How to Automatically Translate WordPress

There is hardly a website out there that cannot benefit from being multilingual. Sure, if your website is only focused around a certain demographic, and that demographic only speaks one language, you can afford to avoid translating WordPress. But, seeing that people are more multicultural than ever you really ought to see the bigger picture and help people discover your website, no matter where they are from or what language they speak. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at how to automatically translate WordPress and the benefits of doing so.

The benefits of having a multilingual website

For most of history, translating a website was a painstaking process. If you had the inclination, or you could afford a translator, you maybe could afford to translate your main pages and perhaps a couple of posts. But, posting regularly and having those posts translated was either impossible, or it would cost a fortune. Luckily, this is no longer the case. Modern software allows us to automate the translation process and therefore translate both posts and pages in a fraction of the time. True, you still cannot solely rely on automated translation software, as there will probably be certain syntax and grammar issues to fix (depending on the language). But, all things considered, the software is efficient enough to make running a multilingual website relatively cost-efficient. With this in mind, let’s now explore how to go about automatic translation in WordPress.

People of different ethnicities all reading on the same laptop, showing you why you ought to automatically translate WordPress websites.
There is hardly a reason for you not to have a multilingual website.

Automatically Translate WordPress website

In our experience, the easier way to set up the automatic translation in WordPress is with WPML. There are different plugins that you can use like:

  • Google Website Translator.
  • MultilingualPress
  • TranslatePress.
  • Translate WordPress with GTranslate.
  • Polylang.
  • Weglot.

But unfortunately, we cannot cover them all in a single article. On the other hand, once you understand the basics of WPML, we are confident that you will find your way around other plugins. So, don’t shy away from installing them if WPML doesn’t suit you.

Using WPML

The first thing to do is to download and install WPML. As always, we suggest that you make a backup of your website before you do. That way, if WPML has some weird interactions with your website or your plugins, you can easily revert to the backed-up version. Once you activate the WPML click on the “Register Now” button. This will take you to a separate page where you’ll need to enter your key. The key itself is located under your profile on the WPML account (if you haven’t received it via email).

Once you handle this head on to the WordPress admin page and open the WMPL -> Languages. Here you will open the basic setting for optimizing your automated software. You will first choose the main language. If you already have content, the main language needs to be the same as your content. By clicking the Next button you will head to the page where you choose the languages you wish to translate into.

Different country flags written in chalk.
As it is now, WMPL offers 60 languages. So, you should be quite covered.

After this, you will have the option to add the language switcher. You can add it to either your navigation menu or to the widget area. These are just the basic options, as with widgets you can have quite a bit of freedom when it comes to web design. The final thing to choose is whether the link for the translation will be above or below your content. Enabling this option also gives you the freedom to choose how your links will look.

The rest of the setup is merely formal to increase your experience with WMPL. You can choose to send plugin and theme information to WMPL.org, which can help with optimization. You will need to enter your site key if you haven’t done so beforehand. And finally, you will get the recommendations for WMPL components to install. We suggest that you start with String Translation and Translation Management.

Translating content

To actually start translating content, you need to open the WordPress admin and head to the WPML -> Translation management page. Here you can choose who will be able to translate your website. If you have a translator you can choose the option to include them. But, if you don’t, opt for “Only Myself”. The next few options are all about Advanced Translation Editor, so we suggest that you simply click on continue. Once you are finished, you will get a Summary where you simply need to click on Done. This will take you to your Translation Management dashboard.

Once in it, open the Translation Tools tab. Here you need to click on the Sign Up For Free option, after which you will have to enter some billing details. After this, click on the Translation Dashboard tab. Here you can choose which content you want to be translated. The program will inform you about the word count, which will be useful for billing.

A person typing something on a laptop keyboard.
With WPML you can take 2000 words every week and automatically translate them in WordPress for free.

The next thing to do is to scroll down to the Select translation options section. With it, you can change the type of translation (whether you want it in all selected languages or only some). Once you’ve made your selection, click on the “Add selected content to translation basket”.

At the top of your screen, you will see a “Translation Basket” tab. By clicking it you can find out the total word count, and the list of pages ready for translation. Click on the “Send all items for translation” button. A success message should pop up.

After this, head to the WordPress admin and open the WPML -> Translations page. In the translation queue that pops up, you can simply click on the “Take and translate” button to automatically translate the page. In the window that pops up simply click on “Yes, translate automatically”. This will have WPML automatically translate WordPress by using machine learning.

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