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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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