A Simple Guide to Creating a Multilingual WordPress Website

How to Create a Multilingual WordPress Site

Looking to create a multilingual WordPress website for your business or service? You’re not alone.

With the world rapidly shifting to a digital-first economy owing to globalization and eCommerce, more businesses are seeking ways to improve their digital storefronts to drive more traffic and increase conversions. Websites are now the first point of contact for modern consumers and the key to maximizing customer lifetime value and other essential performance metrics.

While user-friendly designs, targeted advertising, and search engine optimization are critical in enhancing customer experience, they’re not the only factors that should be at the forefront of your priorities. In the modern age, website localization or translation is just as important.

Therefore, you should learn how to create a multilingual WordPress site to ensure your content is available in your visitors’ and customers’ preferred languages.

So, without further ado, let’s learn about the key benefits of a multilingual site and the steps to create one.

What Is a Multilingual WordPress Website?

A multilingual WordPress website offers content in multiple languages, such as English, French, Arabic, Spanish, etc. These sites enable visitors to choose their preferred language to simplify navigation and improve their understanding of the available content.

WordPress allows developers to translate their site’s text, images, and other elements using different methods and solutions, including (but not limited to):


You can find various translation plugins for WordPress that provide user-friendly interfaces for creating multilingual sites. The most common options developers use include WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML), TranslatePress, Polylang, Lokalize, and Weglot, to name a few.

WordPress API Integration

WordPress allows users to integrate third-party translation APIs that automatically translate content in real-time. Popular examples include Google Translate API, DeepL API, and IBM Watson Translator API.

Custom Development

Many developers opt for customized multilingual development and create tailor-made code for language translations and switching. This approach is more complicated and requires better WordPress development expertise. However, it can offer more flexibility and better performance than translation APIs and plugins.

Key Benefits of a Multilingual WordPress Site

Below are some of the key benefits of turning a WordPress website into a multilingual one:

Better Reach

With a multilingual WordPress site, you can extend your reach globally. According to a CSA survey, 65% of consumers are likely to convert when exploring site content in their native language. Secondly, around 41% of active websites are not in English. So, you’re likely missing out by not translating your site.

International Search Engine Optimization

Website translation is a smart way to boost SEO. Localized sites will likely rank highly on local search engine result pages (SERPs), potentially impacting traffic and sales. Creating a multilingual WordPress site and optimizing it internationally allows you to translate everything, from metadata to URLs and Hreflang tags. You can also enable geo-targeting with country-specific domain extensions.

Improved Brand Image

Translating your website into multiple languages can improve your brand image by proving you’re a global business. Hence, potential buyers or users will be more open to your value offerings. 

How to Create a Multilingual WordPress Site – A Step-by-Step Guide

Most users create multilingual WordPress using plugins. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to achieving multilingual functionality for your site:

Set Up Your WordPress Site in English or Preferred Default Language

Before creating a multilingual site, you must create a single-language WordPress website. Once you’ve created its design and populated pages with content, you can proceed to translation.

Install Your Preferred Plugin

As mentioned earlier, WordPress offers various translation plugins to enable multilingual functionality. From your WordPress dashboard, choose, install, and activate your preferred plugin, whether it’s TranslatePress or WPML. Most of these plugins offer premium versions with extra features and functionality.

Set Up Secondary Language(s)

Following activation, access the plugin’s settings and set up your secondary language(s). Free versions typically allow users to add one language. With pro versions, you can add as many languages as you like. Ensure you set your site’s default language and save the changes you make from the bottom.

Set Up Automatic Translation (Optional)

WordPress also allows you to set up automatic translation on-demand, a smart option for larger sites with lots of content. From the plugin’s settings, click or tap on Automatic Translation and choose your preferred translation API, such as DeepL or Google Translate. Next, get your API key from your desired provider and use the plugin’s API documentation for seamless integration.

Following the setup, you should see a language selector on your WordPress site that will automatically switch the page’s language as per your choice.

Translate Content Manually

If you don’t opt for automatic translation, you can translate your pages, posts, widgets, and other elements using the Translate Page button from the WordPress admin bar. However, you’ll have to do this manually and proofread the changes when done.

Fortunately, WordPress offers a seamless interface that allows you to hover over and select any content you wish to translate. Most developers opt for this option to:

  • Improve translation accuracy or quality
  • Enable contextual understanding
  • Eliminate grammar or syntax errors
  • Improve SEO, etc.

Customize the Language Switcher

As a website owner, you want to ensure users can easily switch languages. Most translation plugins allow users to change language switcher settings and add two or three language choices in a widget, footer, or close to the navigation menu. You can also add country flags for enhanced localization.

Configure SEO Settings

Some language plugins don’t affect on-site SEO. Therefore, you should opt for SEO-friendly plugins to avoid manual changes, such as:

  • Setting up Hreflang tags
  • Optimizing meta titles and descriptions in multiple languages
  • Changing URL structures (subdomains or directories)
  • Translating media and image texts, etc.

Testing and Debug

Before going live, test your new multilingual site to address any issues, such as proactively bugs, broken links, or malfunctioning pages. Once done, generate XML sitemaps for every version of your multilingual site before submitting them to Google and other search engines for indexing.

Creating a Multilingual WordPress Website – Bottom Line

With the global commercial landscape rapidly adopting cross-border e-commerce, businesses must tweak their online presence to keep pace with new trends and developments. A multilingual WordPress website can take your business to the next level by improving SEO, increasing conversions, and fostering brand loyalty.

So, what are you waiting for? Whether you opt for plugins or custom development, translate your site to multiple languages and maximize reach. For more insights about WordPress features and developments, visit Zabhost, a leading WordPress hosting service.

About the author

Alex Thompson

Meet Alex, a highly skilled backend developer with a decade of experience under his belt. Possessing a strong affinity for crafting robust and scalable software solutions, Alex has become an invaluable asset to the tech teams he's been a part of.

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