Create a multilingual website with WordPress

Multilingual websites are indispensable nowadays. Especially for business blogs or entrepreneurs who sell products on the Internet, an international customer and visitor base is no longer uncommon.

Since customers and visitors are not only from their own country these days, international guests should at least be able to choose an English alternative.

In today’s article, we would therefore like to show you 2 ways in which you can implement a multilingual website.

Plugins: Easily implement multilingual websites

The first way to implement a multilingual website is also the easiest. Because there are a large number of plugins for WordPress that allow you to use all the functions for creating a page in several languages.

In the list below, we present plugins that are suitable for use on a standard installation, i.e. a website.

polylang

Polylang is a free WordPress plugin that can be used to create a bilingual or multilingual website. The tool offers a variety of useful functions for this purpose.

With Polylang, articles, pages, categories and keywords can be translated into any number of languages ​​with just a few clicks. In addition, custom content types, taxonomies, menus, widgets and URLs.

You can control the language in which the individual elements are output individually via the backend. All language packs are automatically downloaded and updated in Polylang. So you don’t have to worry about anything else in this regard.

The most important functions at a glance:

  • Pages & Posts
  • Categories & Tags
  • Custom Content Types & Taxonomies
  • RSS feeds
  • URLs
  • meta information
  • navigation menu
  • widgets

The Polylang plugin is available in a free version as well as in several pro versions. In the Pro version you have additional features such as B. the translation of the URL slugs, the blocking and unblocking of selected languages ​​or the additional integration of plugins (ACF Pro, The Events Calendar etc.) are available.

If you already use WPML to create multilingual websites, you can use the WPML to Polylang plugin to switch to Polylang. With this, a simple import of the data is possible.

WP Globe

WPGlobus is also a free WordPress plugin for bilingual or multilingual websites. The difference to the previous plugin Polylang is that the translations are not done automatically.

That means you have to use the translations for e.g. B. Make pages or posts manually. Various tabs are available within the WordPress editor for this purpose.

In order for you to see tabs for individual languages, you have to activate them in the settings at the beginning.

Manual translation can be done with WPGlobus not only for pages and posts, but also for categories, tags, menus and widgets. A separate navigation menu can also be created for each language.

In order for visitors to see the page in a different language, you can place a drop-down menu or a language selection widget within the navigation bar.

WPGlobus also supports the SEO plugins Yoast SEO and All in one SEO for multilingual SEO functions (e.g. storing keywords).

The most important functions at a glance:

  • Pages & Posts
  • Categories & Tags
  • Custom Content Types & Taxonomies
  • URLs
  • meta information
  • navigation menu
  • widgets

If you need more features for your multilingual website, you can expand the plugin for a fee. The extensions can be used to translate URLs, taxonomies or even WooCommerce products.

WPML

WPML is the most used plugin for bilingual or multilingual websites. Although it is paid, it offers a wide range of possibilities for creating websites in multiple languages.

The tool’s interface and functions are easy to understand. This makes it easy for every user to operate the tool. All you have to do is select the language you want WPML to translate and the plugin will then translate the text.

WPML has a built-in language editor that allows you to add your own languages. The plugin itself already comes with over 40 languages ​​that can be used.

You can translate pages, posts, categories, tags, custom types, and taxonomies. But also URLs, menus, widgets and even theme and plugin texts.

The most important functions at a glance:

  • Pages & Posts
  • Categories & Tags
  • Custom Content Types & Taxonomies
  • URLs
  • meta information
  • navigation menu
  • widgets
  • over 40 languages
  • WooCommerce
  • Theme and plugin texts
  • Browser Speech Recognition
  • translation service

The paid WPML plugin is available in 3 different versions. These differ only in the range of functions and number of websites on which it can be installed.

The cheapest option for $29 is suitable for a single WordPress installation that needs to be translated into multiple languages. Variant 2, available for $79, is suitable for multiple WordPress installations. The last and most expensive variant, priced at $159, is mainly suitable for agencies.

