According to the WordPress download counter, version 4.5 has been downloaded over 44 Million times by people all over the world! Since I typed the previous sentence the counter has gone up by at least 20 more. While all those downloads may not be active installs, it gives us a good idea of how many websites use WordPress.
You can make a multilingual website to reach more people. There’s no reason to limit your website to a single language. Multilingual plugins for WordPress can make it much easier to translate pages, posts and other sections with text on your website. This list has some of the most reliable and popular multilingual plugins for WordPress.
It’s important to learn about the plugin before you decide to install it. You will want to make sure that the one you choose will do what you need it to do. All of these plugins mentioned in this post are intended to work with themes that follow the WordPress development standards as defined in the codex.
There are many reasons why you would want to use a multilingual plugin. You can:
- Allow authors to choose their native language in the dashboard.
- Allow visitors to view posts or pages on your website in their language.
- Translate the text on any section of your site like nav menus and widgets.
- Setup translation from a human or machine translator.
Free vs Paid Multilingual Translation Plugins for WordPress
Many people are happy using a free multilingual plugin. Free plugins will work just fine if you have a small budget or you are experienced with WordPress. Developers and power users will generally be able to squeeze whatever functionality they want out of a plugin. Many times a paid plugin is the best option best for a project. Don’t underestimate how much time and/or money you can save with a paid plugin.
If you want strong support and something that works out of the box without any issues, than it’s a no brainer. WPML is the leading multilingual plugin for WordPress. It has been developing for years and the plugin authors are dedicated to maintaining the product. If you don’t want to purchase a plugin, there are lots of free plugins that work great.
Just be aware that with any plugin, especially free ones, you will run into some bugs. Common issues involve things like:
- Compatibility with other active plugins.
- Generally more bugs to deal with.
- Problems with dynamically generated content (sliders, related posts, menus etc.)
- Problems with responsiveness.
- Running your site on a local server can be problematic.
- No guaranteed support from the plugin author.
WPML – The WordPress Multilingual Plugin
WPML is the most popular multilingual plugin for WordPress. The plugin authors, OnTheGoSystems are firmly embedded in the WordPress community. When you purchase this plugin you a get state of the art translation environment and guaranteed support.
You may have noticed that many of the best WordPress Themes list WPML ready in their features. This means that they are tested and certified by OnTheGoSystems. This is an important thing to consider when you are theme shopping if you want to have a multilingual website. Most of the top premium themes will be WPML ready.
The WPML plugin is flexible and reliable. It’s the best choice if you want to build a multilingual site. Use it to for any type of site including eCommerce. It works with WooCommerce out of the box. When you translate a page to a new language, the plugin will create a duplicate of that post or page in that language and link it to the original in your database. Currently there are over 60 languages supported. The plugin comes in two different versions:
WPML Blog – if you want to translate your posts and pages then this option will suit you.
WPML CMS – if you want to translate posts, pages and other strings that don’t belong to a specific page or post (such as nav menus, widgets, taglines etc.).
The price is affordable for what you get. It will run you $29 for the blog version and $79 for the CMS. They also sell a lifetime CMS membership for $195 that you can use on many different sites. There is an annual renewal option that gives you access to support and updates.Learn More
The Polylang plugin isn’t perfect but it is proving to be reliable for many people with over 100,000 active installs at the moment. This plugin will integrate with WordPress to make translation easy. It isn’t quite as complete of a solution as WPML, but it is free and works in much the same way. To make Polylang work with WooCommerce via plugin, there is a premium extension available.
The plugin author also made LingoTech translation, which integrates with Polylang. This plugin gives you access to a cloud-based translation management system to work with. Polylang plugin is a popular choice for those on a tight budget who want something that works.Learn More
This is another great multilingual plugin from a reputable author. Takayuki Miyoshi, the author of Contact Form 7 created this plugin. Like his other plugins, Bogo is simple and does what you need it to. Use it to add a language switcher to your site, change the language of the admin screen, translate posts/pages and install language files.
Bogo is a clean solution that doesn’t create any additional tables in the database like other multilingual plugins. This is a simple and easy plugin to use. The documentation may be a little lacking but Bogo is straightforward so it should be easy to figure out. This is a helpful plugin that people are saying good things about. There are still some bugs to be worked (and found) and it would be nice for some features like menu translation to be added. But for a free plugin I think it’s a very nice solution.Learn More
This is a newer multilingual plugin that still has some ways to go, but so far the functionality and support has been foreshadowing good things. It does what you need it to do, run a multilanguage WordPress site without too much headache. This simple,good plugin so far and it is developing quite nicely.
Sublanguages enables you to translate URLs, terms taxonomies and post-types. The User Interface in the admin panel isn’t anything special, all the power for this plugin lies in the use of hooks and filters. Sublanguage works similar to Polylang and WPML. The plugin creates separate files for posts or pages you translate, then it modifies the database table to link the files. This is great for SEO since you will not have any duplicated content.Learn More
Multilanguage by BestWebSoft
Multilanguage by BestWebSoft has been making thousands of WordPress users happy for a while. Unlike WPML or Polylang all the translations must be done manually with this one. The free version on WordPress.org seems to be lacking some features that you could get with other free plugins on this list such as Polylang.
The plugin does have a nice user interface and convenient modal windows to work with. There are some bugs that you will encounter when trying to do certain things but the authors seem to be addressing them. If you want to translate posts and pages Multilanguage by BestWebSoft can help you get the job done easily.Learn More
This plugin works with taxonomies to control which language is displayed on a specific post or page. This is a newer multilingual plugin that is doing well. While it only has 4 out of 5 stars on WordPress.org, I think that will change. There are only 10 ratings so far and the bad ones were put up by users who don’t seem to understand WordPress too well.
With Xili you can customize how you want to setup your multilingual site with hooks and api. The documentation is thorough and support seems responsive. This is one of the best multilanguage plugins for WordPress and it’s still going strong with over 4,000 active installs to date.Learn More
A good mutlilingual plugin will give you a set of tools to translate your site. Translating with WordPress is simple, but it isn’t as automatic as many new theme owners think. Some people get Polylang or WPML and think it’s going to work like a Babel Fish from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
You know, that parasitic fish you wear in your ear to instantly understand any language. While this kind of tech is foreseeable in the next few decades, it’s simply not here yet.
You will still need a translator. Translating languages sort of follows suit with the fresh, frozen then canned rule for vegetables and fruits. With translation – human is best, hybrid is good and machine translation will do. If you have limited resources machine translation may be your best option.
Do you have any favorite translation tools or plugins for WordPress? Are there any specific multilingual setup issues you have had in the past? Let us know in the comments section.