If you want to build a thriving website, you need to reach as wide an audience as possible. Creating lots of top-quality content helps – but you shouldn’t stop there. To maximize your site’s potential, it’s smart to translate it into a variety of languages.
Of course, this may seem like an intimidating task, particularly if you aren’t multilingual yourself. Fortunately, WordPress users have it easy. By using the right plugin, you can translate your site into other languages quickly and effortlessly.
In this post, we’ll talk a little about why you might want to build a multilingual website. We’ll also show you how to get started, using a WordPress translation plugin. Let’s jump right in!
Why you might want to make your WordPress site multilingual
The success of most websites is measured by their traffic levels. After all, by attracting more visitors you can grow your audience and increase the number of potential customers. In fact, most website owners are constantly looking for ways to drive more traffic.
One highly-effective by often overlooked strategy for driving more traffic is translation. Most of the time, you’ll build your website using whatever language you’re most comfortable with – or the language most of your target audience speaks – and call it a day.
In contrast, making your site multilingual (as in, available in multiple languages) provides a number of benefits. These include:
- Expanding your potential audience. Less than a quarter of internet users live in the Americas combined, which means there’s a huge international market just waiting to be tapped into.
- Better serving your target users. If you take the time to build a profile of your ideal audience, you may be surprised at how many of them speak languages other than English. Offering content in their native language improves your site’s User Experience (UX).
- Improved rankings in search engines. As long as your multilingual site is well-optimized for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you’re likely to see an uptick in referrals from old and new search engines alike.
To gain these advantages, some companies go so far as to create entirely separate websites in different languages. While this strategy can work, it’s very time-consuming. An easier (yet still effective) approach is to simply translate your existing website.
How to choose a WordPress translation plugin
It’s no secret that plugins are one of the best things about the WordPress platform. Using the right plugins, you can create just about any type of website you can imagine, and add all sorts of useful features to it.
What’s more, you can even use a plugin to quickly translate your site into other languages. There are a number of options out there – so it’s important to make your choice carefully. You’ll want to look for a plugin that:
- Supports a wide variety of languages
- Optimizes your site and content for multilingual SEO
- Makes the translation process simple and streamlined
- Lets you edit translations as needed
For an example of these features in action, you can check out the Weglot WordPress translation plugin:
This tool offers over 100 languages, as well as a central dashboard that helps you easily manage all your translations. It even takes care of many crucial SEO tasks for you, so you’ll know your multilingual content is likely to rank well.
Best of all, you can try out Weglot for free. You’ll be able to translate up to 2,000 words of content into one additional language. If you’re happy with the results, you can then upgrade to a premium plan, in order to expand the plugin’s functionality.
How to translate your WordPress website (In 4 steps)
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to get practical. In the following sections, we’ll walk you through how to translate your website using Weglot!
Step 1: Install the Weglot Plugin
This first step is the simplest. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New. Use the search field to locate “Weglot Translate”, and select the Install Now button:
Give WordPress a few minutes to work. A new button labeled Activate will appear – go ahead and click on that as well. That’s all it takes to set up the free version of this plugin on your website.
Step 2: Create a Weglot API Key
In order to use the plugin’s translation features, you’ll need a Weglot account. You’ll also need to connect that account to your site using a unique key. This may sound intimidating, but it’s actually a quick process.
Head over to the Weglot website, and sign up for a free account. All you’ll need is an email address and password:
You’ll be asked to confirm your account via an email that’s sent to the address you provide. After that, you can access your new Weglot profile:
At the very top of the page, you’ll find an API key. Copy this, and go back to your WordPress dashboard. Click on the new Weglot tab, and enter the key into the first field:
Save your changes, or simply hit Enter. Your key will be activated, and you’ll be ready to start translating your website.
Step 3: Configure your translation settings
At this point, it’s time to make your site multilingual. To do this, you’ll need to use the settings listed under the Weglot tab. You’ve already added your API key – now check out the following two fields:
These settings are actually all that’s required for the plugin to work. Under Original Language, you’ll want to select the language your site is currently using. You can then choose one or more Destination Languages, in order to translate your content. Remember that if you’re using the free plugin you can use one language, while premium tiers let you add multiple options.
The rest of the settings on this page are optional. However, you may still find them useful, so let’s take a look at what’s available.
First, it’s important to understand how Weglot actually works for the user. In short, it lets them translate your content into their preferred language with the click of a button. Under Language button appearance, you can customize what that button looks like:
You can choose whether you want the button to be a drop-down menu or a list of languages, whether to include flags and labels for each language, and even add custom CSS. You can see what the resulting button will look like under Preview.
Then, under Language button position, you can decide where the button will be placed:
By default, it will be located in the bottom right-hand corner of your site’s pages. However, you can add it to a menu or sidebar instead, or place it just about anywhere using a shortcode.
Finally, if there are specific pages you don’t want to translate, you can list them out under Translation Exclusion:
When you’re done configuring these settings, click on Save Changes at the bottom of the page. Then, you can move on to the final task.
Step 4: Place and test your translation button
Once you enter your API key and choose a translation language, Weglot will automatically be up and running on your site. You can see it in action by previewing any page:
If you use the button to select an alternative language, you’ll see your content translated right away:
As we mentioned, you can also move this button to make it more prominent. For instance, if you go to Appearance > Widgets, you’ll find a new module called Weglot Translate:
Drag and drop this into any of your site’s widget areas, and give it a title if you want. Then, preview your site again to make sure it’s in the right place:
With that, you’ve successfully made your WordPress site multilingual! In many cases, the plugin’s automatic translations will be sufficient. However, keep in mind that you can edit translations manually if you want, by visiting the Translations List in your Weglot dashboard:
There’s a lot more you can do with the Weglot plugin, especially if you happen to be a developer. We recommend checking out its full documentation for more details. For now, however, your new translated site is ready to go.
There are many benefits to providing your website in multiple languages. However, many people assume that the process is too difficult to be worth it. However, if your site is built using WordPress, all you need is the right plugin.
In this article, we’ve shown you how to make your site multilingual using a WordPress translation plugin. All this requires is four steps:
- Install the Weglot plugin.
- Create a Weglot API key.
- Configure your translation settings.
- Place and test your translation button.
Related reading: 4 Best WordPress Translation Plugins To Create A Multilingual Site.