BEGINNER'S GUIDE

How to Make a Website Multilingual in WordPress? (Beginner’s Guide) 

Last Updated: 18 mins By: ThemeGrill Author

Are you confused about how to make a website multilingual in WordPress? Then, we’ve got you covered. 

While WordPress offers a lot of options for creating and maintaining a website, it doesn’t provide multilingual functionality out of the box. 

That said, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to stick to the default language.  

Despite not being a built-in feature, you can have a WordPress website in multiple languages. For this, there are many multilingual and translation-ready themes and plugins. 

This article will give you a comprehensive step-by-step guide on creating a multilingual WordPress site using WPML, GTranslate, Polylang, and TranslatePress.  

Before we begin, let’s quickly look at a few reasons you’d want a multi language website. 

Why Do You Need to Make Your Site Multilingual? 

Let’s start with the most obvious one. You would want a multilingual site for the very same reason you’d go with a website in the first place — to reach out to a broader audience. 

You can connect to your audience on a personal level by addressing them in their native language. This is more beneficial if you are an international business looking to expand. 

English might be the global language, but it’s not the first language for more than half the population. 

Add the fact that most websites only cater to the English audience; you can have an upper edge just by adding a language switcher. 

Having said that, let’s learn how to choose the ideal multilingual WordPress plugin for your site.  


How to Choose a WordPress Multilingual Plugin for Your Site? 

There are a lot of translation plugins on the market today with varying sets of features. So, you must ensure the one you plan to use aligns with your needs.  

To make it even simpler, here are a few features that you’d need to look for in a WordPress multilingual plugin. 

  • Language Coverage: You need to make sure the multilingual plugin supports the language you want to translate to. 
  • Translation Completeness: Besides pages, a good multilingual plugin will allow the translation of categories, tags, plugins, and other WordPress elements. 
  • Language Switcher: It’s a widget that helps readers to choose their preferred language. A good rule of thumb is it needs to be clear and easily accessible. 
  • Automatic Translations: Translation plugins can save your time and effort through automatic translation. The accuracy varies depending on the translation service in use. 
  • Manual Correction: It’s not given that the auto-translate service will always give accurate results. So, it’s better to have a manual correction option. 

How to Make a Site Multilingual? (4 Easy Methods) 

There are a lot of plugins that you can use to make your WordPress site multilingual. 

However, in this article, we’ll be looking at four of the most popular WordPress multilingual plugins. 

  • WPML (WordPress Multilingual) 
  • GTranslate 
  • Polylang 
  • TranslatePress 

WPML is the most popular of the four but requires a paid license.  

The other three are freemium alternatives to WPML that you can get started for free. 


Method 1: How to Make a Website Multilingual with WPML? 

WPML is by far the most popular WordPress translation plugin. This is because it supports 65 languages out of the box. Not to mention, the custom language that you can add on top.   

WordPress Multilingual WPML Plugin - How to Make a Website Multilingual

The automatic translation does a very good job of translating your content. It’s capable of machine translations of WordPress admin, menu items, posts, and pages.  

Before you start to worry — that ultimate control is still in your hand, and you decide the content, the language you want to translate, and the overall workflow. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on installing and using WPML to make a site multilingual in WordPress: 

Step 1: Purchase and Install the WPML WordPress Plugin

WPML is a premium plugin. Thus, to install the plugin on your site you must first complete the purchase. For this, visit the WPML’s official site.  

WPML currently offers three premium plans with the most basic one starting at EUR 39 per year. 

WPML Pricing Details - How to Make a Website Multilingual

However, we’ll be using the more popular Multilingual CMS plan which costs EUR 99 per year. 

You can get a plan that suits your needs the best. 

Once you have signed up for one of those plans, you can log into your WPML account using your username and password. 

From your WPML account dashboard, click on the drop-down menu next to your account name on the top right and click on Downloads.  

Navigating to WPML Download

There you’ll find the OTGS Installer file. Save this file on your computer by clicking the download button. 

Downloading WPML OTGS Installer

Alternatively, you can also directly download WPML and its required components from your account dashboard. 

However, we prefer uploading the OTGS file as it displays a list of all the available WPML plugins for you to download and activate right on the dashboard once we register with WPML.  

Nevertheless, you can follow one of the above methods at your convenience.  

So, once you have the OTGS file, log in to your WordPress admin dashboard. Then head to Plugins >> Add New Plugin

Navigate to Add New Plugin

After that, click on the Upload button at the top and select the file you saved earlier. Then, click on Install Now.  

Installing WPML OTGS File

Once the installation is complete, hit the Activate Plugin button. 

Activating OTGS Installer Plugin

Step 2: Activate WPML

Next, you’ll be taken to the WPML registration page. Click on Register WPML.

Registering WPML Plugin

This will take you to the Add a Site Key section on your WPML account. 

