WordPress-based site translation – which plugin to choose?Paweł Polejowski
WordPress is the most well-known CMS system (Content Management System) in the market. Its popularity stems from the fact that it is easy to operate and can be customised to suit our individual needs with the help of plugins. Some of them make it possible to translate a published content into other languages and transform our website into an international one. Which of them are the most useful when we want to translate our WordPress-based store?
The WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML)
WPML is a plugin available only in a paid version. The cost of buying the basic version, which gives us the possibility of adding translation solely from the standard WordPress built-in post editor, amounts to $39 per year. This version of the plugin was created mainly for bloggers aspiring to an international career.
The Multilingual CMS version costs $99 per year. At this price, we get:
- an advanced translation editor, similar to a basic CAT tool;
- access to machine translation;
- the possibility of translating the content of plugins and themes;
- the possibility of managing translations – which is especially helpful when we want to cooperate with a translation agency;
- the possibility of translating WooCommerce.
The WPML plugin allows us to translate every element of our website, including the content of our posts, static website elements and plugins, as well as the administration panel. Translation management via WordPress lets us assign the task of translating specific elements of our website to translators or translation agencies of our choice. A good example of such translation agency is locatheart.
Moreover, WPML fully supports the international SEO. For instance, we can choose what our URL will look like in different language versions:
- different domains for different language versions (domain.pl – Polish, domain.com – English);
- different language versions in different links (domain.pl – Polish version, domain.pl/en/ – English version);
- language versions as the URL parameter (https://domain.pl?lang=ar – Arabic).
Additionally, WPML allows us to translate URL addresses, meta titles and descriptions. Thanks to that, each language version is equally well optimised in terms of SEO.
The authors of the plugin also ensure that it works well with the most popular themes and plugins. What is more, the support team, available 6 days a week, 19 hours a day, makes sure that the device is fully operational at all times. All of these aspects make WPML a versatile, stable and safe plugin. That is why we have opted for it while generating our website which is available in both Polish and English language versions.
Loco Translate is a plugin created primarily for developers. It is designed to translate the main elements of a WordPress-based website, namely plugins and themes.
This plugin is there to help us when we decide to use a theme or a plugin not yet translated into a language we want to use on our website or if such translation is incomplete. Such is the case in the example presented below, where only 50% of the OceanWP theme is translated from English into Polish.
By using the Loco Translate plugin, we may complete a missing translation or correct an already existing one. We have the option of doing it on our own or delegating it to a professional translator – in the case of the latter, we would have to assign them the translator status, thanks to which they would be able to modify translations of themes and plugins via Loco Translate.
Loco Translate is a plugin created for translating files with the PO extension which is the static text visible on websites (button labels, form prompts, etc.). It means that we cannot use it to translate the content of posts or websites, since they are saved in the database of our website, not in the form of files with the PO extension.
If a theme and plugins used by us do not exceed 2,000 lines of text, we may use Loco Translate entirely for free; however, if we need to translate more content, we have to pay from $5.95 for 5,000 lines of text to $29.95 for 125,000 lines of text.
MultilingualPress is a paid plugin that allows us to translate a website on WordPress.
It has all the functions necessary to easily perform activities supporting the positioning of our website in international markets.
MultilingualPress makes it possible to translate themes and plugins. It works smoothly with the most popular builders in the market, such as Gutenberg or Elementor.
MultilingualPress is available in three packages. Each of them gives us access to the plugin for 365 days.
- Standard – $99 – 3 languages, one website.
- Pro – $299 – 6 languages, 3 websites.
- Agency – $599 – 18 languages, 9 websites.
Polylang is available in two versions – a free one and a paid one.
The free version allows us to translate posts, websites, plugins and metadata, and to choose URL addresses under which each language version of our website will be available.
It means that all basic functions that a good plugin used for translating a WordPress-based website should have are available in the free version of Polylang.
Additionally, if we require a wider selection of functions, we may buy the PRO version which will give us, among other things, access to the support team and automatic updates.
The cost of a yearly subscription is €99. Renewing it amounts to half this price.
TranslatePress is a free plugin which allows us to translate our website from its front end (the overview of what the website looks like on a computer screen). Not only is it compatible with WordPress-based websites, but it also allows us to translate WooCommerce-based websites, including product descriptions, with a front-end overview of the translation in real time.
It should be noted though that the free version of TranslatePress does not include the SEO support. Only when we opt for a paid version of the plugin (from €89 per year to €249 per year) do we gain access to functions such as translating URL addresses, meta titles and descriptions, and become able to work with popular SEO plugins, such as YoastSEO and Rank Math.
GTranslate is a plugin that allows us to translate the content available on our website automatically. Although this plugin makes it possible to translate our website into as many as 100 languages even in its free version, we have to remember that those are statistical machine translations; therefore, they will most likely contain a lot of mistakes.
When using the free version of this plugin, we cannot edit those translations – only the paid version gives us this possibility.
In view of all that, the free version is a temporary solution at best, for situations in which time is of the essence and we want to publish our website translation before the task can be tackled by professional translators.
If we care about the translation quality, we will have to buy the paid version of the plugin eventually to review the translation done by GTranslate.
We explain here why it is not the best idea to use machine translation.
We gain access to the “SEO-friendly” functions solely in the paid version of the plugin as well. Thanks to them, our website translation will index in every language selected by us. We also have the possibility of choosing a separate URL address for each language version (e.g., fr.domain.com for a French version and pl.domain.com for a Polish version) or choosing a separate domain for each language version (e.g., domain.pl for a Polish version and domain.fr for a French version).
Prices of the paid option vary from $9.99 to $39.99 per month – depending on which functions of the plugin we want to have access to. The cheapest package allows us to translate our website in one language pair only.
Weglot is not only a plugin for WordPress and WooCommerce, but also a full-fledged app that can integrate with the most popular e-commerce systems, such as Shopify, Wix or Magento.
Weglot’s main focus is on automatic translation which we can later edit on our own.
Similarly to other paid plugins, Weglot fully supports the international SEO.
The payment model is especially interesting. It is based on the number of words translated via Weglot. There is also a free version available that allows us to translate 2,000 words into one language – the first paid threshold is $12 per month for 10,000 words. The Advanced package allows us to translate 1 million words into 10 different languages for $239 per month.
WordPress translation plugins – summary
As we can see, there are quite a few interesting options when it comes to plugins for translating a WordPress-based website. The majority of them are paid or uploaded in a freemium model (there is a free version available, but we have to pay to gain access to the truly useful functions).
In the case of translation plugins, most paid solutions make it possible to optimise content and the website itself with regard to SEO in different language versions. As for differences between them, the most obvious ones are the interface itself and the business model adopted by producers; therefore, the key factor would be to determine which plugin we find most suited to our needs – and most affordable.
It is worth keeping in mind that even though almost all plugins support various forms of machine translation, it is only translation provided by professional translators that ensures its correctness. Similarly, even though they support different functions that assist the SEO-based website optimisation, plugins will not select suitable key words for us, and the translation of phrases suggested by them may not fully reflect the phrases actually used by speakers of a given language.
No matter which plugin we decide to use – it is always best to delegate translation of a website to professionals.