The web is a vast space, where you can reach any audience anywhere in the world as you expand your business’ reach into new international markets — you just need the right WordPress translation plugin to help you achieve this.
With WordPress, you can translate your entire website into multiple languages, providing rich content to your target market with the help of a translation plugin. There are, however, many different translation plugins available for WordPress, all with varying features, functionality, quality, and price points.
This can lead to a dilemma: which WordPress translation plugin is best for your business?
To help guide you through the decision process, we’ll take a deep dive into the important factors worth considering when choosing a translation plugin for your site. We’ll also explore why Weglot stands out as the leading WordPress translation plugin for every kind of online business.
9 Essential Considerations When Choosing a WordPress Translation Plugin
When you google “WordPress translation plugin,” 15.6 million results are returned. Talk about overwhelming! There are plenty of list posts that try to convince you of the best translation plugins for WordPress, but they tend to feature the same plugins every time.
So how do you go about choosing the best WordPress translation plugin for your business?
Reading reviews and list posts is a good start. Despite their sameness, these posts will give you a feel for the “lay of the land,” particularly as there are some translation plugins that are more popular and provide better quality translations compare to others.
You’ll then want to choose one or two options that you think best suit your business’ needs and try them out. The only way you can really get to know if a WordPress translation plugin will work for you is if you set it up and explore how it works, and identify its pros and cons.
To help you identify which WordPress translation plugin is best for your business, there are several factors to consider.
1. Supported Languages
Does the plugin support all the languages you want to translate your content into?
Most plugins advertise support for dozens of languages, which is impressive, but it doesn’t tell you exactly which languages are supported. Rather than assume popular languages like German or French are supported, check the plugin’s website to confirm the languages you need are indeed available.
It’s also important to plan for any countries or markets you might wish to expand into in future, so check that any languages you might need later are available, too.
2. Machine vs Human Translations
Does the plugin support machine or human translations, or both?
With WordPress translation plugins, there are two primary methods of translation available: machine translation and human translation.
Method 1: Machine Translation
If you’ve used Google Translate, you’re already familiar with one of the most popular examples of machine translation. This type of translation relies on online translation services (such as Google Translate) and translation packs to translate your content into other languages.
Machine translation is just that — machine translated words. There’s no human intervention or editing, which makes this type of translation fast, and often free. The only issue with machine translations is that, since machines can’t pick up on the nuances of languages, such as context, it can sometimes output mistakes.
While first generation online translation tools were mocked in the past for outputting gibberish, tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM have been investing huge resources into neural machine translation algorithms in recent years. By leveraging AI, today’s machine translation can yield excellent results.
Method 2: Human Translation
Human translations are carried out by real people — experienced, professionally-trained translators who have a native-level fluency of the target language. Human translations are accurate and more natural sounding as translators are able to interpret the cultural nuances of languages far better than a machine can.
Human translators can interpret context and capture the intended meaning, rather than simply translate words. They can interpret the creative and colorful use of language, such as puns, expressions, sarcasm, idioms, and metaphors. Humans can also distinguish words where literal translation isn’t possible, and find suitable alternatives.
Choosing a WordPress Translation Method
WordPress translation plugins typically offer one or both of the above methods. You can also adopt a hybrid method where you use machine translation to automatically convert your content into another language and then manually edit any errors. This is your best option as it’s incredibly efficient.
3. Free vs Premium
How much does the plugin cost?
When choosing a WordPress translation plugin, cost is certainly going to be a factor. It’s important to consider your budget — how much are you willing to pay? Do you want a free solution for your small business or blog, or are you happy to pay a monthly fee for high quality translations?
There are many free WordPress translation plugins available to download from the WordPress.org plugin repository. These options, being free and all, are generally pretty basic and provide machine translations. Many plugins use Google Translate’s automatic translation service.
Machine translations are faster and cheaper, but if you run a large website and providing high-quality translated content to your audience is essential, it’s a good idea to focus on premium WordPress translation plugins.
Many free WordPress translation plugin offer premium or pro versions, which you can access for a monthly or yearly fee. Pricing starts at around USD$5-$9 per month, with higher quality translation plugins charging more.