Getting a Site Key For WPML Plugin

If your site is already online, select Production Site. Otherwise, choose Development Site and hit Continue.

Selecting Site Type For WPML Key

Then, assign credit for Automatic Translation. Leave it to zero and continue if you plan to use manual translation. 

Assigning WPML Credit to Multilingual Site

If you wish to use the Automatic Translation feature later on, you can always buy and assign credits to your site.

WPML also has a Pay-as-you-go plan under which you receive 2,000 credits for free each month. You only have to pay for the extra credit that you use.

WPML Credit Pricing - How to Make a Website Multilingual

Finally, WPML will create a Site Key for you. Copy and paste it into the Site Key box on the registration page and hit Register

Registering WPML Site Key

Registering the WPML plugin will unlock the WPML Package Installer. Here, we’ll checkmark the WPML Multilingual CMS. You can also add other additional packages based on your needs. 

Installing WPML CMS Plugin - How to Make a Website Multilingual

You’ll see an Activate after download button towards the bottom of the page. Select it and hit Download

Activate After Download Button

With that, WPML is successfully installed and activated on your site.  


Step 3: Setup WPML On Your Site 

The Setup Wizard will open after all the downloads are completed. 

In the language section, pick the language that your site is currently in. This will be the default language. 

Then, select the languages that you want to add to your site. You can pick multiple translation languages here. 

Setting up WPML Languages

Then, select the URL pattern for each translation language of your site. 

WPML Site URL Formatting - How to Make a Website Multilingual in WordPress

Since we’ve already entered our Site Key, you can skip the Purchase WPML section. 

Confirming WPML Site Key

Next, choose whether you want automatic machine translation or manual translation from the translation mode. Choose “Translate What You Choose” if you’re going to do it manually. 

Choosing Translation Mode in WPML

WPML will then ask for your theme and plugin information to check for compatibility issues. Select Yes or No based on your personal preferences and continue. 

Here, we’ve selected Yes.

Sending Plugin Info to WPML

Finally, click on Finish to complete the setup. 

Finishing WPML Setup

Step 4: Translate Posts and Pages 

To translate a page, go to your WordPress Dashboard>> Posts >> All Posts. 

Navigate to All Posts - How to Make a Website Multilingual

You’ll notice a new column with flags of all the languages you selected during the process. 

The “+” sign means there is no translation for that language. To add one, click on it. 

Post Translate Option on WPML

This will open the translation window with the original content arranged into different segments. Select each segment and add the translation to the text box next to the right.  

Alternatively, you can use automatic translation by hitting the thunder icon if you have enough credit. 

Once you’re satisfied, select the tick icon above the text box. 

Translating Post Segments on WPML - How to Make a Website Multilingual

Finally, after you’ve added translations for all segments, save the translation post by clicking on the complete button at the bottom. 

Saving Post Translation on WPML

To edit a translation afterward, click on the corresponding gear icon. This will open the translation window again. 

Editing Post Translations on WPML

You can translate pages by heading to Dashboard >> Page >> All Pages and repeating the process above. 


Step 5: Translate Media 

You can access the image translation options by going to Dashboard >> WPML >> Media Translation. 

Navigating to WPML Media Translations

Pick the image and select the pen icon below the language you want to translate it into. 

WPML Media Translation Dashboard

Add the translated title and alternative text in the translation section.  

Translating Images using WPML - How to Make a Website Multilingual

Hovering on the images in the translation section shows an upload icon. If you want to use a different image to display on the translated page, you can upload the image by clicking on it. 

Uploading Different Photos for Translation

Step 6: Translation Categories and Tags 

WPML also allows the translation of categories and tags.  

For that, go to WPML >> Taxonomy Translation

Navigating to WPML Taxonomy Translation

Then, select the taxonomy you’d like to translate from the drop-down menu.  

Click the “+” sign next to the term to open the Term Translation dialog box.  

WPML Taxonomy Translation Dashboard

Add the translated term and slug and hit Save

Translating Category using WPML

Step 7: Translate Strings 

With WPML, you can also translate texts outside of posts, pages, categories, and tags. This includes texts on the admin screen, widgets, and menu. 

Go to Dashboard >> String Translation

Navigating to WPML String Translation

Click on the “+” corresponding to the term and language.  

WPML String Translation Dashboard

Add the translation on the menu that pops up and hit save

Translating String in WPML

Step 8: Translate the Navigation Menu

Translating the navigation menu is as simple as adding translations for categories, tags, and strings.  

First, go to Appearance>> Menus. Then, select the menu you want to translate. 

Navigation to WordPress Menu

Then, on the right, you’ll see the options to translate the menu into other languages. 

Clicking on a language will create a menu for that language. 

Selecting Menu for WPML Translation

Add all the items you need to the new menu and save the changes. 

