The Best 10 WordPress Translation Plugins for Going Multilingual

Posted on November 23, 2015 by in Resources | 23 comments

The Best 10 WordPress Translation Plugins for Going Multilingual

Even if you’ve done everything right when it comes to content, optimization, responsiveness, SEO, and marketing, you might still be missing out on a lot of potential site visitors due to the simple fact that not everyone in the world speaks the same language.

The good news is that if you do decide to take the necessary steps to make your content intelligible to a wider audience, you don’t need to drop some major dollars to make it happen.

WordPress is blessed with a range of excellent plugins to help you create and handle multilingual content and we’ll step you through ten of the best options in this article. Before we begin, let’s consider why you might want to offer your site in multiple languages in the first place.

Is It Worth Offering Multiple Languages on Your Site?

Though English is the dominant language of the web, native English speakers are a mere 26% of the total online audience – a figure that’s significantly down compared to the early days of the web and set to fall further as more of the world comes online. Outside of the Anglosphere, multilingual environments are the norm, and even in massive English-speaking markets such as the United States over ten percent of the population speaks Spanish.

Catering for more than one language is an option that frequently pays off in multiple ways. For example, European clothes retailer ASOS saw their international sales increase by 39% after expanding their footprint to Russian and Chinese markets in 2013.

The Best 10 WordPress Translation Plugins for Going Multilingual

Providing multilingual content represents a massive opportunity for many site owners and the plugins we’ve rounded up will help you take advantage of it on your own site. Let’s crack on with the list!

1. Lingotek Translation

Lingotek Language Menu

The Lingotek Translation plugin taps into a cloud-based translation network where you’ve got the option of sourcing translations using either machine-powered solutions, crowd-sourced solutions, or by hiring professional translators from a pool of over 5,000 certified linguists.

Features

  • You can check on the status of your in-progress pages or documents at every step of the way with integrated percentage bars showing the status of ongoing work.
  • The plugin enables you to choose your translation method (machine, crowd-sourced or professional) and queue the finished product up to be published right away. You’ll need to register an account with Lingotek to gain access to these options.
  • If you want to handle the translations yourself or bring in a translator that isn’t affiliated with Lingotek, the plugin also contains a professional text editor built with translators in mind.
  • Machine translations are free for up to 100,000 characters and are handled by the Microsoft Translator API.

2. GTS Translation Plugin

The GTS Translation plugin aims to help increase traffic to your site through a combination of machine translation – polished through crowdsourcing to avoid embarrassing grammatical mistakes – and search engine optimization functions.

The extent to which that will work will naturally vary from site to site, but the plugin employs a very efficient approach to translation by getting the bulk of the work translated automatically and then edited by humans thereafter.

Features

  • GTS Translation Services (the service provider behind the plugin) officially support over 30 languages, although the platform can be used for others if you have access to your own translators.
  • The plugin enables you to either fully automate the machine translation and post-translation polishing or manually review projects as you go.

3. Google Language Translator

GLT Header

The Google Language Translator plugin isn’t an official Google plugin, rather it’s a tool built on top of Google Translate that’s designed to enable you to offer multilingual content in the simplest fashion possible.

Unlike our previous choices, all you have to do here is download and activate the plugin, select from a handful of options, and you’ll have at least a rough version of content in the languages of your choosing ready to go.

Features

  • Support for over 80 languages powered via Google Translate.
  • Simple and fast setup process.
  • Enables visitors to manually switch between either a selected set of languages or the entire range of Google Translate’s options.
  • Google branding can be turned off if required.

4. Google Website Translator by Prisna.net

Prisna Google Website Transltor

Google Website Translator is another plugin built on top of Google Translate, this time offering a few more customization options than our previous selection.

Features

  • Support for over 80 languages.
  • Setup is nice and simple with customization features available such as display and style modes for the translation toolbar, alignment options, and the choice of whether to show flags or not next to each language.
  • Optimized for blazing-fast loading times.
  • The developers are active when it comes to reviewing support tickets and open to feature requests.

5. Ceceppa Multilingua

Ceceppa Multilingual Language Selection

The Ceceppa Multilingua plugin starts moving our selections away from translation and into aspects of handling multilingual content in the context of a WordPress site. This plugin assumes that you’ve already sourced your translations and is built to give you the tools to display them.

