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How To Localize Your WordPress Website Using Plugins

Posted on June 3 by in Resources | 47 comments

How To Localize Your WordPress Website Using Plugins

The internet has made the world smaller. It has allowed people from all around the world to connect with each other and do business.

Although all of my websites are published in English, Google Analytics shows that 22.26% of traffic to my personal blog last month came from visitors who do not speak English as their native language. I must admit that I was surprised that this figure was so high. I had assumed that traffic from non English speaking visitors would only be around 5%.

Many non English speaking visitors may speak English as a second language, however a large percentage of visitors will also be translating content using a service such as Google Translate (which is built into Google Chrome). I use it myself regularly to translate content written in other languages into English.

It is worthwhile making your website more user friendly for visitors who do not speak your language. One way to do this is to build localized versions of your website for each region. This can be achieved using WordPress multisite or a localization WordPress plugin.

With multisite, you can create one sub directory or sub folder for English speaking visitors, another for French speaking visitors, another for Spanish speaking visitors, and so on. Large companies use this set up so that their online presence is tied to one domain (usually a .com). This lets them offer a good experience to customers in every region they operate.

With localization plugins, multiple versions of the same post or page is input into WordPress. The visitor can then view the article in their preferred language.

An alternative solution is to use a translation WordPress plugin that translates your content for visitors. This is sometimes a more practical way of handling international visitors as you do not need to translate all website content (sales pitches, blog posts etc) for every language out there. You simply offer the visitor an option for viewing your website in a different language and the WordPress plugin will translate your content for you. Be warned, however, that translating content automatically will rarely match the quality you can guarantee by translating content yourself.

In today’s article, I would like to share with you a collection of language and translation plugins that you can use on your website to improve the experience of your international visitors. I hope you find the article useful :)

Transposh WordPress Translation (FREE)

Transposh is a fantastic plugin that can automatically translate your website content into 82 languages. Translation can be handled by Google Translate, MS Translate, or Apertium. It translates your content, RSS feeds, and hidden content such as page titles and meta descriptions etc. This allows your translated content to be indexed.

Content will be automatically translated to the visitor’s language, however you can also display a widget that gives people the option of selecting what language to view your website. All you need to do is select what languages you want to appear on the widget and then drag and drop the widget into a widget zone such as your sidebar.

Transposh WordPress Translation

Transposh supports over eighty languages and has translation support for BuddyPress and plugin text.

Multilingual Press (FREE)

Multilingual Press is a translation plugin that was designed specifically for WordPress multisite websites. It will not work on regular WordPress installations.

The plugin comes with a whopping 174 languages. The translation for each post or page can be viewed under the post editor. A pro version of the plugin is also available. Retailing at $75, it has additional features such as automatically redirecting users to the translated version of your article, support for custom post types, and user specific settings in the back end.

Multilingual Press

Multilingual Press was designed for WordPress multisite websites.

xili-language (FREE)

Xili-language is a WordPress plugin that lets you define the language of a post or page. The plugin was designed specifically for bilingual and multilingual websites i.e. websites that publish articles in two or more languages.

It does not translate your content. What it does is ensure that proper language support is available for posts that are published in a different language.

A widget can be displayed on your sidebar that shows a list of languages that your website supports. When a visitor clicks on a language, they are shown a list of all articles that have been published in that language.

xili-language

xili-language provides support for multilingual websites.

qTranslate or mqTranslate (FREE)

With over one million downloads, qTranslate is the most popular language plugin on WordPress. Like xili-language, qTranslate was created for bilingual and multilingual websites. It is not a translation plugin. Articles can be specified in a number of languages, but it is up to you to ensure that each translation is correct.

qTranslate

qTranslate lets you publish articles in multiple languages.

Once you activate it, you will see a new option in your admin area to change your language. 18 languages are included with the plugin, however you can add other languages manually via the settings area.

Be sure to check out the plugin Qtranslate Slug if you install qTranslate on your website. The plugin will add support for permalink translations.

qTranslate

Additional languages can be added through the settings area.

Unfortunately, the current version of qTranslate has not been updated since January. When I tested the plugin on my test website, it generated a fatal error. Apparently, this error is due to a conflict with WordPress 3.9.

There is a fix available from another developer that resolves this error. A better solution is to use the plugin mqTranslate; which is still actively updated. The plugin is a fork of qTranslate and addresses the fatal error issue.