Creating Translated Menu Using WPML

Step 9: Exporting and Importing Multilingual Content

Now, if you need to export and import your multilingual WordPress content from one site to another, the newest addon, WPML Export and Import, makes it relatively easy. 

WPML Export Import Tool - Multi Language Website

The best part is it works alongside other WordPress import tools as well.

You need to follow the following simple steps to migrate your multilingual content from one site to another.  

  1. Set up the import and export plugins of your choice.   
  2. Install the WPML Export and Import addon on both sites you import and export from. This will automatically add language information to the CSV or XML file on the source site whenever an export is made.  
  3. Export the multilingual content from your site using your export plugin.  
  4. From your other site, import the multilingual content using your import plugin.   
  5. Finally, navigate to WPML >> Export and Import and click the Run Import button. This re-connects the translations with the original content, eliminating the manual de-cluttering in between.   

Hence, this is how you make your website multilingual using WPML – one of the leading multilingual plugins for WordPress.  

Though WPML is one of the finest plugins for making a multilingual website, we also have other alternatives in case you don’t want to go premium in the first place.  


Method 2: How to Make a Website Multilingual with GTranslate? 

GTranslate is an easy-to-use WordPress multilingual plugin supporting machine translations for over 100+ languages. It’s available for free as well as paid options. 

How to Make a Website Multilingual Using GTranslate Plugin

The free tier places a language selector on your site. It uses JavaScript to translate the pages locally. 

On the other hand, the paid version uses neural networks for more accurate translation. It also hosts the translated version on the cloud, allowing it to index and even rank on Google. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on installing and using GTranslate to make a site multilingual in WordPress: 

Step 1: Install and Activate GTranslate WordPress Plugin 

GTranslate has a plugin you can install for free on your WordPress website

Install it by navigating to Plugins >> Add New Plugin from the dashboard. 

Then, type Translate WordPress with GTranslate on the search bar. 

Hit Install Now to add the plugin to your site.  

Install GTranslate - How to Make a Website Multilingual

Wait for the installation process to finish, and then hit the Activate button. 

Activate GTranslate Plugin - How to Make a Website Multilingual

Step 2: Customize the Settings 

This will add a WordPress language switcher on the front end of your website, allowing users to select their preferred language. 

GTranslate will automatically translate your site’s content depending on the users’ language. 

You can control the widget and language settings from the GTranslate dashboard. 

Go to Settings >> GTranslate from your WordPress dashboard to access it.  

Navigation to GTranslate Settings - How to Make a Website Multilingual

This will open the GTranslate dashboard with the following options: 

Widget Options GTranslate
  1. Widget Look: Adjust the look and feel of the WordPress language switcher widget as per your preference. 
  1. Translate From: Choose the default language that the website is currently using. 
  1. Show in Menu: Use this option to add the language selector to the menus. 
  1. Show Floating Language Selector: Add a floating language switcher on the website. 
  1. Flag Languages: Choose the languages that you want to translate into. 
GTranslate Language List

You can use the Custom CSS section to customize the widget further. For instance, you can make the flags monochrome in the drop-down list. 

Add Custom CSS On GTranslate - How to Make a Website Multilingual

Step 3: Confirm the Changes 

Click on the Save Changes button to confirm your settings. And that’s how you make your WordPress site multilingual with GTranslate.  

Save Changes on GTranslate Settings - How to Make a Website Multilingual

Method 3: How to Make a Website Multilingual with Polylang? 

With over 700,000+ active installations and a 4.5-star user rating, Polylang is one of the leading WordPress multilingual plugins. 

How to Make a Website Multilingual Using Polylang

It allows you to manually translate your content, including posts, categories, menus, and custom posts. Machine translation is not built-in, but you can access it using third-party add-ons. 

Polylang also has an in-house add-on for WooCommerce, but it’s only available with the Pro plan. The premium plan works better with WordPress blocks and templates.  

It also offers more support for url structures, content synchronization, and third-party plugins. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on making a WordPress site multilingual with Polylang. 

Step 1: Install and Activate Polylang  

You can install the free version of Polylang by heading to the Plugins >> Add New Plugin from your WordPress admin dashboard. 

Use the search bar on the top left to look for Polylang. Once it appears, hit install and then activate. 

Install Polylang Plugin - How to Make a Website Multilingual

Step 2: Configure the Setup Wizard 

This will launch the setup wizard with the following tabs for the initial configuration: 

  • Languages: Select all the preferred languages along with the default language. 
Languages Added to Polylang - How to Make a Website Multilingual
  • Media: Select this option if you want to translate the title, alternative text, caption, and description of images on your site. 
Enable Translation on Media Polylang - How to Make a Website Multilingual
  • Content: Use this to assign a language to all the existing pages and posts on your website. 
Select Default Language on Polylang
  • HomePage: If you have a static webpage, this will create separate homepages for each of the languages selected. 
Polylang HomePage Setup
  • Ready: This section houses all the documentation if you want to go through it. Else, you can start translating your content right away. 
Complete Setup Wizard Polylang - How to Make a Website Multilingual

Step 3: Translate Posts, Pages, Categories, and Tags 

To translate a post, locate it by going to the Posts >> All Posts from the WordPress dashboard. 

