your mother tongue. With no language barrier, information is quick and easy to absorb and customers can get on with their transaction unimpeded. Although Google can automatically translate your website for your global customers, the quality of the translations is often woefully lacking. A quality translation that you can manually edit will pay dividends in the long-term.  

How To Enable WordPress to be Multilingual and Localised

Ever the flexible web design tool, WordPress doesn’t come with a one size fits all translation feature. This allows web developers to approach the task from many different angles, which is highly useful given the multiple ways you may want to translate your website. You can tailor your approach to fit your business’s workflows.

There are 3 main ways to create a WordPress multilingual website:

  1. One site, one post
    Write posts or pages in one language, then beneath write it in the other language. You can include page jumps to make it easier for your site visitors to navigate to the language they want.
  2. One site, multiple posts
    A more popular approach that delivers a better user experience than option 1. Here, the same content but in different languages can be published on separate posts and pages. Create custom menus so that readers can find all the content available in each language.
  3. Multiple sites and posts
    You can set up different domains, subdomains or subdirectories for each language you offer. To make administration and site management easier, convert your site to a multisite where you can manage each platform through one central dashboard. Again, custom menus can help your visitors easily switch between sites.

international flags

Using Plugins to Create Multilingual WordPress Websites

Creating and serving up your translated content is done with the help of WordPress plugins. For multilingual sites, plugins generally work in one of two ways:

  1. Your plugin will connect to an online translation tool that will automatically translate your content. It’s one of the quickest and easiest methods, but it can impact translation quality.
  2. Alternatively, translate the content yourself and use a plugin to help users switch between the two. This results in better quality translations and a custom user experience.  

A mix of the two features provides the ideal balance of costs and quality. Plugins that automatically translate but allow for manual editing are a great place to start. 

However, if you already have an international team, providing your own translations offers the highest quality work.

Multilingual Plugins for WordPress

WPML

WPML is one of the oldest and most popular translation plugins and offers a great deal of flexibility and customisation options when creating a multilingual site. Once you have installed and activated the plugin it will automatically detect your default language, or you can manually select it. Then, add all the additional languages you would like to enable on your site and add language switchers for your users. With WPML you can add switchers to your navigation menu, as a plain list, sidebar widget or in the footer area.

wordpress multilingual wpml plugin

It offers various translation options. Either do it all yourself, use the automatic translation tool (which you can manually edit), or send it directly to one of WPML’s partner translation services.

The plugin is fully compatible with eCommerce sites and you can use it to translate every element of your product pages. The plugin is SEO-friendly and takes care of your page URLs, titles and meta-data descriptions. If you need any extra support, the WPML help team is available in 10 languages, 6 days a week, 19 hours a day.

Polylang

A free WordPress plugin with over 500,000 active installations, Polylang requires you to translate your content beforehand. For help with content translation, you can use Lingotek Translation as an add on. With this tool, you can choose between professional or semi-automatic translation options.  

polylang logo

Once your content is translated, configure your Polylang settings to serve it up to international users. In the Polylang ‘Languages’ setting, set your default language and add all the languages you want to use on your site. You can then work through ‘Strings translations’ to translate your site title, description and more. Go to Language > Settings to create SEO-friendly, language-specific URLs. Polylang makes it incredibly simple to add and label content in different languages and you can translate categories, tags, and other custom taxonomies. Go to Appearance > Widgets to add a language switcher to help users select which language they like.

While the basic plugin is free, there is a premium version and only Polylang Pro users have access to the help desk. eCommerce customers will also need a premium add-on for it to be compatible.  

Weglot

With Weglot you can have your site translated into multiple languages and live in a matter of minutes. Select the languages you want your content translated into and Weglot will do it for you. It offers the best of both in terms of manual and automatic translation. While the machine translation isn’t faultless, it is remarkably accurate compared to other plugins. Avoid starting from scratch and simply go through and manually edit the translations afterwards. If you would rather connect with a professional, human translator there’s an option to work with their partners and have your WordPress multilingual website up and running in less than 72 hours.

wordpress multilingual weglot plugin

Weglot is compatible with all of the most popular WordPress themes and plugins and is trusted by eCommerce stores, SaaS platforms, blogs and more. Weglot also automatically includes hreflang tags in your content. Hreflang tags are a small but significant bit of code that help Google index your website pages. They tell Google which language you are using on a specific page, this means that the search engine can serve up the correct pages to users searching in that language. 

TranslatePress

The live editing feature provided by TranslatePress makes it a doddle to translate any element on the front-end. With the simple and intuitive interface, you can edit navigation menus, buttons and content as your users see it, without the need for any coding. The plugin also allows you to browse your site as various user types. This is great for membership sites to make sure content that only certain visitors can view isn’t missed out.  

wordpress multilingual translate press demo

Using the multiple languages add on, you can add unlimited languages. Either translate yourself or opt for automatic Google translations which you can manually tweak later. There are Pro add-ons available that will connect you to a professional translator.

TranslatePress is automatically WooCommerce compatible: product titles, descriptions, buttons and categories can easily be updated in a matter of clicks.

Enterprise Businesses Need International Websites

Multilingual websites establish your company as a reputable, internationally trusted brand. To tap into wider markets and make the most of global opportunities, businesses need multilingual sites. There is no substitute for impeccable customer experience. Creating content in a user’s native language is the easiest place to start.

There are several avenues available to create a multilingual site and for more complex platforms this can be a daunting task. A WordPress web developer can make sure all of the technical elements run without a hitch. Drop the KIJO team a message to learn more, we have been working with international clients for years and can help you to expand your company’s global reach.