Setting up WordPress in multiple languages is indispensable for your WordPress business in times of globalisation and international customers. To support you in implementing a multilingual WordPress website, I will describe our own experience with the WPML WordPress plugin for the multilingualism of our website raidboxes.de/io/it/etc.
Update: In the meantime, we are happy with our Raidboxes website from WPML to Weglot. This WPML guide is nevertheless the idealr, if youf you want to build your WordPress website with the help of WPML with the help of WPML. Good luck!
What is WordPress plugin WPML for anyway?
WPML makes it easy for you to set up a multilingual WordPress website with just one WordPress installation. You can choose which languages you want to use for your WordPress website and start translating your content directly. The WPML WordPress pluginnow has over 40 languages(!) to choose from by default. However, you can also add your own language variants with the so-called WPML language editor. On the WPML WordPress website, "Canadian French" or "Mexican Spanish" are given as examples. To fill WordPress with content in multiple languages, WPML pluginoffers you three options:
- on a separate domain per language
- on several sub domains per language
- on different domains per language
Functions of the WPML Plugin
The WPML plugincreates different language versions of your postsand pages in your WordPress instance, which are treated as completely separate versions. This has the great advantage that it is not only easier to deactivate the WPML pluginor remove a language, but also to create clear structures.
If your WordPress is multilingual, a so-called "hreflang" is set in each header of your WordPress website. This tells the search engines explicitly which language the respective WordPress website is in.
With a multilingual WordPress with WPML, you must of course invest a correspondingly high amount of effort in writing multilingual posts and pages. SEO metadata with a pluginlike Yoast SEO should also be created separately for each language in order to achieve the best results for the respective WordPress website.
But I can reassure you that the WPML pluginfor WordPress multilingualism now has special features for copying pages and postsdirectly and then translating them, for example, on the siteof the selected national language.
On the Raidboxes website we use separate language versions for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Although German is spoken in all three countries, there are still some national differences that we would like to take into account, such as certain terms, addresses and telephone numbers.
To be able to use WPML properly with your WordPress, you should check the minimum requirements for using the plugin before installing it on your WordPress website at plugin.
As already mentioned, you can display your multilingual content either on your own domain (beispieldomain.com), in a subdirectory (beisspieldomain.com/en/) or with a language parameter (beispieldomain.com/?lang=en). Here is an example of an English-language WordPress website.
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Standard language and other languages
Now it's time to get down to business! Before you get involved with WPML WordPress plugin , I strongly recommend that you create a manual backup of your current WordPress website. That way you can always go back if something doesn't work the way you want it to. If you don't have a WordPress backup yet, please use an appropriate backup plugin or a WordPress hosting with integrated backups.
Once you have downloaded, installed and activated the WPML plugin , you can start setting the languages in the WPML plugin settings.
After the installation, select the default language of your WordPress website.
You can add more than 40 languages to your WordPress website. To do so, follow the set-up process of the WPML plugin step by step.
Now you can set up the language switcher options. The default setting is the so-called dropdown variant as a menu on your WordPress website.
You can also decide whether you want to place the language switcher in the widgets of your WordPress theme (widget language switcher) or at the end of your WordPress website (footer language switcher).
For blogs and magazines, there is also the option of inserting your own language switcher by default in all your pages and posts. This switch is then automatically made visible above and below all your pages and posts.
In my opinion, this function is often associated with problems, because it automatically interferes with your Theme . So please test it extensively before the final release.
Perfect for such small function tests or also plugin or theme installations and updates are, by the way, a so-called WordPress staging, with which you can run through such interventions in a test environment without risk.
If you prefer to implement the language switcher yourself in your WordPress theme, you can use the following PHP code for it:
<?php do_action('icl_language_selector'); ?>
It is also possible to use your own CSS styles. The documentation of the WordPress WPML plugin describes how to do this (but unfortunately only in English).
You can set up compatibility reports so that support can help you as quickly as possible in the event of a problem. The WPML plugin sends a list of your actively used plugins and themes to wpml.org.
Finally, you will be asked to register WPML for a fee. You can also use it for free, but then plugin updates and support would not be possible.
If you order the WPML pluginfor regular security and function updates on WPML for a fee, you will receive a valid key for your pluginand can activate this again during registration or later in the pluginoverview.
Multilingual pages, postsand categories
Once you have set up multilingualism using WPML, you can translate all your posts, pages, categories and keywords into the languages you have added.