Google Language Translator (FREE)

Google Language Translator is a translation plugin that lets you add a language widget to your website. It lets you display up to 81 flags in the widget. A drop down menu is displayed that shows all available languages too; whether flags are displayed or not. The widget can also be added to posts and pages using a shortcode, and to theme templates using a PHP function.

Translation management can be enabled so that you can manage languages directly through your Google account. Traffic can also be tracked if you add your Google Analytics tracking ID.

Google Language Translator

Google Language Translator takes seconds to configure, however it offers a practical way for visitors to translate your website content.

nLingual (FREE)

nLingual is a multilingual WordPress plugin that works on a one language per post basis. The developers believe that using an automatic translation solution such as Google Translate generates bugs and mistranslations. Their method ensures that you have full control over every translation.

22 languages can be added through the settings area, however additional languages can be added manually. You just need to define the language .mo file.

Three solutions are available for redirecting visitors. You can redirect users to a subdomain, a sub directory, or append your URL’s with language attributes e.g. ?lang=fr.

nLingual

nLingual is a good choice for a multilingual website.

User Language Switch (FREE)

User Language Switch is a simple language plugin that lets you choose what language is used for your admin area and what language is used for the front end of your website. In order to add additional languages, you need to create a languages folder within your theme folder. Inside that folder, you need to upload the corresponding .mo and .po language files for any language you want to add.

User Language Switch

User Language Switch makes it easy to change the language used in the front and back end of your website.

User Language Switch is not a translation plugin. All menu links will be changed in the back end when you change your language, though you will only see small changes in the front end, such as the title of some widgets.

Additional posts need to be created for each language you offer to visitors. Underneath the post editor, you will see a language box that lets you select the language of the post. You then need to write another post for each language and then select it as a translated version of the main post.

User Language Switch Language Options

User Language Switch is a good plugin for multilingual websites.

WCM User Language Switcher (FREE)

WCM User Language Switcher is a simple plugin that lets users of your website change the default language displayed in the admin area. You will need to install additional languages on your website manually in order for them to appear as an option.

WCM User Language Switcher

WCM User Language Switcher makes it easy for users to switch the language that is used in your admin/member area.

Stella ($14.99)

Stella is a premium localization WordPress plugin that was created for bilingual and multilingual websites. It supports localization of SEO information, permalinks, tags, categories, and featured images.

A new tab is displayed for each language that your website supports. You need to translate your content and add the translated text for each translated post.

Stella Language Posts

Content has to be added for each language you support on your website.

Visitors can change to any of your supported languages using a language switching widget. Additional languages can be added easily through the plugin settings page.

Stella

Stella makes publishing translated versions of a post easy.

WPML ($29+)

The WordPress Multilingual Plugin is a premium translation plugin that translates pages, posts, custom types, taxonomy, menus, and theme and plugin texts. The plugin can also convert eCommerce products.

40 languages come included with the plugin, however more can be installed via the plugin’s language editor. Translation widgets and support for attachments are available if you purchase their $79 Multilingual CMS option.

Visit their examples page to see WMPL being used on live websites.

The WordPress Multilingual Plugin

The WordPress Multilingual Plugin is packed full of features and is available from only $29.

Translation plugins are a great way of offering language support to staff and visitors. As you have seen, there are a number of different options available to you. Your main decision comes down to whether you want to automatically translate content, or whether you want to manually translate content yourself to ensure a good user experience for all visitors, regardless of their language.

If you found this article useful, I encourage you to subscribe to the Elegant Themes blog for updates of our latest articles :)

Article thumbnail image by Iliveinoctober / shutterstock.com

47 Comments

  1. Great stuff Kevin. Your blogging has added a whole new dimension to ET.

    • I am in 100% agreement. ET is now an authoritative site to obtain training and knowledge about WordPress. The blog posts by Kevin and others are the reason I have become a member. I look forward to the emails each day about some new aspect of WordPress. I am learning a lot. This blog is making a real contribution to the WordPress community.

      Most importantly, we are all learning how to utilize Elegant Themes to their fullest potential. Thank you.

      • I second that. I use it as a WP resource now.

        • Yep, Kevin is great to offering premium tips, and I’m wondering what he’ll be offering in his forum website…more explosive tips than this I guess :)

  2. Thanks for another great resource Kevin. I am in the process of designing a site for a local chapter of the Americans with disabilities and accessibility has been an issue. For people with disablilties communication online can be like learning another language altogether. I was able to locate a few plugins to enlarge text but it would be great if you or anyone else could recommend other plugins with the needs of this population in mind.

