Beginner's Guide for WordPress - Start your WordPress Blog in minutes.
Choosing the Best
WordPress Hosting
How to Easily
Install WordPress
Recommended
WordPress Plugins
View all Guides

How to Easily Create a Multilingual WordPress Site

Last updated on by
Special WordPress Hosting offer for WPBeginner Readers
How to Easily Create a Multilingual WordPress Site

Do you want to translate your WordPress site in multiple languages? Wondering where to start? In this article, we will show you how to easily create a multilingual WordPress site.

No you do not need to setup a multi-site or have separate WordPress installs for each language. You will be able to easily translate your WordPress posts, pages, tags, categories, and themes into as many languages as you like.

Creating multilingual websites

We will look at both common approaches adopted by WordPress multilingual site owners.

The first approach allows you to manually translate all the content into languages of your choice.

The second method does not actually create a multilingual site, but instead it adds machine translations of your existing content by using the Google Translate service.

It goes without saying that manually translating your content is a much better approach. This allows you to maintain quality throughout your website. You can translate the content yourself or hire professionals to do that.

If you do not have the resources, and you still want users to be able to see content in other languages, then you can go for Google Translate. This will add a multi-language switcher for users to select a language, and the content will be translated using Google Translate. The downside of this approach is that the quality of translations will not be as good.

Let’s start by looking into building a multilingual WordPress site with manual translations.

Video Tutorial

If you don’t like the video or need more instructions, then continue reading.

Creating a Multilingual WordPress Site (Human Translation)

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Polylang plugin. Upon activation, you need to visit Settings » Languages to configure the plugin.

Polylang settings page

The language settings page is divided into three tabs. The first tab is labeled ‘Languages’. This is where you add the languages you want to use on your site.

You will need to add the default language, as well as select all other languages that users can choose on your site.

After adding the languages, switch to the ‘Strings Translations’ tab. Here you need to translate site title, description, and then choose the date and time format.

Translating strings

Last step in the configuration is the Settings tab. This is where you can choose a default language for your site and other technical settings.

Setting up a URL structure

For most beginners, we recommend not changing the URL, so select the first option. Why? Because if you ever turn off this plugin, then all those links will be broken.

For those who are looking to take full advantage of multi language SEO, then we recommend that you choose the second option for pretty permalinks as shown in the screenshot above.

You should select the option for detecting browser’s preferred language, and automatically show them the content in their preferred language. By doing this, the user will see the content in their preferred language and can switch the language if needed.

Once you are done, click on the save changes button to store your settings.

Adding Multilingual Content in WordPress

Polylang makes it super easy to add content in different languages. Simply create a new post/page or edit an existing one. On the post edit screen, you will notice the languages meta box.

Adding Multi-Lingual Content in WordPress using Polylang plugin

Your default language will automatically be selected, so you can first add content in your default language, and then translate it into others.

To translate, you need to click on the + button next to a language and then add content for that language.

A multi-lingual blog post in WordPress created with Polylang

Repeat the process for all languages. Once you are done, you can publish your posts and pages.

It’s important to note that Polylang works with custom post types, so it can definitely help you make your woocommerce store multilingual.

Translating Categories, Tags, and Custom Taxonomies

You can also translate categories and tags, or any custom taxonomies you may be using.

If you want to translate categories, then go to Posts » Categories.

Translating categories

Add a category in your default language and then click on the plus icon for each language to start adding translations.

Displaying Multi Language Switcher on Your WordPress Site

Adding a language switcher allows users to select a language when viewing your site. Polylang makes it super simple. Just go to Appearance » Widgets and add the language switcher widget to your sidebar or another widget-ready area.

Language switcher

You can choose a drop down, or use language names with flags. Once you are done, click the save button to store your widget settings.

You can now preview your site to see the language switcher in action.

Language switcher on a live WordPress site

Using Google Translate to Create a Multilingual Site in WordPress

While adding human translations definitely creates a better user experience, you may not have the resources or time to do that. In that case, you can try using Google Translate to automatically translate content on your site.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Google Language Translator plugin. Upon activation, visit Settings » Google Language Translator to configure the plugin.

Google Language Translator plugin

The plugin allows you to select the languages available with Google Translate. You can even remove Google’s branding from translation. This is a highly customizable plugin, so you need to go through the settings and configure it to your liking.

