Instructions: switch to WordPress multilingual WPML Multidomain

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You need WordPress multilingual? There are different variants of implementation. In the form of a path within the URL (example.de/en), as a subdomain (en.beispiel.de) or as a multidomain. Each language receives its own domain. From an SEO point of view this is the best option for multilingualism with WordPress and WooCommerce.

Our choice for FirmCatalyst fell to multidomains precisely because of this. It is clear which domain is responsible for which content. And each language version can be designed differently depending on the target group or country. In this tutorial we show you how to make your website multilingual in a few steps.

The goal of the integration: The German contents of our company website are hosted on firmcatalyst.de, the English contents on firmcatalyst.com. In addition, the URLs of our old structure (firmcatalyst.com and firmcatalyst.com/en/) must be properly redirected.

You need the following tools or services for this guide:

  • Your .de domain (or others)
  • A second domain, like .com
  • The WPML Plugin
  • Web hosting of RAIDBOXES
  • Spreadsheet or an Excel table

The feature also works with Polylang. But only if you have activated the WPML compatibility mode in Polylang. If you have any questions, please use the comments at the end of the article. Or contact the Support of RAIDBOXES .

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Making a WordPress website multilingual

In order not to lose the built up trust of the search engines in our URLs, it is important that all links of your website are redirected correctly. This makes it easier for search engines to understand the context of the redirection later on. And they know where the corresponding new content is now.

Step 1: Save URLs in the form of a spreadsheet table

First create a table with all URLs of your website. This is later used to check that no errors have been made:

Forwarding Language Switching WordPress
The list of redirects

Step 2: Change A-record of the domains

For this tutorial it is also important that both domains refer to the same web hosting (in this case RAIDBOXES ). To do this, switch to your BOX at RAIDBOXES. Copy the IP address and replace the A-record of your domain at the respective web host:

IP address of the box
The IP address of the device specified BOX at RAIDBOXES
Change A-Record
Adjusting the A-record

Step three: BOX-Type into a multi-domain BOX change

Call up your dashboard at RAIDBOXES . In the BOX under Settings -> Server -> BOX-Type you will find the option BOX-Type: WPML Multidomain. This must be activated. Attention: Please deactivate your SSL certificate temporarily during configuration!

Multi-domain BOX
Unlock the WPML Multidomain

This will change the view within your domain overview. You can now configure which domain should be used for the second language:

Configure domain
The configuration of the domains for the second language

In order to complete the configuration at RAIDBOXES the end, it is important to complete the www. forwarding for the second language. This must be done manually. If you have done everything correctly, all arrows should show "green light".

Note: It may take several hours to update DNS records worldwide.

Multi-domain status
Forwarding status

Now you can enable SSL again. This process takes RAIDBOXES only a few seconds. If you use a service like Cloudflare for your domains, you have to activate the same type of encryption for both domains - for example "SSL - Full Strict":

Cloudflare Multi-domain
Type of encryption for Cloudflare

Otherwise you'll get a mistake like this:

Cloudflare Multidomain SSL error
Invalid SSL Certificate error message

Step 4:Plugin Configuring the language (WPML)

Install the WPML Plugin and activate your license. In the backend of your website, in the tab "WPML", you will find the option: "Site Language". Configure the desired languages in this selection window and choose which languages should be served on your website:

WPML languages
Setting the language for WPML

In the next configuration field "Language Url Format" you define on which path the respective language can be called. Since we host the language on a separate domain, we choose the option: "A different domain per language". Enter in the input field for which domain which language can be found:

WPML Domain Language
Language per domain in WPML

And that's it! The configuration of your multidomainWordPress website should now be successfully completed. Just check if the second language version of your website can be accessed without any problems.

Step 5: Set up forwarding to the new domain

Experience shows that most webmasters or web designers neglect the redirects. These are essential for search engine optimization (SEO). How else would search engines know where the new content can be found? All backlinks, which your website has built up naturally before, now point to nowhere. And thus lose their value.

Instructions: switch to WordPress multilingual WPML Multidomain

To prevent this from happening, you have to show where the new site one can be called using 301 Redirect.

Tip: Information about 301 Redirects - and other important tips for your success on Google - can be found in the instructions for SEO audits of Dominik Stein.

In our case, European content was hosted on firmcatalyst.com/en/*. Now we need to set up appropriate redirects so that the URLs are accessible on firmcatalyst.com/en/*.

Fortunately, in RAIDBOXES the backend yours BOX offers the possibility to create your own redirects: Under Settings -> Forwardings -> Url redirects. Alternatively, you can use one plugin that allows you to create redirects. Like Yoast SEO or Redirection for WordPress or WooCommerce.

Tip: Redirects through the server are more resource-efficient and faster than redirects generated by plugins or PHP. More information about redirects in RAIDBOXES can be found on the corresponding help page.

301 Redirects at RAIDBOXES
301 Redirects at RAIDBOXES

Your task now is to manually enter the URLs of your Excel spreadsheet under "Forwarding". At the end, the list of redirects looks like this:

Forwarding 301
The overview of the redirects

Conclusion: Effects on your SEO

The correct integration of multilingual content is a big problem for many websites. There are often many pitfalls regarding the correct integration, security gaps, compatibility with others plugins and translation of the content.

For search engine optimization it is crucial to use the so-called tag hreflang to integrate properly. The hreflang tag tells search engines that the content of a web page also exists for another language.

The WPML Pluginwill do this for you. However, to be on the safe side, it is recommended to double check that the href-lang tag is actually used correctly. For example, you can use the Sistrix hreflang Validator use. Up to 25 queries per day are free of charge.

examine over and over again
Check the flange with Sistrix

Decisive for the migration of the contents of a website into another language are

  • The structure of the website
  • The day hreflang
  • The correct forwarding of existing content

If you don't implement these pitfalls properly, it can have long-term effects on search engine optimization. So work out a plan for the future URL structure of your website. Correct preparation is very important here.

What questions about WPML Multidomain do you RAIDBOXES have? Please use the comment function. Do you want to get more tips on WordPress& WooCommerce? Then follow us on Twitteror Facebook , or subscribe to our newsletter.

Picture: Kyle Glenn

Nils is founder and managing director of the Berlin SEO agency FirmCatalyst. Together with his team, Nils has supported start-ups and SMEs throughout Germany, as well as internationally in Tel Aviv, New York and Silicon Valley over the last 10 years.

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