Features

  • Enables you to handle the same articles in multiple languages from within your dashboard through a system of tabs and customized URLs for different languages.
  • Handles unique URLs for each language in an SEO-friendly manner.
  • You can quickly check which languages each post has been translated into via simple flags displayed on the dashboard.
  • Enables you to customize widgets for each language.
  • Works with custom post types.
  • Includes a widget for easy switching between available languages for each post.

6. MultilingualPress

Multilingual Press Logo

MultilingualPress assumes you’re providing different languages using WordPress’ Multisite functionality and connects pages in different languages through a customizable language selector widget. Over 170 languages are catered for through the plugin’s Language Manager.

Features

  • The plugin is designed to prevent data loss, which means that connected posts will not disappear if a version is deleted and translated pages can stand on their own. This feature can also be disabled in case you want to handle all translations of a post as if they were a single one.
  • The post editor allows you to manage all versions of the same post from within the same page to speed up the translation process.
  • Enables you to translate categories and tags on top of posts and custom posts for enhanced SEO.
  • If widgets aren’t your thing, the plugin can automatically add links to other languages within each post.

7. Multilanguage by BestWebSoft

Multilanguage by BestWebSoft plugin

Multilanguage is another solid option for helping you manage a multilingual site assuming you’ve already gotten your hands on translated content.

Features

  • The plugin includes support by default for 76 languages and new ones can be added with ease by modifying the languages.php file.
  • You can specify multiple languages for each post and other metadata, as well as adding translations from within the editor.
  • Users can switch between languages when translations are available through a widget which includes a customizable list.
  • Search functions are automatically performed in your site’s default language.
  • Enables you to also translate the plugin’s dashboard in case you want to go the extra mile for contributors.

8. WPGlobus – Multilingual Everything!

WPGlobus Flags

WPGlobus is the centerpiece of a family of plugins for multilingual WordPress sites including separate add-ons such as WPGlobus for WPBakery Visual Composer (enabling the core plugin on themes that support WPBakery), WPGlobus for TinyMCE, WooCommerce WPGlobus and WPGlobus Plus (these last two add-ons are premium).

While in this case it’s the add-ons that make the plugin shine, the core features of WPGlobus still make for a robust backend for multilingual sites.

Features

  • Gives you the tools to manually translate all kinds of posts and widgets for your site.
  • Enables you to add languages to your site and includes automatic SEO features for translated content.
  • Users can switch between languages when available for any given post either through a drop-down menu or a widget.
  • The language of the administrator interface can easily be switched depending on your preferences right from within the dashboard.

9. WPML

WPML Translation Management

Our next pick is a heavyweight plugin that tackles both multilingual management and the translation process itself. WPML is the grandaddy of WordPress multilingual plugins and is available in a number of licenses: Multilingual blog for $29 yearly, multilingual CMS for $79 yearly, and a lifetime all-included option for $195.

The blog option is naturally aimed towards sites with less complex needs and is able to handle multilingual posts of all kinds, along with taxonomies and menus. It’s also able to detect the language of visitors’ browsers.

The CMS offering includes all these features plus the ability to translate custom fields, widgets, and themes. It also offers e-commerce support and multi-user translation management amongst other features.

Features

  • Compatible with most themes and out-of-the-box support for over 40 languages.
  • 30 days money-back guarantee and support for unlimited sites with any of the versions listed above.
  • The CMS version offers a fully developed platform through which translators can be assigned jobs and in turn be supervised and reviewed by editors.
  • Your WPML install can be connected to several professional translation services if you wish to outsource the work and you can enable several levels of notifications and management screens to oversee progress on your site.
  • Active development team that offers dedicated support in nine different languages, from Monday to Saturday, and very active community forums.

10. Polylang

Polylang Header

Last but not least, Polylang offers a well-rounded option for those seeking an all-in-one solution for setting up and managing a multilingual WordPress website.

It also works with Lingotek – the first option on our list – by enabling you to link its translation service to your install through an addon. You can also opt to use other translation services or do the work manually.

Features

  • The plugin offers support for 41 languages with the admin interface available in all of them.
  • Enables translation features for regular posts, custom posts, taxonomies, widgets, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
  • Although the plugin can automatically detect the language of a post, you can also set it manually or through a code in the URL.
  • Enables you to use unique subdomains for each enabled language.
  • Users can switch between languages through a widget in the navigation menu.

Should You Consider Professional Translation?

Over the course of this article, we’ve mentioned professional translations a bunch of times as an option for those looking to take their multilingual sites to the next level, but only you can decide whether the expense would be justified or not.

