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What are WordPress translation plugins?

By Josian Phillips, 

Having a multilingual website is crucial to reach an international audience. If you don’t want to create a separate website for each country you’re targeting, then you can create a multilingual version of your website using a translation plugin.

WordPress translation plugins are the best way to make your website accessible for an international audience. We’ll take you through the basics to help you get a better understanding.

What are translation plugins?

Translation plugins can be installed on your WordPress-hosted website and add additional features to help manage multilingual content. This means that a native Spanish speaker would be able to choose their own language, even though the website has been designed in English.

There are two types of WordPress translation plugins:

  1. The first type allows for automatic, machine translation of your website content. The main caveat here is that the quality won’t be up to scratch.
  2. The other enables you to create and manage multilingual content, where the translation comes from external source.

Both plugins help to serve the right content in a particular language, thus keeping international users on site.

What are the benefits of using translation plugins?

If you’re thinking about using translation plugins but want to know if it’ll be worth it, here are some of the pros for you to consider:

  1. You are likely to receive an increase in sales

According to an article published by the Harvard Business Review, the Common Sense Advisory states that 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. And over half said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price. So, international customers are clearly more likely to buy from your site if the content is written in their native language.

  1. Higher levels of customer satisfaction

Being able to provide help, answer questions and generally offer users content in their native language is sure to improve their buying experience, which will ultimately lead to happier, more loyal customers.

  1. Increased web traffic

Once the technical side of things has been set up properly and the content has been optimised for international audiences using multilingual SEO, your website is set for an increase in organic traffic. This will aid visibility, which is great for brand development and helping to your sales growth.

Are there any downsides to translation plugins?

It’s clear that translated content can benefit your business. However, creating content using translation plugins can cause some issues:

  1. Automatic translation is not as authentic and good as human translation

Mistakes can be made when text is translated by a machine due to its inability to understand context. Native speakers will undoubtedly pick up on this, and this can damage the reliability of your brand. Although these mistakes might not be detrimental to the meaning of the text, they could affect the customer’s decision to make a purchase.

  1. Use of language can be limited

Automated translations will often include the simplest word when translating. The translated text could still make sense, but the style and flow will be interrupted by the limited vocabulary. There won’t be any regard to brand style or tone of voice, which creates an inconsistent brand experience.

  1. Limited control over SEO

Using automatic translation means that the text might not include phrases or keywords that would help increase your search visibility. Plus, the translated content is only visible to the user who decides to switch the language, and it’s not actually indexed by search engines.

What are the best WordPress translation plugins?

There are quite a few options out there, some come at a cost and others are completely free. Here are three of the available options out there:

  1. WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML)

Arguably the most popular plugin, the WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML) offers a paid translation service. The platform, which Brightlines offers to its customers, allows you to translate all posts, web pages – even custom post types.

Some of the main features offered by WPML are as follows:

  • Only requires one WordPress installation.
  • Powerful translation management into over 40 languages.
  • You’re able to build and run multilingual ecommerce sites.
  • Translation is available for theme and plugin texts.
  • The software works with most WordPress themes.
  • Reliable support from developers.

WPML is very affordable in comparison to other paid platforms, and offers a seamless and easy-to-use system. Have a look at the WPML demo video for a quick overview of its services:

 

  1. Polylang

Polylang is a WordPress translation plugin that allows you to create multilingual content in as many languages as you need. There are versions of the software that are both free or paid for, but the most popular is the free version. The features of the free version are as follows:

  • Translate content such as posts, pages, media, categories and tags.
  • Translate custom post types and custom taxonomies.
  • Translate menus and widgets.
  • Use subdirectories, subdomains or separate domains.
  • API compatibility with WPML.

In addition to these features, the Polylang Pro paid version also offers the following capabilities:

  • Duplicate posts across languages.
  • Enable or disable languages.
  • REST API support.
  • Additional integration with plugins.
  • Premium support.

WordPress has created a short video showing how to create a multilingual site using Polylang:

  1. Weglot

Weglot is a paid WordPress translation plugin, but it offers a free 10-day trial. Weglot differs slightly from WPML and Polylang, with a heavier focus on automatic translation and an external cloud interface to manage translations as opposed to being handled on the WordPress dashboard.

The main features of Weglot are as follows:

  • Content detection for automatic translation.
  • Use of an in-context editor.
  • Both automatic and human translation.
  • Translation is optimised for SEO.
  • An auto-redirection for visitors to your site.
  • Localised experience throughout the entire customer journey.

Have a look at Weglot’s step-by-step video:

For more information on WordPress translation plugins, have a look at the official WordPress blog, which looks at the best plugins available.

Any questions?

If you have any questions about using WordPress translation plugins, or if you would like more information about our all-in-one website translation service, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Whether you are a global brand with worldwide presence, or a niche SME serving their biggest international markets, we’d be happy to help!

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