The world is multilingual, so why should your website only be in one language? Adding a language translator plugin to WordPress opens up your site to the entire world, which has benefits to both your user experience and your organic traffic.
In this post, I’ll discuss some of the benefits of translating your website, what types of translations are available, and the best language translator plugins to make your WordPress site multilingual.
What Are the Benefits of Translating a WordPress Site?
Translating your site isn’t just some selfless endeavor. There are some very real benefits for your site:
- Improved SEO Opportunities - The competition for English language SERPs is pretty fierce. But what about Spanish? Or German? Or heck, even Vietnamese (that’s where I live!)? If you can monetize international traffic, translating your site is a great way to open up a wealth of new SEO opportunities. Neil Patel tried this very strategy and received a massive 47% increase in organic traffic.
- Better Accessibility - We live in a global world. Just because someone lives halfway around the planet doesn’t mean they’re not interested in what you have to say. Translation not only makes your site more accessible to these people, but it makes it easier to convert them into customers.
You can certainly come up with other benefits, but those are the main two you should be gunning for with your translation solution.
What Types of Translation are Available?
Anyone who’s ever used Google Translate can tell you that all translations are not created equal. The WordPress translation plugins I’m about to list help you with two different types of translation:
- Machine Translation - As the name suggests, this is translation done wholly by a machine. There’s no human oversight or editing. While this is a quick and easy method of translation, it’s prone to errors and, depending on the language, can output gibberish.
- Human Translation - This is professional translation done by an actual human. The plugins on this list can help you implement human translations without the need for a .po file.
To save some money, some services let you combine the two. In such a situation, a human would quickly edit a machine translation to remove the worst errors.
When choosing a translation solution for your WordPress site, consider how important clarity is. For sales or other conversion-focused pages, you’ll absolutely need professional human translation. For regular content pages, you may be able to get by with machine translation.
What Are the Best Multilingual Plugins for WordPress?
In the old days, the go-to method for translating your website was a cumbersome .po file. These language translator plugins change that. I’ll share both simple machine translation plugins as well as more advanced professional translation tools.
Google Language Translator
Google Language Translator is one of the simplest ways for you to add automatic translation to your website. It adds a Translate button that allows your users to get your content in their preferred language.
You can allow users to freely choose a language or limit the number of choices available. It’s super easy to implement via shortcode and you can exclude certain content from being translated by using an included CSS class.
While the plugin is nice because it’s simple, there are two main disadvantages:
- Because it uses Google Translate to translate “on the fly”, there’s no static version of your page in different languages. That means you won’t get any SEO benefits from translation.
- It’s machine translated. While Google Translate is getting better, some languages still turn into gibberish when run through a machine translator.
Weglot takes your WordPress translation to a whole new level when compared with Google Language Translator. It works with any WordPress theme you've chosen and the plugin will fully translate every piece of text on your pages.
It offers support for over 60 different languages and lets you manage all of them from one simple dashboard. You can choose between machine translations or real translations from professional translators, which is a great feature.
You may want to invest in professional translations for certain languages, while for other languages machine translation is acceptable.
And best of all, Weglot follows all SEO best practices. Each translated version of your pages gets its own URL. That means you’re perfectly set up to start ranking your site in different geographic locations.
Weglot is free to translate under 2,000 words into one language. After that, you’ll need to go with one of their paid plans.
Scrybs WordPress Multilingual
Scrybs functions similarly to Weglot. It helps you quickly get set up with either machine or automatic translation. I had the good fortune of being able to give the plugin a hands-on review and can say it functions very smoothly.
When you install the plugin, you can choose your desired translation languages. The plugin will then machine translate your content to those languages. If you want to edit the translations at a later time, you can always go into your Scrybs dashboard and make edits string by string (similar to a .po file).
Scrybs also offers professional translation services, though. So if you want a real human to translate your website, you can hire one through the plugin for about $.06/word. You could also do these translations manually if you’re multilingual.
Scrybs creates new URLs for all of your translated content so that you can get the full SEO benefits. And if you ever edit content in your default language, Scrybs will automatically sync those edits to your translated pages.
Unfortunately, Scrybs is not free. But you do get a ton of functionality and prices start at just $39 per year.
WPML - WordPress Multilingual
WPML, short for WordPress Multilingual, helps you create a multi-language WordPress site without the need for .po files.
Instead of .po files, the plugin creates a translation dashboard inside your wp-admin dashboard. You can manage translations for every single element on your site from this location.
WPML helps you translate everything on your site, down to individual taxonomies. And you don’t have to shoulder the full translation load by yourself. WPML helps with translations in two ways:
- You can turn other WordPress users into Translators so that they can contribute their own translation suggestions.
- You can outsource translation to a professional translation service directly from the plugin.
And if you run a WordPress eCommerce site, here’s something really cool:
WPML is fully compatible with WooCommerce so that you can translate all of your product’s into different languages. Everything from product listings, to checkouts, to confirmation emails can be fully localized into different languages.
WPML starts at $29, but you’ll need the $79 Multilingual CMS plan to unlock the best functionality.
Loco Translate essentially adds .po file functionality to your WordPress dashboard. It’s not as detailed as some of the previous plugins I listed and it won’t help you actually translate your content. But, if you just want an easy way to implement manual translations, it’s a great free option.
To keep your data safe, you can back up all of your translations to a .po file export.
Polylang helps you create a multilingual WordPress site by letting you specify the language of each post or page on your site. Users can then switch between languages as needed via a language switcher button on your site.
Polylang lets you translate virtually every element of your site - posts, pages, taxonomies, menus and more are all supported. Just keep in mind that Polylang doesn’t help you with the actual translations - you’ll need to handle those yourself. Polylang just gives you the ability to translate your site.
If you don’t want to translate your content manually, Polylang will also integrate with the next plugin I’m going to discuss...
Lingotek Translation offers cloud-based manual, professional, or community translations. You can outsource to your professional translation service of choice.
As for machine translation, Lingotek uses the Microsoft Translator. You can always edit machine translations yourself to clean them up.
You can manage all of your translations from one spot at the Lingotek dashboard. It also integrates with Polylang to create a fully multi-language WordPress site.
Lingotek gives you 100,000 characters of automatic translation for free. After that, you’ll need to either pay or manually translate the rest of your content.
ConveyThis has existed in one form or another for about 10 years, but the current version, ConveyThis Translate, is one of the newest and simplest WordPress translation plugins available.
It combines of the benefits of various other plugins, but simplifies the process (with setup taking less than 2 minutes) and provides translation into over 90 languages for free for most small blogs. Additionally, with built-in URL prefixing, your translated pages will be cached directly on your own server, so they can be crawled and indexed by Google and other search engines for an instant SEO boost.
Translations are displayed on-page instantly via machine translation, but can be tweaked, edited, or completely rewritten by you or even a professional translator to give your visitors the most accurate represnation of your site in their language.
Because the plugin scans each full page for translation, rather than your database or code, ConveyThis Translate is compatible with any theme or plugin right out of the box. Additionally, this means any time you update an existing post, or create a new one, a translated copy will be available right away.
For larger sites with more content, or who need additional languages or premium support, ConveyThis offers tiered paid plans are as well.
Wrapping Things Up
Adding a language translator plugin in WordPress is a great way to give your website the benefits of localization. You’ll open up whole new markets for SEO and traffic opportunities. All while making your website more accessible to the rest of the world.
If you don’t want to spend any time adding translation functionality, you can just install the Google Translator Plugin and call it a day.
But if you want to take advantages of all of the benefits of localization for your WordPress site, you should go with a more full-featured option like Weglot, Scrybs, WPML, or Polylang + Lingotek Translation.