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Wordpress multilingual guide

Mastering WordPress Multilingual: Your Ultimate Guide to a Global Audience

Do you want to build a WordPress website that caters to a global audience? Then, this is your sign to make that switch! ...

So, you have created a lovely business website that does justice to your product/service with an international consumer base to the best of your designer’s and developer’s capability. 

But wait, have you truly hit the nail on the head if your website is not accessible to an international audience in their native language?!

And no, we are not talking about expecting visitors to use Google Translate to check out your offerings because, let’s face it, it’s better to have your website ready in multiple languages than to expect your visitors to translate the page. 

By offering a multilingual website, you demonstrate a genuine concern for your customers and their language preferences. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Here are some numbers:

These numbers spellbindingly emphasize the importance of embracing a WordPress multilingual website if you currently don’t have one. 

With over 3000+ global clients served in the WordPress development services genre, we at Mavlers would love to share our expertise garnered over the past twelve-plus years.

In today’s blog, we will walk you through:

  • Why should you go multilingual
  • How do you plan your multilingual strategy
  • How to go about setting up a WordPress multilingual site

By the end of this blog, you should be well-equipped with the technical know-how to set up a WordPress multilingual site for your business and bring in the ROI that you might have missed earlier with a not-so-global audience-friendly website!

Before you go all “show me the money, honey!” let’s get diggin’! 


Why should you go multilingual?

Building a WordPress multilingual website offers numerous benefits that can significantly impact the success and reach of your online presence. Here are several compelling reasons why you should consider creating a WordPress multilingual site:

1. Expand your reach

Creating content in multiple languages allows you to tap into new markets and reach a broader audience. Instead of limiting your site to a single language, you can attract visitors from different parts of the world, increasing your potential customer base.

2. Enhance user experience

Visitors are more likely to engage with and trust your content if it is available in their native language. A multilingual site provides a better user experience, making it easier for non-native speakers to navigate and understand your content, products, or services.

3. Improve SEO

Multilingual SEO can help you rank higher in search engines for various languages and regions. By optimizing your content for different languages, you increase your chances of appearing in search results for users searching in those languages, driving more organic traffic to your site.

4. Increase sales and conversions

Offering product information in multiple languages can increase sales and conversion rates for e-commerce sites. Customers are more likely to purchase products when they can read descriptions, reviews, and terms in their own language.

5. Build trust and credibility

A multilingual website demonstrates that you are a global player and care about catering to diverse audiences. This can enhance your brand’s credibility and trustworthiness, especially in international markets.

6. Stay ahead of competitors

In many industries, competition is fierce, and having a multilingual site can give you a competitive edge. You can differentiate yourself from competitors who only offer a monolingual experience by providing content in multiple languages.

How do you plan your multilingual strategy?

Planning a multilingual strategy for your WordPress website involves several key steps to ensure that your site effectively reaches and engages a global audience. Here’s a comprehensive guide to planning your multilingual strategy:

1. Identify target languages and regions

  • Analyze your audience: Use tools like Google Analytics to determine the languages your current visitors speak.
  • Market research: Conduct research to identify potential markets with demand for your content, products, or services.
  • Competitor analysis: Look at your competitors to see which languages they offer and identify any gaps or opportunities.

2. Content strategy

  • Cultural adaptation: Adapt your content to resonate with the cultural context of each target region. This goes beyond translation and includes localizing images, idioms, and examples.
  • Consistency: Ensure your brand voice and message are consistent across all languages. This includes maintaining the same tone, style, and terminology.
  • SEO considerations: Research and implement local keywords for each language. Ensure that your content is optimized for search engines in different regions.

3. Choosing the right multilingual plugin

  • Polylang: It offers a free version and is user-friendly, which is ideal for small- to medium-sized sites.
  • MultilingualPress: Uses WordPress multisite for multilingual functionality, providing excellent performance and scalability.

4. Translation method

  • Human translation provides the highest quality and cultural relevance. It can be done in-house or by hiring professional translators.
  • Machine translation: Faster and more cost-effective but may lack accuracy and cultural nuances. Services like Google Translate can be integrated.
  • Hybrid approach: Combining machine translation for initial drafts with human editing to ensure accuracy and cultural relevance.

5. Site structure

  • Subdirectories: For example, These are easier to manage and keep the site structure simple.
  • Subdomains: Example:, This can benefit SEO as search engines may treat subdomains as separate sites.
  • Separate domains: Example:, This is the most complex to manage but can offer the best SEO benefits if done correctly.

6. Technical setup

  • Install and configure your chosen plugin: Follow the setup wizard for the multilingual plugin you choose. Set your default and additional languages.
  • Language switchers: Place language switchers in prominent locations such as the header, footer, or main menu. Customize their appearance to match your site’s design.
  • Translate content: Use the plugin’s interface to add translations for your posts, pages, categories, tags, and other taxonomies.

7. Localization of themes and plugins

  • WPML String Translation: Use this to translate theme and plugin strings.
  • Poedit: For themes and plugins not supporting WPML, use Poedit to create .po and .mo files for translations.

8. User experience and design

  • Responsive design: Ensure your theme is responsive and performs well across different devices and languages.
  • Cultural adaptation: Adapt design elements to fit the cultural context of each language. This may include different images, colors, and layouts.
  • Navigation: Make it easy for users to switch languages and navigate your site in their preferred language.

