How to Create a Multilingual WordPress Site

Multilingual WordPress

Let’s pretend your WordPress blog gained International status. For now, we can pretend it’s big in Spain. To gain an even bigger audience in Spain, it would only make sense to have your blog translated into the Spanish language. Remember, not everyone in Spain can read and speak English, therefore you have to think of ways to cater for those who can’t. One way of doing this would be to have your blog or Website translated. WordPress could be described as one of the best platforms for developing websites.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why:

  • Affordable development – Millions of developers use WordPress to make a living due to its high quality design at affordable budgets.
  • Security and stability – there are little-to-zero bugs and security issues are dealt with almost instantly.
  • SEO – WordPress makes it easy for any website to appear high on search results.
  • E-Commerce – E-commerce sites can be built just like any other ordinary site, without paying extra for special features.
  • Site-building – You can build many sites with WordPress such as magazines, blogs, organisations/non-profit sites, membership sites, e-commerce sites, company sites, directory and listing sites, to name but a few.


In this article I will show you how to translate your WordPress site.

Multilingual Plugin

I highly recommend and prefer a plugin called WPML. This plugin offers different methods in which you can translate your blog or website and its has over 40 languages which are pre-installed. One of the options is to have your blog translated manually (that’s if you have a translator on board) or you can have your content translated via WPML. Other plugins that can also be used as an alternative to translate your site are Polylang (but this does not come with a setup/installation wizard),  and qTranslate (which is the oldest and most popular free website translating-plugin).

Translating your content

The best way to start your translating process would be to translate individual blog posts. Remember, you can only do this once you have installed and activated your multilingual plugin, as well as selected your desired language(s) for translation. The translation process is fairly straight-forward. What makes it easier is that WPML and Polylang actually creates two (or more) separate posts, displaying the content in different languages. This will make keeping track of already translated content easier. What’s more, WPML has a fully integrated function that can help you to translate your site and gives you the option to translate it manually if you choose to do so.

Metadata, attachments and images

It is extremely important to translate the metadata of each individual post. Since all the original articles or posts are replicated to the translation, it would only make sense for the metadata of the translated text to be translated – in order for it to match. The same applies to images and attachments. This can be done manually but WPML has a feature that will allow you to translate Metadata automatically. With built-in custom themes, besides filling them out, you don’t need to do anything special. With attachments and images you normally have to upload the exact same file as the original post for it to match the translated post, which will ultimately result in multiple duplicates on your server. With WPML, you are able to do this automatically, without having to individually upload already existing media files.

What about Widgets and Menus

Can you imagine a website with an English menu, populated with Spanish content? That would be weird. But what would be even weirder is having English widgets that will redirect or link you to a Spanish article. It’s obvious how essential the translated menus and widgets are. WPML has built in features to help translate your menus. Simply go to your dashboard and click on ‘appearance’ > ‘menus’ – there should be an option for you to translate your menu. For widgets, you click ‘appearance’ > ‘widgets’. Another way to do this would be to go to the ‘Language’ option in the WPML drop down on your dashboard menu.

Translating your theme

Polylang, WPML and qTranslate are all great plugins which could help you translate your theme in minutes, literally. There are many new themes that now features a built-in translation function, but most of the themes with this function are premium or paid themes. For free themes, WPML plugin would be the best way for you to translate your theme. Different languages may require different values, therefore it is up to the theme author to provide support regarding a multilingual theme options page. This depends on the type of theme you choose to develop your site with. However, this is not always the case and WPML helps a great deal to make this process as simple as possible.


The function of a Language-switcher is to ensure that your readers are able to switch back and forth between languages. This will make it easier for your readers to navigate your site in the language of your choice. There are two ways in which your language-switcher can be inserted: 1. it can be coded into your theme or 2. you can insert a language switcher from the WPML plugin (if you choose to install WPML). You can add it to your Primary menu, your footer or just about anywhere that suits you best. Another way, for better control of its location, would be to add the icl_language_selector code into your theme.

In closing

It would be strongly advised not to use google translate to translate your sites as their translations are very inaccurate. Translating data via WPML takes a bit of time, therefore, getting a professional translator would be the better option. Blogs such as the JOBVINE blog, make use of this function as they have a global readership in many different countries. Check it out for examples on how a multilingual site should look like. There are more than 50k developers that utilizes WPML, so it should be relatively easy to find developers to help you develop your own website. Good luck with translating your site!

Article Guest Post by Khuanita Bright

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