How to Setup Multilingual Website Using WordPress




If you’re thinking of expanding your business website to more serious levels, you must think globally. In order to maximize the reach and potential of your website, you will need to access international representation, and that calls for multilingual site modification.

By default, WordPress is not multilingual. This means you will have to follow certain steps in order to completely adjust your WordPress website. Generally, there are 2 major ways of doing so. First is the multisite method, and the second one is basic plugin manipulation and on-page editing through various free or premium plugins provided for WordPress.

We’ve collected some of the best tips when it comes to setting up your first multilingual WordPress website, so let’s jump right to it.

Try multisite method




One of the methods of implementing various languages to your WordPress website is a multisite installation – a collection of sites with the same WordPress Foundation. They have to share the exact same themes, plugins and individual specifications from the original website. This allows making one website for each of the languages needed.


Having a multisite has a lot of perks, but it also has its downsides too. Its main advantage is that it will make WordPress native in every language. You will have a primary address and subdomain and different addresses for each of the needed versions. This method also helps with working with large and complex websites, with practically no compatibility issues. Downsides of this method are numerous. It calls for creating a network of sites with multiple directories. Some of the plugins and themes might not work properly on multisite installations. Managing translation of the content can be much more time-consuming.


Using multisite can prove to be quite helpful for your needs, but you need to weigh your options first and see is this something that can pay off.



Use translating WordPress plugins




There is a seemingly endless sea of WordPress plugins for various uses. There is a large number of those in charge of translating. Here are some of the best translation plugins currently available for WordPress.



WPML

A premium plugin, but definitely one of the most reliable and top rated ones currently on the market. It allows you to add all the desired languages and automatically translate desired posts. WPML creates completely independent posts for each translation, with different URLs, making them independent from original posts. You can also automatically translate attachments, widgets and featured images.

Image source: WordPress.org


Polylang 

This plugin is a free WPML alternative, and it can do quite a lot of things WPML can. It makes individual posts for each translation. It’s a newer plugin, and it doesn’t have installation wizard. It is a bit harder to master, but once you do, it is a quite good translation tool.



Image source: WordPress.org


qTranslate 

Also, a free translation tool that helps with maintaining dynamic multilingual content on your website. It separates multiple languages in a single post and eases the process of switching between languages. It’s one of the older plugins, and it’s updated quite frequently, so it’s known for its reliability.

Image source: WordPress.org



Language switcher


In order to make your visitors switch between languages easily, you should integrate a language switcher. Different plugins give different options, and there are some multisite plugins that also do a great job.


You should keep in mind that the language switcher has to be visible at all times, and it has to be clear. A good practice is to keep it somewhere at the top of the site, at the header. Some premium WordPress themes provide language switcher right from the start, so in some cases you manual implementation is not necessary. Good language switchers also remove broken links to content that is not yet translated, making your website more consistent and without confusing your visitors.


Wrap up

In an endless sea of WordPress websites, good and practical design always stands out. Anyone involved with freelance web development can tell you that keeping things smart, simple and stable, you can achieve incredible results. Sometimes multisite network can be useful, but usually, it can make a lot of different problems.


With strategic planning and defining your specific multilingual needs, you can easily choose one of the many useful plugins that can boost up your visitors’ retention, or contact a professional that will point you in the right direction.

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