Looking to go multilingual on your WordPress site? With over 3 billion Internet users in the world, I don’t blame you! But if you want to make WordPress multilingual, you’ll need to pick one of the many WordPress translation plugins out there.
It’s a big decision…which is why I’m going to try to help you out in this post. I’ll share the three best WordPress translation plugins. Then, I’ll try to illuminate some differences between the three plugins so that you can pick the translation plugin that’s best for your specific needs.
What To Expect From These WordPress Translation Plugins
Ok, here’s the deal:
There are way more than three translation plugins out there. But you’re only seeing three plugins on this list because these are the best of the best. All three of them offer the most important multilingual features in some form or another. That means with any one of these plugins you can:
- Create an indexable, crawlable, SEO-friendly translated version of your site.
- Use automatic (machine) translation or manual translation.
- Easily outsource to professional human translators.
- Translate your entire site, including menus, widgets, URLs, and more.
- Offer your visitors an easy language switcher button.
The difference is in how each plugin goes about this. For example, if you’re focused on automatic translation, Weglot definitely has the easiest approach. Both Polylang and WPML still give you a way to automatically translate your site, but not in anywhere near as simple of a package.
All that to say – each one of these plugins is a solid option in its own right. Your choice should just come down to your budget, desire for “ease of use”, and need for specific niche functionality.
Let’s dig in…
Polylang – The Most Flexible Free Version
While there is a Pro version of Polylang with some added features, Polylang definitely has the most flexible free version of any translation plugin that I’ve looked at.
Polylang lets you fully translate every part of your WordPress site. That means posts, pages, custom post types, taxonomies, widgets…everything.
You can create an entirely translated version of your site a few different ways:
- Separate domain
And your visitors can easily switch between languages with a new language switcher widget in your navigation menu.
It’s also incredibly easy to use on the backend. You get a new Languages meta box in the WordPress Editor that allows you to easily edit different translations of your site:
Similarly, Polylang will also automatically create different menus so that you can localize your menus as well:
For other options that need to be localized, you’ll find similar multilingual capabilities.
Everything above is available in the free version. Honestly, there are really only two scenarios in which you might need to pay for the Pro version:
- You’re running a WooCommerce store. Then you’ll need the dedicated WooCommerce add-on.
- You’re using custom post types heavily. You can’t edit custom post type URL slugs without the Pro version (you can edit custom post type content in the free version, though).
What About Actually Translating Your Content?
Up until now, you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned anything about, you know, actually translating your content. That’s because, as far as the core Polylang plugin is concerned, you have to do everything yourself.
But…that’s not always the case.
See, there’s also a separate plugin from the same developer called Lingotek Translation that syncs with Polylang and allows you to bring in a variety of translation services.
When you add on Lingotek Translation to Polylang, you get the ability to translate your content with:
- Machine Translation – Using the commercial Microsoft Translator API, Lingotek can automatically translate your site into different languages. Free for the first 100,000 characters, after that you pay.
- Professional – Use your own agency or use one of the Lingotek marketplace’s 5,000+ translators to translate your content and easily sync it up with your WordPress site.
- Community – The integrated Lingotek Workbench makes it easy to let your employees or users collaborate on translating your site.
Weglot – Slick Automatic and Manual Translation
Weglot is, hands-down, the easiest to use WordPress translation plugin. If you want the quickest, most hassle-free method of translating your site, it’s absolutely Weglot.
When you activate the Weglot plugin on your site, all you need to do is sync up with your Weglot account via API, choose your desired languages, and configure your language switcher button:
Then, Weglot automatically creates a fully translated version of your site with machine translation. It’s seriously fast. The whole process from monolingual to multilingual takes just a couple of minutes.
Then, if you want to add some refinement to the machine translated content, you can always hop into Weglot’s user-friendly interface to either:
- Manually edit your translations
- Order professional translations
You can either edit content in what is basically a cloud-based .pro file, or you can use Weglot’s neat visual editor to just point and click on content. Any changes you make in Weglot’s interface are automatically pushed to your live site.
The only potential downside of Weglot? You’re not necessarily going to get all that ease of use for free.
There is a free plan that supports up to 2,000 translated words for one language. But after that, you’ll need one of the paid plans which start from 9.90€ /month.
Note – Weglot translations are stored outside your database. But if you decide to stop using the Weglot service, Weglot has stated that they will happily export your translations for you. So you won’t lose your translations as a result of moving away from Weglot.
WPML – The WordPress Translation Stalwart
Finally, we come to WPML. WPML is, rightfully, one of the most well-known names in WordPress translation. It’s well-supported and used by literally hundreds of thousands of sites, so you’re definitely not going to go wrong with WPML.
Like the other plugins, WPML creates a fully-translated, 100% crawlable version of your site. Just as with Polylang, you can create those separate version as:
- Completely different domains
Again like Polylang, you can easily manage the different versions of your pages straight from your WordPress dashboard:
And you can also translate specific strings from themes or plugins in a separate String translation interface:
WPML also has nifty smaller features like the ability to easily translate text used in page builder layouts. These small, but thoughtful, features are one thing that helps it stand out.
What About Actually Translating Your Content?
Like Polylang (and unlike Weglot), WPML won’t translate your actual content by itself. But it does give you a few different methods to help you translate your content.
First off, WPML integrates with a variety of translation services. Some of these services support both manual and automatic translations. So by choosing the right service for your needs, you can translate your site with whatever level of accuracy you require.
Beyond those integrations, WPML also lets you turn regular WordPress users into Translators. You can use this custom user role to easily assign specific translations to users (or freelancers), rather than outsourcing to a professional service:
How Much Does WPML Cost?
WPML comes in a few different versions depending on your needs. For basic translations, you can go with the $29 Multilingual Blog package. But most of the time – I recommend going with the $79 Multilingual CMS package because it’s the only package that lets you create a 100% localized site.
Wrapping Things Up
Of the three plugins, I’d say WPML and Polylang are fairly similar, while Weglot is in a space all of its own.
If you want the absolute easiest way to translate your WordPress site and are willing to possibly put up with a monthly charge, then Weglot is definitely your best option. You won’t find a quicker way to create a multilingual WordPress site.
If you’d prefer something that won’t hit you with a monthly fee, you really won’t go wrong with WPML or Polylang.
Polylang is great because it lets you get started for free and likely has 99% of the features that you’ll need.
But I’d say WPML does have a bit deeper functionality when it comes to translation management and some other smaller areas – you’ll just need to pay $79 to get it.