WordPress plugins for a multilingual website

WordPress is free and open-source software, first released in 2003, that currently powers more than 27% of websites around the world. An entire industry has grown up around it thanks to its convenience, stability and scalability. Among the most important of its design features are the use of plugins, which enable users to enhance and adapt functionality, tailoring it to their own website or blog. Here we focus on plugins for creating multilingual websites, so that your company communicates with new target audiences in their own language. There are dozens of different options available so we’ve selected our top three.

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WPML

Robust, advanced features and technical support offered in multiple languages make this one of the most popular multilingual plugins around. Its functionality allows you to translate content yourself or via a professional translation service provider. Each item of content (pages, posts, menus, headers, etc.) can be translated in the interface, linking quickly to in-situ visualisation so translations can be viewed within the context of the page itself (always a good idea!). Alternatively, content can be exported to XLIFF and sent to professional linguists for translation before being imported back into the system. WPML also offers a high level of compatibility with other major plugins (SEO, ecommerce, etc.) meaning that the different features of your multilingual website fit seamlessly together.
Pricing: Multilingual Blog – $29 (plus annual account renewal of $15); Multilingual CMS – $79 (plus annual account renewal of $39); Multilingual CMS Lifetime – $195 (no renewal needed).

qTranslate X

This plugin is a rebooted version of qTranslate, a long-time tried and tested multilingual plugin, and is a simple, convenient solution for content localization. This simplicity is derived from the way the plugin adds additional tabs to the WordPress editor to make working with multiple languages as simple as working with one. Furthermore, the Language Switcher feature allows users to choose the language version they want to view regardless of what page they are on and is especially useful for dynamic content. qTranslate X offers free machine translation (be careful!) as well as supporting professional translation by humans. The developers don’t require you to pay a subscription or installation fee but request that you make an affordable donation so that they can maintain and provide support to their users (see qtranslatexteam.wordpress.com/donations/ for more details).
Pricing: Free, but annual donation is politely requested.

Polylang

Another popular WordPress multilingual plugin, Polylang rates highly among its user base as a way of simultaneously managing content on their websites across numerous languages. Polylang enables you to use unique domains or subdomains per language and to automatically copy categories and tags during translation. It supports RTL scripts and facilitates content translation in unlimited languages. This WordPress plugin is also available as a premium version, Polylang Pro, that includes a premium support service and additional features, such as post duplication across languages, the option to enable or disable languages, as well as additional integration with other plugins.
Pricing: Polylang – Free; Polylang Pro – €99 (1 site), €198 (3 sites), €297 (5 sites), €495 (25 sites).

While these three plugins are all good solutions for multilingual website content translation, we’d also like to sound note of caution at this point as some others exist solely as a means of integrating automatic machine translation into website creation. The benefits of this are related to speed (as translated content is generated instantly) and costs (because there generally aren’t any!). However, as is always the case with machine translation, there is a high risk of poor quality translation that search engines may consider to be spam, and we’re sure that that’s not the type of content you’d like appearing on your website.

WPML, qTranslate X and Polylang are among the most popular plugins on WordPress for website translation and multilingual content creation and we’ve selected them here as they all integrate well within a wider translation workflow, whether you opt to do the translation yourself or partner with a language service provider. Identifying the right price/functionality combination for you will depend on the situation you’re in.