Unlike qTranslate, for example, you create a separate WordPress website for the new language. The WPML pluginensures that the pages are then automatically linked to each other. The postsand pages of your standard language are listed first. In your WordPress admin panel you can now either:
- Show all pages of a language
- Show all pages in all languages
Tip: If you want to test the WPML pluginwith a new WordPress website and not your existing site, I can recommend our WordPress hosting with free test phase. In less than 10 seconds, you can set up a new WordPress installation with just one click and try out WPML there without any risk. After the free demo period, your newly created test site will be automatically deleted if you do not want to use the paid offer.
To add one of your pages or postsin a new language, you can either use the plus sign in the respective Dashboard overview or add a new version in the desired language in the respective siteor postsin the "Language" field and edit the version(s) in an already existing language.
If you now want to create a direct copy of an existing German site , for example to translate it into English, all you have to do is check the "Duplicate" checkbox for the corresponding language and click on the "Duplicate" button.
Before you create the duplicate of site , you can select whether the so-called "media attachments" (images, graphics, etc.) should also be duplicated. Here you can even further differentiate between uploaded media and the post image.
It only takes a little training if you have just started with WordPress multilingual. To translate taxonomy labels and slugs, it is best to use the in-house WPML String Translation plugin. Please note that to use this plugin you need to register your WPML pluginfor a fee.
Translate WordPress with the help of WPML
A very practical feature of WPML is that plugin already provides excellent support for the new WordPress features (e.g. menus or custom post types). We have only tested it ourselves with the individual menus. These can at least be created in several languages.
Our experience with WPML
Basically, the WPML plugin allows you to quickly and easily add multilingualism to your WordPress project. The onboarding and initial setup is also successfully completed within minutes.
Personally, I am also willing to pay money for a WordPress pluginplugin in order to receive the important security and function updates as well as to support the developers in the further development of the plugin.
Before using the WPML plugin and implementing the multilingual website structure, you should definitely allow enough time for planning. After all, you must first define which functions you really need and where you want your WordPress website to go in the future.
In my eyes, it makes no sense to build WordPress multilingually if the majority of your traffic comes solely from Germany and you generate the majority of your sales with it.
Keep in mind that it takes quite a bit of time to make your pages and postsavailable in another language and maintain them accordingly. From experience, I can say that we spend between 30 and 45 minutes creating the language duplicates for a new post in our WordPress magazine. And this is despite the fact that the duplicates in our case are currently created in the same language.
The implementation of multilingualism not only includes the creation of texts in different languages, but also, if necessary, link changes, redirects, SEO optimizations, different media, different publication times and more.
Advantages and disadvantages of the WPML plugin
- In my opinion, one advantage of the WPML WordPress Plugins is the individual areas of application and the quick setup due to the user-friendly onboarding.
- Another advantage is certainly the ensured service and support by the developers themselves. New features and improvements are regularly made available to the buyers of Plugins . I am willing to pay for that.
- Direct editing of taxonomy and strings within WordPress is also very easy using the WPML plugin to make WordPress multilingual with the help of WPML.
- A personal disadvantage for me is that the performance of your WordPress website can suffer with the WPML plugin. For this reason, you should definitely choose a high-performance WordPress hosting specialist as your partner.
- The user interface is somewhat out of fashion due to years of further development. However, once you have come to terms with the fact that not everything is displayed optimally or always works the way you would have liked, this can be tolerated quite well. Besides, it seems that with WordPress 5.0 a (Gutenberg-) revision is imminent.
- Last but not least, it is unfortunate that compatibility with a large number of WordPress plugins and WordPress themes is simply not given or leads to complications. One bright spot is that many well-known plugin developers and large theme developers work with WPML to provide the best compatibility.
More WordPress Multilingual Plugins
- The most well-known multilingual pluginfor WordPress - apart from WPML - is the so-called "Polylang plugin".It now has a large fan community of over 400,000 paid Pro versions. By the way, there is also a "WPML to Polylang plugin" to make the switch as easy as possible.
- Another widely used, chargeable multilingual plugincomes from Germany called "MultilingualPress". This pluginalso has a Pro version and is already available in version 3. However, the basic requirement for MultilingualPress is a WordPress Multisite installation.
- I have not had any experience with "Weglot Translate plugin"either. The special feature of the paid version is the direct API connection, which can be used to send texts for translation. So if you don't have the time but the financial means, you should definitely take a closer look at the offer.
- The multilingual plugin"TranslatePress" is available in a free and a paid version and scores with the custom editor integration to edit your texts directly on the WordPress website. You can find the Pro version here.
Conclusion on the WPML plugin
These were my personal tips for WordPress multilingualism with the help of WPML and Co. Finally, I would like to say that I also find the other plugins very exciting and have firmly resolved to try them out thoroughly.
What is your opinion about WPML WordPress Plugin ? Have you already had experience with the multilingualism of WordPress ? And if so, what were your personal hurdles and pitfalls?
I look forward to your comments, tips and feedback!