You’ll notice flags of languages you selected in the previous step in the header. 

Add a new translation by clicking the “+” sign corresponding to the language. 

Add a Translation of a Page on Polylang

This will open a new post block editor where you can add the translated content. 

Hit the Publish button to publish the translation. 

Publishing Post Translation on Polylang - How to Make a Website Mutlilingual

You can also edit the translation after it’s been published. Just click on the pen sign corresponding to the translation you wish to change. 

Install TranslatePress Plugin - How to Make a Website Multilingual

Similarly, you can translate pages, categories, and tags following the same process. 


Step 4: Translate the Site Title and User-defined Terms 

Polylang also allows you to translate the site title, tagline, and other user-defined terms.  

To do this, you must access Polylang translation settings by going to Languages >> Translations from the dashboard. 

Navigate to Polylang Translations Settings

Then, add translations of the user-defined terms to the appropriate text box. 

Translate Site Title on Polylang

Step 5: Add a WordPress Language Switcher to the Menu 

Finally, you need to add a language switcher to your site menu.  

Go to Appearance > Menus. Select a menu and tick the Language from the Add menu item.  

Then head to Menu Structure and select the Language menu item you just created. 

Adding Polylang Language Swicher to Menu

Customize how you want languages to appear in the language switcher from the drop-down list. 

Once done, click on the save menu to save your changes. 


Method 4: How to Make a Website Multilingual with TranslatePress?

TranslatePress is another widely used WordPress multilingual plugin. You can use it to manually translate a website in multilingual languages. 

How to Make a Website Multilingual Using TranslatePress

TranslatePress also allows machine translation using Google Translate if you have an API Key. It also has a premium plan that uses DeepL for automatic translation. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on making a WordPress site multilingual with TranslatePress. 

Step 1: Install and Activate TranslatePress 

You can add TranslatePress to your WordPress site by going to Plugins >> Add New Plugin

Search for TranslatePress and hit the Install Now button.

Install TranslatePress Plugin - How to Make a Site Multilingual

Once it’s installed, hit the Activate button. 

Activate TranslatePress Plugin - How to Make a Website Multilingual

Step 2: Add Language to Translate To 

This will open up the TranslatePress Settings. 

In the Default Language section, select the language your website is currently in. 

Use the All Language section to add the language you want to translate to. Pick the preferred language, select the formality (optional), and select a slug. 

Add Languages to TranslatePress

Step 3: Add Language Switcher 

TranslatePress automatically adds a floating WordPress language switcher to your site. You can change its look by tweaking the Floating Language Selection option under the Language Switcher

Language Switcher Settings TranslatePress

You can even add languages to the menu. Head to Appearance >> Menus from the dashboard and select the languages you want to display on the menu from the Language Switcher

You can then change the positioning of the language on the Menu from the Menu Structure

Adding TranslatePress Language Switcher to Menu

Step 4: Translating Your Content 

To translate a page, go to the page and select the Translate Page option from the WordPress toolbar. 

Translate Page Option TranslatePress

This will open the Translation Editor. You can hover over the section you want to translate and select it by clicking the pencil icon

Selecting Content For Translation TranslatePress

This will select the section on the Translate Editor. Add the translated version of the text in the ‘To section below 

Translation Editor TranslatePress

Once you are satisfied, save the changes. 

Repeat this step for all other content on the page. 


Concluding How to Make a WordPress Website Multilingual! 

Despite being the international language, English is not the first language of most of the global population.  

Thus, having a multilingual site is always better if you want your business to expand to a broader audience. 

Furthermore, making your WordPress multi language website is no longer a headache.  

With plugins like WPML, GTranslate, TranslatePress, and Polylang, you can now make your web pages available in multiple languages just like that. 

Hopefully, this article was beneficial to you.

If you are interested, check out our guides on migrating a WordPress site with zero downtime and installing WordPress locally using XAMPP. You may also like our article on the best WordPress lightbox plugins.

Also, if you have any say on this article, write to us in the comment section below. 

Disclaimer: Some of the links in the post may be affiliate links. So if you purchase anything using the link, we will earn affiliate commission.
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ThemeGrill Author

We are a team of SEO copywriters and editors who work both individually and in the team. ThemeGrill author is where one of the editors here is working on one project personally. Write to us @themegrill_blog in Twitter.

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