Of course, which version you choose also depends on which features you want to use with WPML.

qTranslate X (qTranslate XT)

The qTranslate XT plugin is a further development of the originally free qTranslate X plugin, which has not been further developed for several years. Additionally, the plugin is not available in the official WordPress plugin directory.

It must be downloaded directly from GitHub and installed and activated manually via FTP. According to the developer, qTranslate XT supports local switching between two or more languages ​​in the WordPress editor. You can choose from several tabs in the backend for each selected language.

With this function, pages and posts can easily be implemented in multiple languages. In addition, you can customize custom fields and URLs.

The most important functions at a glance:

  • Pages & Posts
  • Custom Fields
  • URLs

Since the original plugin has not been updated for 3 years, the further development XT cannot be updated via WordPress, and qTranslate’s functionality and third-party support is not very high, we advise against the plugin. If you still use qTranslate, you should switch plugins.

Multisite installation

In addition to the possibility of creating multilingual websites with WordPress plugins, for which a standard installation is sufficient, there is another option, namely the so-called multisite installation.

What is a Network Multisite?

WordPress is a content management system (CMS), which was originally developed exclusively for a website. When we speak of a Network Multisite, it is an extension of the normal WordPress installation.

Because with a Network Multisite you can manage 2 or more websites with just one installation at the same time. Basically, network multisites are operated either as a subdomain or subdirectory.

Example:

Your domain is xyz.de.
A subdomain could then look like this: sub.xyz.de

A subdirectory could look like this: xyz.de/sub

The main advantage of a multisite is the low maintenance effort. Because all pages only have one database (WordPress). This means updates can be made for all pages with just one click and in one fell swoop.

What does this mean for a multilingual WordPress site?

With a multisite you can create a separate website for each language. So you can clearly separate the languages ​​from each other.

In addition, there is currently a plugin for multilingual websites, which was specially developed for use on multisites.

MultilingualPress

The MultilingualPress plugin is a tool that allows you to manage multilingual websites within a multisite installation. The special thing about this plugin is that it was specially developed for use on multisites and thus offers the best possible options.

MultilingualPress only requires and loads one language per page. This is not only a huge advantage, but also promotes the performance of the individual pages. Other tools for multilingual WordPress sites will load all available languages, which can cause performance issues later.

Additionally, standard WordPress content such as posts, pages, categories and taxonomies can be easily translated with this plugin. It has a language manager that allows you to manage and edit over 800 languages.

It is Gutenberg-ready and compatible with the SEO tool Yoast SEO, which allows easy translation of meta data.

The most important functions at a glance:

  • Pages & Posts
  • Categories & Tags
  • Custom Content Types & Taxonomies
  • URLs
  • Browser language redirection
  • over 800 languages
  • WooCommerce
  • Theme and plugin texts
  • Language switch tabs
  • only one language per page
  • SEO friendly
  • language manager

This plugin is a premium plugin, which is available in 4 different licenses (Standard, Developer, Agency, Custom).

With each license you have the full range of functions at your disposal. Only the number of multisites changes.

Conclusion

If you want to create a multilingual website, the Polylang plugin and WPML offer you the easiest way to do it. As mentioned above, we advise against using the qTranslate XT plugin, as the development status and compatibility with the current WordPress version is uncertain. We would also refrain from the WPGlobus plugin, as it does not seem mature, does not offer any compatibility with WPML and is hardly supported by third-party plugins.

The paid plugin WPML is by far the most comprehensive tool of its kind and is mainly suitable for individual websites. It offers a high level of convenience when it comes to offering content in multiple languages, but performance is also a factor.

If you are looking for a plugin that offers the best possible options for use on a network multisite, we recommend MultilingualPress. The effort is a bit higher compared to WPML, but here you hardly have any loss of performance and the highest compatibility.

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