Weglot, for example, starts at €9.90 per month, with pricing based on the number of words on your site that need translating, and the number of translated languages you need.
Do You Need Access to Professional Translations?
It’s also important to factor in the cost of human translations. While you may use machine translations as the basis for your site’s translated content, you may want to have some of your more important translations, such as the top-level pages of your site, reviewed by an experienced and accredited human translator.
While working with a human translator or professional translation service might seem like an unnecessary cost, the return on investment will more than make up for any initial costs if quality content is a primary concern for your business.
4. Content That Needs Translating
What kinds of content do you need translated?
It’s important to consider the types of content you have on your site and what you need translated. Do you need your entire website translated or just parts of it? Do you have a large site with hundreds of pages of content, or a small website with only a handful of pages?
For example, your website might contain the following kinds of content:
- Web pages
- Blog posts
- Landing pages
- WooCommerce (product descriptions, cart, checkout)
- Membership area
- Downloadable files, such as PDFs
For each piece of content, you’ll need to decide how you want it translated — machine or human translation?
Examples of when to use machine translation:
- When you have content you need translated and the general meaning is enough.
- When you’re translating documents for internal use within your business and 100% accuracy isn’t required.
- When you want to partially translate content for a human translator to improve upon.
Examples of when to use human translation:
- When the accuracy of your content is critical.
- When translating the most important pages of your site, including your homepage and top-level pages.
- When you have a duty of care to provide accurate translations, e.g. legal documents, product/service instructions, medical guidelines.
- When translating marketing materials or other content that uses creative writing.
5. Quality and Clarity
How important is the quality and clarity of your translated content for your business?
When it comes to choosing a WordPress translation plugin, quality and clarity are vital two factors that sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.
For some businesses where the quality of translated content isn’t a deal breaker, machine translations will do. This might include portfolio websites, personal websites, and small eCommerce businesses that sell only a few products.
For larger sites, however, or businesses involving certain professional services, only human translations should be considered. For instance, does your business sell products or services where there’s no room for confusion and clear precise wording is non-negotiable? This might include businesses that deal with medicine, law, or finance.
For enterprise-level businesses expanding internationally into new markets, building reputation and trust are key. As such, the quality of your translations will reflect on the quality of your business, so having a human translator review your content is essential.
Another thing to consider with any kind of translation is the cost of potential mistakes. Translating sensitive content for legal documents, medical equipment, instruction manuals, and eCommerce product descriptions for items involving large amounts of money require 100% accuracy. In these kinds of case, mistakes can be costly and learn to embarrassingly and irreparable damage to your company’s image.
So when choosing a WordPress translation plugin, make sure that it provides access to professional translators and/or translation services. Not only will this make it easy to have your content professionally reviewed, but it will make it easier to manage your translations.
6. Ease of Use
How intuitive is the plugin to use?
You’ll want to choose a WordPress translation plugin that not only comes with all the features you need, but is easy to use. Everyone on your team that uses your website should be comfortable using the solution you choose.
No one wants to have to deal with code or translation packages when translating your site, so find a plugin that is going to make the process a breeze.
Ease-of-use extends beyond the initial installation process. Here are several things to consider?
- The installation process. Is the plugin easy to set up? How long does it take to set up? Do you need the help of a developer or is the plugin simple enough for anyone with a basic knowledge of WordPress to set up?
- Website integration. Does the plugin seamlessly integrate with your WordPress site? Does it integrate and automatically translate your plugins and themes?
- The user interface. What kind of interface does the plugin have? Is it intuitive to use? Or is it confusing to navigate?
- Setting languages. What is the process for setting a new language? Can you “set and forget” or is there extra work involved in switching languages?
- Editing and reviewing translations. What does editing translations involve? Is there any interface for editing translations, or do you have to manually upload files? Can you edit and review translations on the front-end?
- Updating SEO meta titles and descriptions. What does editing SEO related text involve? Is there an interface for SEO content? Does the plugin event support SEO?
- Support. Does the plugin come with premium support? Is there documentation available?
If you’re part of a large team, you’ll want to choose a WordPress translation plugin that provides team collaboration features. Some solutions, such as Weglot, allow you to invite team members and trusted translators for easy collaborations directly within the Weglot interface.