Despite how much it’s improved of late, machine translation can only take you so far – if it’s your main tool when it comes to translating content, you’ll have to make your peace with the fact that it’s going to be a long way from perfect and, in many cases, may be barely understandable.

Professional translation should be seriously considered as an option if you’re already making money from a website and think the upside will potentially cover the costs. It’s worth reviewing standard translation rates to get a feel for how much money you could be looking at.

If you do opt to go the professional route, remember that it’s not as simple as just paying someone to take care of the translations, setting up your multilingual plugin, pasting them in and forgetting about it. Firstly, managing a translation project is an undertaking in itself and you’ll need to follow sensible guidelines in terms of sourcing a professional.

Secondly, capturing new readers or customers from a different geographical region will likely also require some back and forth or multilingual support if you’re selling a product – the process can be fraught with cultural differences.

Before you earmark any money for translation services, aside from considering whether it will be a financially viable enterprise, also weigh up whether you’re willing to provide extended support and engage with your new base of customers or visitors.

Conclusion

Does the idea of translating your site still seem daunting after reading all that? Don’t panic! Just start small, try out the waters with a single additional language if you think you can benefit from it, and see where things go from there.

If you’re simply looking to expand your SEO reach, any of the first four items on our list will get you off to the races. If you’ve already got access to translated content and are ready to hit the ground running, WPML or Polylang are probably your best bets to get moving quickly.

Do you have any personal experience running a multilingual site? Or do you know of any multi WordPress translation plugins we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Article thumbnail image by Decorwith.me / shutterstock.com

23 Comments

  1. I also use very pleased the plugin “multisite language switcher”.

  2. A lot of problems to translate a site using Divi theme. I got to duplicate pages and use “Page Specific Menu Items” to make it work, but does not work well at posts, categories (just, changing the code at the core).

    So, the question is, which one is the best to work with Divi?

    • I’m a huge fan of Polylang. As long as you make sure that you select the right language codes (the ones that actually have a language file in the Divi folder), you’ll be fine for the most part. The few missing translations (there are some ever since one of the last updates) can be easily added with the help of PoEdit.

      I used to use qTranslate, which is now being forked under a different name that eludes me at this very moment and while it’s not bad, I think that Polylang is superior.

    • Also the work with MultiLingual Pro with a multilingual Site works without any Problem. I use these combination in a lot of projects!

    • Hi Ricardo,
      I’m using qtranslate x. Is the new version of qtranslate, is udpdated and the guys there are supporting it. The only details with DIVI (thanks to the staff for the greatest theme of the world) is that if you use the builder as I guess you are doing, you have to save/update your page/post when you finish editing for example in english, then change the selector to spanish and save again. This allow to DIVI switch the editing language.
      “Qtranslate x” is being updated very often, and every time they add new translatable fields.
      Then it work on the same page and separate your content with simple tags (like [:es]content here for spanish[:en] content here for english]), so that if you go straight to your database you can bulk change the content field in the post table.
      Good luck.

  3. Hi Tom (nice to read you on so many different sites) 🙂
    Hi everybody!

    Living in a tiny country with no less than 4 official languages (Switzerland), for sure multilingual is a must here and is a recurring topic discussed at our WordPress meetups (@WPGva).

    The last time we had such a meetup, the speaker (Vincent from Polychrome.ch) made the distinction between plugins using :
    – all data in the same pos, (such as xTranslate previously qTranslate)
    – data in different posts (such as WPML, Xili, Babble or Polylang)
    – data in differents sites (subsites of a multisite), (such MultilingualPress or Multisite Language Switcher)

    you can see all the mentioned plugins in the speaker’s slides (in French 😉 ) with pros and cons (green/red slides) from slide 14
    http://fr.slideshare.net/PolychromeSrl/presentation-shared-49770369

    Note 1: I want to mention Babble, it was developed by Code for the People, which has been acquired by Automattic last year (read here http://wptavern.com/automattic-acquires-code-for-the-people-expands-wordpress-com-vips-reach-into-european-markets )
    I’m not sure about the current state of Babble now (abandoned? stand-by? future develpment planned?) It looks a bit abandoned but I might be wrong

    Note 2 : since a few months, all the features of MultilingualPress are now in the free version (premium being now for exclusive support), so it’s great to try! This is now my preferred solution, as I’m already a fan of multisite features and possibilities, beyond multilingual uses.

    • Bonjour Patricia,
      Thank you for this link to slideshare, it’s very intersting and i will try some new options.
      I was using WPML but it’s really a heavy plugin. If you have a small server (as one of my clients has) with low memory WP could have some difficulties to treat all the database requests of WPML, especially in the backoffice.