9. SEO and performance optimization

  • Localized SEO: Optimize meta tags, headers, and content for local search engines. Use hreflang tags to indicate language and regional targeting.
  • Performance: Optimize images, enable caching, and consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to improve load times for international users.

10. Security and maintenance

  • Regular updates: Keep WordPress, themes, plugins, and translations updated to ensure security and functionality.
  • Backup solutions: Implement regular backups to protect against data loss. Use plugins like UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy.
  • Monitoring: Use tools like Google Search Console to monitor for errors and broken links. Regularly check and update translations.

Now that we are clear on the planning that precedes a WordPress multilingual site and its marked benefits, let’s get down to actually making one!

How to go about setting up a WordPress multilingual site?

Setting up a WordPress multilingual site involves several steps, from choosing the right plugin to configuring your site for different languages and optimizing for SEO. Here’s a detailed guide to help you through the process:

Step 1: Choose the right multilingual plugin

The first step is selecting a multilingual plugin that best suits your needs. The most popular options include:

  1. WPML (WordPress Multilingual Plugin)
  • Pros: Comprehensive features, strong community support, compatible with most themes and plugins.
  • Cons: Paid plugin, can be complex for beginners.

2. Polylang

  • Pros: Free version available, user-friendly, supports most themes and plugins.
  • Cons: Advanced features require the Pro version and fewer features compared to WPML.

3. MultilingualPress

  • Pros: It uses WordPress multisite for multilingual functionality, excellent performance, and scalability.
  • Cons: It requires familiarity with WordPress multisite and has a higher learning curve.

For this guide, we’ll focus on WPML due to its extensive features and ease of use.

Step 2: Install and configure WPML

  1. Purchase and download WPML: Go to the WPML website, purchase the plugin, and download the files.
  2. Install WPML:
  • Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
  • Go to Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin.
  • Upload the WPML zip file and click Install Now.
  • Activate the plugin.

3. Configure WPML:

  • After activation, you’ll be prompted to run the WPML setup wizard.
  • Select your site’s current language.
  • Choose the additional languages you want to add.
  • Configure the language switcher. You can choose to display it in the menu, widget, or footer.

Step 3: Add and translate content

  1. Translate posts and pages:
  • Go to the Posts or Pages section in your dashboard.
  • You’ll see a column for each of your languages. Click the “+” icon next to the post/page you want to translate.
  • Add the translated content and publish.

2. Translate categories and tags:

  • Go to WPML > Taxonomy Translation.
  • Select the taxonomy (e.g., categories, tags) and translate them into your chosen languages.

3. Translate menus:

  • Go to Appearance > Menus.
  • Create a menu for each language or use WPML to sync menus between languages.

Step 4: Localize themes and plugins

  1. String translation:
  • Navigate to WPML > String Translation.
  • Here, you can translate theme and plugin strings. This includes text in your theme’s settings, plugin settings, widgets, and more.

2. Using Poedit for manual translation:

  • If your theme or plugins are not fully compatible with WPML, you can use Poedit to create translation files (.po and .mo).
  • Download the .pot file from your theme or plugin, open it in Poedit, translate the strings, and save it as a .po file for each language.

Step 5: Optimize for SEO

  1. Hreflang tags:
  • WPML automatically adds hreflang tags to your site, helping search engines understand which language versions of your pages should be shown in different regions.

2. Localized URLs:

  • Ensure your URLs are localized. WPML allows you to choose different URL structures (e.g., subdirectories, subdomains, or domains) for different languages.

3. Translate meta tags:

  • Use an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO. WPML integrates with Yoast SEO, allowing you to translate SEO titles, descriptions, and other meta tags.

4. Sitemap:

  • Generate a multilingual sitemap. If you’re using Yoast SEO, it will automatically include all language versions of your pages in the sitemap.

Step 6: Enhance user experience

  1. Responsive design:
  • Ensure your theme is responsive and works well across all devices and languages.

2. Language switcher placement:

  • Place the language switcher in a prominent location (e.g., header, menu, footer). Customize its appearance to match your site’s design.

3. Cultural adaptation:

  • Adapt images, idioms, and examples to fit the cultural context of each language. This enhances user engagement and relevance.

Step 7: Performance and security

  1. Performance optimization:
  • Optimize images and use lazy loading to reduce load times.
  • Implement caching solutions like WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache.
  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to serve content faster to international users.

2. Security measures:

  • Regularly update WordPress, themes, plugins, and translations.
  • Use security plugins like Wordfence or Sucuri.
  • Implement regular backups with plugins like UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy.

Step 8: Regular maintenance

  1. Update translations:
  • Regularly update translations to reflect any changes in the original content.

2. Monitor for errors:

  • Use tools like Google Search Console to monitor for errors and broken links.

3. User feedback:

  • Gather feedback from users in different languages to continually improve the multilingual experience.

The road ahead

Now that you are clear about the benefits of switching to a WordPress multilingual website for your business, you might want to learn why WordPress gets hacked and how Mavlers can help prevent that

Did you like this post? Do share it!
Naina Sandhir - Content Writer

A content writer at Mavlers, Naina pens quirky, inimitable, and damn relatable content after an in-depth and critical dissection of the topic in question. When not hiking across the Himalayas, she can be found buried in a book with spectacles dangling off her nose!

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