For more details check out our tutorial on how to add Google Translate in WordPress with video and text instructions on how to set up the plugin.

That’s all, we hope this article helped you learn how to create a multilingual site in WordPress. You should also look at our article on how to install WordPress in your language.

If you are looking for a multilingual WordPress theme also referred to translation-ready themes, check out our guide on how to find translation ready WordPress themes that also has an easy way to translate existing WordPress themes.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Google+.


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

WPBeginner's Video Icon
Our HD-Quality tutorial videos for WordPress Beginners will teach you how to use WordPress to create and manage your own website in about an hour. Get started now »

Comments

  1. Harsha says:

    Doesn’t it have south Indian languages Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam? If not, is there any other plugin having those languages?

  2. Agnieszka says:

    I have istalled the plugin for the multilanguages and now my website is off….please help. What can I do to have my website live again.

  3. hector says:

    @wpbeginner, does google punish websites that does not use manual translation?

  4. Ruslan says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the information.
    I am new and have little knowledge on WordPress. I would like to have my WordPress website in 3 different languages. Can you please let me know if the plugin allow the visitors view the pages of my website in other languages as it is done in this website:

    1. When browsing in one particular page if you click to the language icon you will be taken to the same page but in different language (not to the home page). I would like to have similar.
    .
    2. It would be if it would be possible to edit the links (to have links in German for German version of the page) like here

    Could you please advise if it would be possible with the plugin to do the same as it is done in the reference website ?
    Many thanks for your patience
    Ruslan

  5. Niko says:

    Hello,

    amazing article :)
    but if I can.. there may be another solution for having a multi-lingual website easily.. with human-powered translations and of course FREE

  6. Ishtiak says:

    Thank you for this tutorial!
    I never thought there is an option for enabling multi language in a same WordPress blog!
    I am running a small blog for about 2 months. If I install and activate this plugin, will this hurt my blog SEO?
    Thanks again!

  7. mehnaz says:

    Dear,

    my site is in English language , but I want to add Bangla language. When I add Bangla the website looks new. The site is no more if i set language in Bangla. and the English lanuage is already exists. But when I add English, it looks again empty. How I would do make all English existence blog onto this form. Please help. I am waiting to get your answer

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      First you need to set a default language. Then make sure all content in that language is filed under proper language.

    • Ishtiak says:

      I have also tested this plugin for Bangla language. I got the same issue, But I have figured it out too. First add English language, then it’ll be your primary language. Then add Bangla. You need to set all your Menus newly. I got no alternative way for this.
      Thanks.

  8. Dorit says:

    At last an easy solution for what I have been looking for and well explained. Thank you!

  9. Jess says:

    This is just perfect, so happy to have found this post! Thanks a ton!!!

  10. Mahmoud fared says:

    Hello everyone

    I am creating a holidays website and I wish to know how to add the countries and cites to the website to let the customers choose the place they would like to go to.
    Can you please tell me how ? I been looking for nearly 1 week but I couldn’t find it .
    Thank you

  11. Ben Pines says:

    Amazing video – you managed to condense this rather complicated subject to a 2:30 video. Nice.

    I think people aren’t aware that there is a huge difference between the plugin solution and the Multisite.

    I have written a rather long post about which solution is recommended, and for which type of site:

  12. Joe says:

    Fantastic! With a minimum of fuss, I got the site up, running and looking good! Thanks! Slight changes due to the new version, but nothing hard to figure out.

  13. Ron says:

    I have an “orphan” theme I bought from Shotzz by WPTitan that was abandoned a few years ago. So suggesting we contact the theme support doesn’t work for those of us with orphans. I tried “converting” to a newer theme but its a no go. I am stuck or i have to completely redo my site in order to get my site bilingual. thanks

  14. Jameela Tey says:

    Careful with the WPML plugin!!
    I have been using the WPML plugin for some time… what was to follow was a nightmare… we ran the plugin for a 2nd language for quite some time… and then figured that the plugin was quite a resource hog – as measured by: P3 (Plugin Performace Profiler). We saw that 70% of the resources consumed on our website were by this Plugin. And that by removing WPML we could speed up response time of our website by up to 50%.

    So we decided to uninstall the plugin and run the 2nd language manually. What was to follow was and still is an ongoing nightmare.

    WPML the plugin from hell, will modify the database irreversibly. So that after uninstalling the plugin the database is compromised.