  3. Fully agree with Bob!
    Why don’t you create an index of all those articles somewhere so that they may easily be found when needed? Searching through the blog archives becomes really complicated.

    • +1

      • +1 – somekind of sitemap page for the blog entries would be really handy,

        great work :) thanks

  4. We have noticed the same thing about the number of visitors from non English speaking countries. 99% of our websites are small local business websites with no foreign appeal. We have determined that 99% of foreign visits are trying to hack our sites or robotic activity. That is one thing to consider before setting up a multi lingual page. Of course, many in the USA speak Spanish so that would be a good language to install. Most of our French Quebec friends read and speak English or I would add that language too.
    Be conservative as plugins can really slow your site down. If you don’t need it get rid of it. Just my humble opinion.
    Great article for those who can benefit!

  5. Thanks for share us!, really useful. Another great plugin is “Easy Translation Manager”, please check it.

  6. Hi there,

    Great article.

    My current solution might be interesting for some.

    – WordPress Multisite (Core)
    – Multisite Language Switcher (Enables Language Flags / subdomain or directories)
    – ThreeWP Broadcast (Helps you push content from one to the other blog)
    I set up one additional site for the purpose of redirecting with the help of the plugin Language Redirect .

    Best Regards and keep up the great work

  7. Hi Kevin,
    Extremely helpful post. Any of these that work particularly well with Elegant Themes? I’m planning on integrating Spanish, Portuguese and French on our new website- any tips would be great!

    • Hi Ashley, I’m a professional translator and I also build websites for our clients. I’ve found qTranslate to be quite complicated. I use the WPML plugin. Even if it’s the most expensive one among the listed plugins here, it’s worth each and every cent. The possibilities are endless and the support is (almost) as good the ET support. I build all of our clients’ websites with ET and the plugin works like a charm with the ET themes.
      Not sure about the other plugins. But in regard to SEO, WPML has performed great.

      • Tanya,
        Great advise to back up this wonderful article. It’s nice to know that it works seamlessly with Elegant themes. You’ve greatly raised my confidence in using WPML – particularly regarding the support and translation community that it also compliments the plug-in. Thanks for the support!!

  8. A gem of a post, thank you.

  9. Awesome article Kevin. I want multi-currency converter plugin article. Can you provide it :)

  10. Hi Kevin, i am part of the 26% people which english is not the native language, i am member of ET in such a big part for your posts. Is very useful for me enter in a site and can select the language; the most of content is in english, so for that reason is very useful have a plugin of this kind; in my site http://www.territorioarquitectura.com i receive a lot of traffic from the usa and have to say that all the content is in spanish, just for that i am going to install on of your plugin collection. Thanks. And sorry for my english!

    • Very nice website Mateo. Greetings from Portugal.

  11. Great article and reference plug-ins for language.

    Question, is there a plug-in that allows for content adjusted for localization? i.e. I shell site that has content for NY and the different content for Chicago or London within the same shell site?

  12. Hi,

    I was a big fan of qTranslate – but now I use PolyLang for all my sites.

    It is a much cleaner solution than qTranslate and totally free – you simply create a page in each language and then link them together.

  13. Always enjoy your articles and use the recommendations often.
    Having a way to search or index of articles would be very handy!

    Thanks!

  14. Hi guys, great post. But as a translator and web builder (I dare not call myself a designer, cause using and changing a theme doesn’t make me a designer) I’d like to point out that using automated translations can actually harm your SEO.
    With Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird (especially Hummingbird) Google will penalize bad content. And poorly translated copy is bad content.
    In addition, as we all know that Likes and Shares have become the currency of choice, bad content (poor grammar, spelling, punctuation) will also be less likely to be shared and liked.
    I’d really recommend either translating content yourself properly, have it translated – or drop the idea altogether.
    And @Kevin, thanks for this really interesting blog piece. I am preparing a WP Workshop for translators that is taking place this month in Düsseldorf. This post will come in handy. :)

  15. Thank you Kevin. I got a request from one of clients some weeks ago to incorporate some automatic languanges translation in his website. I will give it a try for Transposh WordPress Translation.

  16. Wow! Nice article!
    In my opinion, the best translate plugin on this list is qTranslate. You can try and love it!

    • Agreed.

      (m)qTranslate provides the best interface for dealing with multiple languages. Unfortunately, it does not work well with the elegant themes builder.

