Ways to Make Your Website Multilingual
Last week we talked about why you should have a multilingual website: it helps you make your content intelligible to a broader and more dispersed audience, thus increasing the digital footprint of your brand and company, increasing the number of your customers – and, therefore sales -, and also improving your website ranking in Google.
The only ‘but’ is the hard work required to recreate your carefully optimized content for your home market – along with the keywords and phrases designed to engage your target audience – in another language(s), as well as adding code pages to allow users to switch between languages seamlessly.
The good news is that plenty of great multilingual WordPress plugin options are out there, as well as widgets and CMSs that make it easy. These vary between free and paid. Some of these even generate an automatic translation of your page.
To help you navigate the myriad options, we’ve selected three multilingual content generation options that cater to the needs of different projects and their budgets: the cheap and easy option, the deluxe option, and the middle ground option.
As we have established, translating content takes a lot of time and requires a lot of effort. That is why many web admins choose online translation tools, such as Google Translate. This widget is straightforward to install, and once incorporated into your website, your visitors have to click on the widget button, and all content is automatically translated into the user’s preferred language.
The advantage of the widget is that it has 89 languages available, instantly making your website available to 90% of the web. However, the disadvantage is that you are entirely subject to the translation offered by Google – that is, you cannot adapt or improve it. This ends up being a problem since Google Translate is never perfect, and it could harm the image of your company since a bad translation looks unprofessional.
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Google Translate Widget Features:
– Covers a large audience. It can translate between 89 languages, from Afrikaans to Zulu, so it’s ideal if you’re targeting a particular audience with your website.
– You can configure it to include all languages or only some, customize the widget’s appearance, and determine where it is displayed on the page.
– Analytics. You can track traffic to various versions of your content using Google Analytics.
WPML – paid
The widget offers an easy way to give your foreign users a general idea of the content on your website. Still, if you want to impress them and attract new customers, Google Translate is not your option. Furthermore, according to a user, although it works very well to position your website in each language, you need manual – professional translations.
If it’s a professional translation you want with the minimum amount of effort, WPML is for you. This option addresses both the management of multilingual content, as well as the translation process itself. It is easy to install and uses more than 40 languages by default. You can add language variants, such as Canadian French or Mexican Spanish.
WPML is available in different versions: Multilingual Blog at US$29 per year, Multilingual CMS at $79 per year, and Multilingual CMS Lifetime at $195, all included. The ‘blog’ option is geared towards sites with less complex needs. It can manage multilingual posts of all kinds, taxonomies, and menus. It is also capable of detecting the language of the user’s browser. The CMS option includes all these features and the ability to translate custom fields, widgets, and themes. It also offers support for e-commerce and multi-user translation management, among other features:
– Compatible with most WordPress themes and includes support for 40 languages.
– 30-day trial with a money-back guarantee if you cancel the subscription after that period.
– Translation management. The CMS version offers a fully developed platform through which jobs can be assigned to translators monitored and evaluated by editors.
– Professional translation option. WPML gives you access to a network of translation agencies to obtain professional translations of your content. You can manage everything through a simple administration interface.
– Translation of themes and plugins.
– Translation of visitor comments.
– Multilingual e-commerce. WPML allows you to build and run multilingual e-commerce sites with WooCommerce without difficulty. It shows which texts must be translated and builds the complete translated store.
qTranslate X – free
qTranslate X is a free and powerful multilingual WordPress plugin. Unlike the two options above, qTranslate does not provide a translation or offer a way to get a translation from within the plugin. Sino offers a robust multilingual website structure, which makes it very easy for you to manage, order and publish multilingual versions of your pages.
Users can switch between languages via simple tabs to work on content in different languages simultaneously when editing a page. The instant language change is done locally in your browser without sending an additional request to the server.
Other features of qTranslate:
– Ready to use. It includes multiple languages, such as English, German, Simplified Chinese, etc.
– But it is configured to work with an unlimited number of languages.
– One language per URL – Users and SEOs will thank you for not mixing up multilingual content.
– The configuration of the different tabs by language means you can switch between languages with a single click.
– Adapts the date and time according to the standards of the region.
– Custom themes can be configured to be translatable as well.
In this way, you as a webmaster can choose how and who translates your content, giving it the touch you want, while you only manage the text of your page, a task made much easier by the plugin.
The three ways detailed here conform to different webmaster profiles and online projects. For example, if you want to expand your digital footprint or test the terrain, you might go for item #1 on this list. If you have a large website and are willing to invest in translation and project management, WPML will be the best option.
However, for us at Hostname, qTranslate X is our favorite multilingual plugin and the one we use when designing multilingual sites. It is cheap, easy to use and simplifies managing multilingual content. Yes, you have to see the translation separately, but that encourages you to look for a quality translation that will complement the profile of your website. This point is critical since a good translation will not only improve your image in the eyes of the client but it is also much better for your SEO and web positioning.
Whichever you choose, the beauty of a multilingual plugin is that they are inexpensive, easy to install, manage, and uninstall. When you’re just starting in the world of multilingual websites, it’s best to start small, with just one additional language, and see how it goes. Good luck!