7. Design and Customization
How does the plugin affect the design of your site? Does the plugin let you customize how your language switcher looks on the front-end of your site?
Offering website content in more than one language can add many new layers of complexity to web design. Translating text is one thing, but how you accommodate that in terms of the design of your site is another important consideration.
You’ll want to choose a WordPress translation plugin that integrates seamlessly with your site and automatically translates your web pages. It’s also crucial that whatever solution you go with integrates with your plugins and themes too.
If you’ll be giving visitors to your site the option to choose their preferred language, check that the plugin provides options for customizing the design of your front-end language switcher. If you want access to advanced customization, you’ll want a solution that allows you to control the look and feel of your switcher with additional CSS rules.
Does the plugin enable you to translate meta titles and descriptions?
Translated content on your WordPress site, together with translated meta titles, and meta descriptions, enable you to target a broader range of keywords. This boosts your chance of being ranked in SERPs for Google, as well as other search engines more popular in other countries, such as Baidu in China and Yandex in Russia.
Check that the WordPress translation plugin you’re thinking about using follows Google SEO best practices and offers the ability to translate and update metadata.
It’s also worth checking that the plugin you ultimately choose lets you easily add hreflang variables to your pages. Doing so ensures the most appropriate versions of your pages by language will appear in search results, depending on the user’s language or region.
9. Updates and Support
Does the plugin come with access to support and updates?
Setting up translations for the first time might seem like a minefield, so it’s important to consider whether you might need access to set-up guides, documentation and/or premium support.
Free plugins that you can download from WordPress.org generally don’t provide support, but you can try your luck in the WordPress Support Forums.
For premium WordPress translation plugins, check what methods of support they offer — is there documentation? A getting started guide? Can you email or call for premium support?
WordPress translation plugins that are regularly updated ensure you have access to the latest available translations, but also safeguards you against potential security vulnerabilities.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to contact the support team of any plugins you’re interested in and ask lots of questions. Before settling on a WordPress translation plugin, it’s important that any questions or niggling concerns you have are fully satisfied. Reaching out to support will also give you an indication of the quality of the help you can expect.
Which WordPress Translation Plugin is Best for Your Business?
There are many free and premium WordPress translation plugins available for WordPress, but for this guide, we’ll take a look at Weglot. Weglot is widely considered the best WordPress translation plugin due to its features, machine and human translations, and ease-of-use.
With Weglot, you don’t need to be tech-savvy or a developer to set up translations. A wizard walks you through setting up the plugin, and in less than 5 minutes you can have another language ready to use on your site.
Weglot supports more than 100 languages and integrates seamlessly with any WordPress site, plugin, and themes. It automatically detects and translates your written content.
What’s more, you can manually edit your translations on the front-end of your site using Weglot’s easy-to-use visual editor. If you need help with translating certain languages, you can order professional translations from within the Weglot dashboard.
But what really sets Weglot apart from other WordPress translation plugins is its flexibility. This plugin is ideal for small businesses and sites with minimal translation needs. With Weglot’s Free plan, you can translate up to 2,000 words and get a feel for how to use the plugin.
For much larger sites that have intensive translation needs, Weglot’s premium plans can provide unlimited translated languages and words — ideal for enterprises that need content translated into multiple languages for different markets.
Let’s look at how to set it up — all in under 5 minutes.
Getting Started with Weglot
Weglot is simple to set up — simply install and activate the Weglot plugin on your WordPress site. You’ll then be prompted to set up an account (if you don’t have one already), and enter your API key.
After completing setup, you should now see a translation button in the bottom-right of your pages.
Easy to Use Translations
Weglot’s intuitive interface makes it easy to get started with translating your site. From your account page, you can quickly see key information for your account, including your current plan, current word usage, percentage of human translations and number of languages used.
The navigation menu to the left gives you access to all the resources you need to translate your site, including your translations list and access to the visual editor.
When you first set up Weglot, your content will be automatically translations using some of the best machine learning providers in the world, including Microsoft, DeepL, Google and Yandex, depending on the languages you are using.
