How to Easily Create a Multilingual WordPress Site


Do you want to translate your WordPress site in multiple languages? Wondering where to start? In this article, we will show you how to easily create a multilingual WordPress site.

No you do not need to setup a multi-site or have separate WordPress installs for each language. You will be able to easily translate your WordPress posts, pages, tags, categories, and themes into as many languages as you like.

Creating multilingual websites

We will look at both common approaches adopted by WordPress multilingual site owners.

The first approach allows you to manually translate all the content into languages of your choice.

The second method does not actually create a multilingual site, but instead it adds machine translations of your existing content by using the Google Translate service.

It goes without saying that manually translating your content is a much better approach. This allows you to maintain quality throughout your website. You can translate the content yourself or hire professionals to do that.

If you do not have the resources, and you still want users to be able to see content in other languages, then you can go for Google Translate. This will add a multi-language switcher for users to select a language, and the content will be translated using Google Translate. The downside of this approach is that the quality of translations will not be as good.

Let’s start by looking into building a multilingual WordPress site with manual translations.

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Creating a Multilingual WordPress Site (Human Translation)

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Polylang plugin. Upon activation, you need to visit Settings » Languages to configure the plugin.

Polylang settings page

The language settings page is divided into three tabs. The first tab is labeled ‘Languages’. This is where you add the languages you want to use on your site.

You will need to add the default language, as well as select all other languages that users can choose on your site.

After adding the languages, switch to the ‘Strings Translations’ tab. Here you need to translate site title, description, and then choose the date and time format.

Translating strings

Last step in the configuration is the Settings tab. This is where you can choose a default language for your site and other technical settings.

Setting up a URL structure

For most beginners, we recommend not changing the URL, so select the first option. Why? Because if you ever turn off this plugin, then all those links will be broken.

For those who are looking to take full advantage of multi language SEO, then we recommend that you choose the second option for pretty permalinks as shown in the screenshot above.

You should select the option for detecting browser’s preferred language, and automatically show them the content in their preferred language. By doing this, the user will see the content in their preferred language and can switch the language if needed.

Once you are done, click on the save changes button to store your settings.

Adding Multilingual Content in WordPress

Polylang makes it super easy to add content in different languages. Simply create a new post/page or edit an existing one. On the post edit screen, you will notice the languages meta box.

Adding Multi-Lingual Content in WordPress using Polylang plugin

Your default language will automatically be selected, so you can first add content in your default language, and then translate it into others.

To translate, you need to click on the + button next to a language and then add content for that language.

A multi-lingual blog post in WordPress created with Polylang

Repeat the process for all languages. Once you are done, you can publish your posts and pages.

It’s important to note that Polylang works with custom post types, so it can definitely help you make your woocommerce store multilingual.

Translating Categories, Tags, and Custom Taxonomies

You can also translate categories and tags, or any custom taxonomies you may be using.

If you want to translate categories, then go to Posts » Categories.

Translating categories

Add a category in your default language and then click on the plus icon for each language to start adding translations.

Displaying Multi Language Switcher on Your WordPress Site

Adding a language switcher allows users to select a language when viewing your site. Polylang makes it super simple. Just go to Appearance » Widgets and add the language switcher widget to your sidebar or another widget-ready area.

Language switcher

You can choose a drop down, or use language names with flags. Once you are done, click the save button to store your widget settings.

You can now preview your site to see the language switcher in action.

Language switcher on a live WordPress site

Using Google Translate to Create a Multilingual Site in WordPress

While adding human translations definitely creates a better user experience, you may not have the resources or time to do that. In that case, you can try using Google Translate to automatically translate content on your site.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Google Language Translator plugin. Upon activation, visit Settings » Google Language Translator to configure the plugin.

Google Language Translator plugin

The plugin allows you to select the languages available with Google Translate. You can even remove Google’s branding from translation. This is a highly customizable plugin, so you need to go through the settings and configure it to your liking.

For more details check out our tutorial on how to add Google Translate in WordPress with video and text instructions on how to set up the plugin.

That’s all, we hope this article helped you learn how to create a multilingual site in WordPress. You should also look at our article on how to install WordPress in your language.

If you are looking for a multilingual WordPress theme also referred to translation-ready themes, check out our guide on how to find translation ready WordPress themes that also has an easy way to translate existing WordPress themes.

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