    • Hi Patricia,

      Thanks for your comment. Breaking up the plugins in these different categories does make sense. And the slideshare gives useful infos on pros and cons, thanks!

      Yves.

  4. Definitely WPML. It’s a premium plugin with professional support, and has the ability to grow. It works fine with Divi.

  5. It seem have issue using Mutillanguage by BestWebSoft, the “font type” column is missing in customize page.

  6. I think wordpress just keep getting better. Having people read your site content is different languages is very fantastic. Being multilingual you have more visitors and readers.

  7. Hi there, great article right there and you’ve hit my soft spot. I’m a professional translator for German and English and a web designer. Which comes in handy when you specialize as a translator for Online Marketing copy and Marketing in general. I use WPML for all my multilingual website projects. For one, it’s as powerful as necessary. I can also collaborate with other professional translators who work with CAT tools (not to be mistaken for machine translation).
    And here’s my BUT: The standard rates you linked, well they really don’t reflect reality. These are prices that agencies pay. Not your average translator who works for direct clients. As for myself, I only work for direct clients. Although it’s way more work, I love dealing with my clients on a day-to-day basis. Hence, my hourly rate is about 4 times higher than the rate stated on the page you linked. PLUS, these online surveys have one huge problem: They usually reflect the opinion and experiences of those who don’t earn the average because the people who participate in these polls simply have the time to hang out online or they have something to (rightfully) complain about all time. You’ll rarely get a content freelancer who makes decent money (plus some) to take part in such surveys, simply because they are busy being happy and working on good projects. At least that’s the experience I’ve made as the head of an association for professional freelance translators and interpreters.
    That said, I like how you pointed out what MT can do and what it can’t. There’s one more good reason for working with professional translators: Have a look at Google’s business model. Who is their client? Those who place ads. But how do they sell those? By serving the person looking for something. And Google strives to deliver the best, most relevant search results. And this where it gets juicy: IMHO, Google Translation Toolkit is designed to help Google learn what different languages are about. So basically, humans are training Google to understand the grammar and rules of languages. In turn, Google can assess the quality of the content of a website better and more accurate, understanding the semantics of different languages, which helps to assess the relevance of a given content. Conclusion: Google will prefer content that is written correctly, with good grammar and style. Something that machine translation is far from capable as of today. I dare to say that even the most advanced language combinations in Google’s MT (DE to EN and SP to EN) is still far from a result that Google’s search algorithms would consider as “good content”.
    Nuff said, back to work!
    Thanks for the post – great reading as always.

    • That’s a huge reply right there Tanya! Awesome, just Awesome! You must have had quite a bit of spare time to write all of that?

  8. Hello Tom Ewer! All Plugins That You Explained Are Good But Lingotek Is Best Of All

  9. I’m using Lingotek Translation on my website. So far so good. Haven’t tried other plugins yet.

  10. As a translator and website builder (and as of this week, actually, an Elegant Themes customer!), this is a great post. It is so good to see someone talking about translation—often an invisible profession—openly, and in the tech world. The section on “Should you consider professional translation” offers pretty good guidelines, I think.

  11. Thanks for this awesome post about translation and localization plugins. I will definitely take a look at Lingotek for the purposes of my freelance translation business. Also, let me express my sincerest gratitude for touching upon such important issue as professional translation. Unfortunately, there are still many clients who know little about the importance of quality human translation and overestimate the machine one. Let me express my sincerest gratitude for touching upon such important issue as a professional translation.

  12. Hi,

    Frankly, I am not sure how those plugins works. For example if you have website in Spanish and someone from USA goes to your site it translated to EN ? or
    a user can choose in one place his language ?
    I have also noticed that some sites in google search result are automatically translated to destination languages ( according to search query) – I mean are in let say Website originally is in Chinese and is on 5th place in USA google result ( It can be easily noticed that is machine translated it ). I still trying to figure out how it works 😉 ?

    Regards,

  13. No only that WP is getting better, the whole community is getting ‘stronger’ by the day. New developers could become core contributors just by working on translation.

    I do however wonder what is the impact of engagement and readability with regards to search engines.

  14. Nice list there.. all plugin picked are good, but my favorite is lingotek… Nice article too!

  15. I’ve never thought of making my blog go multi lingual, I agree with you where we might be missing some visitors due to our blogs language.

    lingotek looks good. might suggest it to a friend.

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