To access human translations, click on Professional Translations in the menu to order your translations. Our Professional Translations are High Quality, Flexible and Affordable and also offer Fast and Easy Integration.
Customizable Language Switcher
From your WordPress admin, you can configure the look and feel of your front-end language switcher. By default, the switcher will display the language codes for each of the languages you’re using.
You can choose to display a drop-down menu or use buttons, display different flag designs, display names and flags, or just names. You can also enter CSS for advancing styling.
By default, the language switcher button will be displayed in the bottom-right of your web pages. But you can choose to insert it in a menu, as a widget, with a shortcode, and/or in your site’s source code.
Case Study: How La machine Cycle Club is Using Weglot
Passionate about cycling, Rens and Sander had been thinking about creating a clothing brand around their favorite hobby for a long time, and they founded La Machine Cycle Club in 2013, a clothing brand driven by their “love for the Velo, racing and good looks”.
Given that cycling has enthusiasts across the world, it was only natural for Rens and Sander to create an international brand, both in its messaging and its availability. The need to expand internationally was quickly confirmed as La Machine Cycle Club received orders from all around the world, taking off almost as soon as the brand was launched. That’s why it was essential to have a site in multiple languages. Rens and Sander started looking for a WordPress translation plugin for their eCommerce site.
After experimenting with another WordPress translation plugin, Rens, co-founder of La Machine Cycle club found it too clunky, and it negatively affected the speed of their website. “We were also below our objectives in terms of site speed”. The conversion rate of a website can be heavily affected by its speed, so this was something that needed to be addressed as a priority.
They then discovered Weglot, which immediately met their requirements in terms of performance and reliability. “Weglot offers easy installation and its server-side integration allows our site to remain fast and reliable”.
Thanks to Weglot, La Machine Cycle Club was able to offer its website in English, German and Dutch to support its international growth. “Our percentage of sales from outside the Netherlands has quickly grown to 50%.” The conversion rate has also grown by 25%.
Weglot: A Translation Solution That Takes Minutes to Set Up
When the team found Weglot, the decision to go ahead and use it was a quick one. Integrating Weglot with the eCommerce site took minutes, and the content for all 150+ products was automatically detected and translated. All the team had to do was review the translations, and everything was ready in less than 15 days — with no need to call in a developer to update the site.
The Ron Dorff site can now be accessed in English, French and German.
“Weglot interface is really friendly and easy to use. You can find all your content in a few clicks and then translate it quickly and efficiently,” says Jamila Halloum, Digital Marketing Director at Ron Dorff.
Thanks to Weglot, Ron Dorff experienced a 400% increase in site visitors in 2018. And now, the team can focus on writing and translating content without worrying about time-wasting technical headaches.
Take Advantage of Weglot’s Team Collaboration Features
To provide your site visitors and customers with an outstanding experience in their native language, you’ll want to go above and beyond simple word-for-word translations on your site. Get members of your team involved, whether it’s simply by suggesting updates to certain translations on your site, or providing customer support in languages other than English.
Bilingual and multilingual members of your team who are familiar with your product or service and understand its context will be able to provide native-level translations that are more natural sounding. Weglot allows you to invite team members to your account so you can easily collaborate on translations together, directly within the Weglot interface.
For more complex translations, including marketing materials and landing pages, it’s best to work with a professional translator. If you already work with professional translators or plan on engaging one in future, you can add them to your account, too (or alternatively, order translators through the Weglot interface).
Inviting other people to collaborate on your translations will not only help take your translations to the next level, but will encourage cultural understanding and camaraderie amongst your team members.
Choosing the Best WordPress Translation Plugin for Your Business
Adding a WordPress translation plugin to your site has many benefits (as we’ve previously explored) and, fortunately, it’s difficult setting one up on your site.
There are many free translation plugins available in the WordPress.org plugin repository that offer basic machine translations powered by Google Translate. But, if you want a feature-rich plugin that’s easy to set up (most plugins aren’t) and provides high quality translations for any type of business (most plugins don’t), then Weglot is the best choice.
With Weglot, you can translate your site in as little as 5 minutes and scale your business, reach new markets, and achieve the high ROI that comes with investing in a quality WordPress translation plugin. Start your free trial now!