      WPML does, but managing translations is more clunky. It works, and the interface does its best to manage the additional complexity but it does have the advantage of being able to work with more plugins and extensions out of the box.

  17. The Google Language Translator is awesome, I love it because it showcases global recognized languages

  18. Funny timing, I was researching translations for WordPress yesterday :-) However I was only looking for translation, not localization. It could be a good topic for another blog. The tool I ended up using was CodeStyling Localization (https://wordpress.org/plugins/codestyling-localization/). It finds all translation ready themes, plugins etc in your WordPress installation and displays them in an overview. You can then modify or create new translations and generate mo-files (which is the format WordPress uses for translations). There are external tools as well for people who prefer to keep their WP-installation light (I do too, but I this plugin won’t affect site loading times for users).

    Elegant Themes has a few languages built in already, so it’s easy to get started. The hard part was figuring out how to do and chosing a tool. That took me a few hours, so a blog post about it would certainly help others!

  19. I truly like you said above.. “Be warned, however, that translating content automatically will rarely match the quality you can guarantee by translating content yourself”
    I personally prefer to read my favorite English blogs just the way the authors wrote their articles in English.
    If I have translated automatically, for example, using google language translator to Bahasa Indonesia (my native language), often the results of translation became strange and even make me confused.
    Real human translators still remain the best.. :)

  20. Nice list of translation plugins. 2 plugins were new to me. Thanks for sharing the list.

  21. Thanks for sharing all the plugin names related to language translation. Very helpful post.

  22. Thanks for this great post Kevin.
    I live in a country where people speak 3 or 4 languages (DE, FR, LU, EN). Most of our websites are multilingual. We cannot rely on automatic translations because the translation is often wrong. We use professional translators.
    We tried qTranslate, Polylang and WPML. Our websites running qTranslate are having difficulties to update to newer WordPress-Versions. Polylang is free and is very similar to WPML but does not work well on multisite and multidomain sites (trouble with infinitive redirect loops). Our conclusion is that WPML is by far the best solution for multilingual websites. SEO permalinks and slugs also work great. It’s a commercial solution but it is important for us to have support and updates on a regular base.

  23. Thanks, Kevin! Nice list of options. I’m using Google Language Translator on a site I am building for a client. So far, on the surface it has been great, easy to set up and fast to translate. I still haven’t heard from client as to how well (accurately) it is translating.

    If we decide to translate manually, she wants 6 languages. I have it set up as multisite. If I set up 6 sites, then every time there is a change or addition, I will have to pay a translator to manually make the change on each site. Which may require several different translators. Fortunately no blog right now. A 5 minute change will now become a 30 minute change. Client cost will go up 5x or more for basic maintenance.

    I’m hoping Google Language Translator does a decent translation job on the fly.

  24. What about how to manage multi language content website instead of automatically generating translations?

  25. Thanks for the post Kevin. This is really gonna help my blog as I have blog with for various countries.

  26. Merci pour votre aide. Cette présentation me sera très utile :-)

  27. Thank you for sharing this.

    I had tried to use quite a number of plugins to translate English to Chinese without luck.
    The translation seems awkward and the address was all wrong.

    Hopefully, I can find something that translate correctly for English to Chinese.

  28. I’ve tried all of them. My favourite is WPML for one simple reason: it offers a built in integration with professional translator service.

  29. Thanks for the alternatives Kevin, very useful.
    I’m using qTranslate, so far I’m satisfied.

  30. Hi Kevin, a question, I´m trying to use mq translate whith Drivi, but the visual editor of Drivi crashes whit the lenaguaje selector of mq translate, any idea of how to make them work together?

  31. I just started a new WP blog and this was quite helpful on what I can do to engage in better optimization.

  32. Between mqTranslate and Polylang which one is the best solution for DIVI 2.0 to use with the Divi Page Builder?!

    Thanks
    Fabio

    • Fabio, i was using qTranslate and tried to use qTranslate fixed version and even mqTranslate without success with Divi 2.0 Builder. Polylang worked just fine.

  33. What could be the best solution to redirect from one single wp site in english to another in a folder in spanish?
    I mean whats the best plugin to redirect post by post page by page to users?? in the case of single installation of worpress each one in a different language. some tips?

  34. Hi

    i am frequently getting comments with other than English languages, how can i make easy conversion of those comments in to english language, easy to read read by everyone.

    help me anyone in this regard, which plugin will be helpful to me.

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