    The result is that permalinks on the website are wrong. We had countless conversations with WPML support and they could not provide a solution. So we have now programmer working on this manually changing links in the site… back to what they are supposed to be.

    All hell broke loose when we upgraded from WP version 4.3 to 4.4 – that is when the links in the site got screwed up.

    And we have to pay dearly for this reparation of the site. Our programmer is still working on getting rid of the damage that WPML did to our website.

    So be very careful betting your site on the WPML plugin. For us it turned out to be a huge mistake.
    And we had to learn that their support sucks greatly.

  15. Kaspar says:

    Excellent, just what I needed.
    Cheers.

  16. Kelvin says:

    My website go down after I added the new language (english-US) to the list.
    The error display :
    “Server error

    500”

    Then I can not access my admin page also with the same error.
    Would you please advise what to do ?
    Thanks.

  17. fox says:

    for my taste it gets cluttered to fast since polylang creates a new post for each translation ….

  18. Terry says:

    This was exactly what I needed to know to help a client who is a Japanese consultant. Thanks so much. Hopefully when I actually try it, it will be as easy as it appears in your video.

  19. Jeannette says:

    How can I use different footers for the two different languages on my site?
    Thanks in advance.

  20. Katja K. says:

    Thanks a lot for this tutorial. I just tried it out though and have one question:
    Once I install Polylang, my theme settings change automatically (Jupiter Theme) and I can´t see my logo and my menu anymore. I see the standard Jupiter header and the link “add menu” on the upper right corner. Have you also experienced such thing and how can I fix it?

    Thanks a lot in advance.

  21. Prabhu says:

    This plugin Google Language Translator is having issues, is there any different plugin good as this one to use because this breaks the site. :( Kindly advise if anyone know, thank you.

  22. Aly Elgarhy says:

    when i activate this plugin and apply this setting like tutorial all my post and pages disappear and when i deactivate it all back again

    • Maurizio says:

      Hello, the same thing happens to me. Do you know how to fix it?
      cheers
      marurizio

    • Craig says:

      Same happen to me using vitue theme and woocommerce

    • daslicht says:

      have you tried to set the default language

      • Lost Menus, No default says:

        I saw no default language setting in the plugin, only in wp “settings”, “general” but not in the “languages” section. So the tutorial is incorrect or the newer perhaps version of the plugin is faulty. I had to deactivate and gracias a dios my site was okay.

  23. Natalie Kani says:

    Amazing article and the video – thank you very much!

    Just one question, what do you think would be the best option to make a multilingual site (keeping English as the main backend language), which does not require translations – the content would differ depending on the language?

    thank you a lot again, very valuable site!

  24. Melody Tabatabaian says:

    Thank you for your very helpful website and clear instructions. Your tips helped me translate a website from top to bottom. Thank you again!

    Sincerely,
    Melody

  25. Carolien says:

    Hi there, thanks for your very helpful tutorial. Would you happen to have any experience with this plugin combined with the OneEngine theme. The minute I install the Polylang plugin my menu disappears, which is quite essentials to have. Any tip or tricks to avoid this?
    Many thanks.

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Please contact your Theme’s support team and let them know about the conflict. You may also contact Polylang plugin support.

  26. Milica Z. says:

    Thank you for all tutorials you guys do and especially this one. Two questions tough: 1. Is there a way to move flags in the header menu in the upper right corner? 2. How to deal with new post subscriptions for multilingual blog, without sending ‘duplicate’ emails, for both languages to subscribers?

  27. Milena says:

    Hi, how can i put flags to be side by side? Right now one is up and the other is below it?
    Thank you, Milena

  28. petitesoeur defoulee says:

    Does it work only for wordpress.org ? I’m trying to install it but my blog is supported by wordpress.com

    Thanks in advance

  29. Maikel Markx says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the helpful tutorial. So I get how to translate different pages and posts, but how do I translate a theme that is being edited via appearance -> customize? Thanks a lot.

    Maikel

  30. Olga says:

    You’ve got an amazing site! So much useful advice, I’ve already used many of these, I don’t even remember how many, but you’re becoming my goto site :) The htaccess, the my own plugin (I never thought I could do this, and this got to be so simple!), and endless other things. I do not comment a lot, but reading this post now, with exactly what I needed explained so much in details, I just had to tell you: THANK YOU!!! Very much! For all you do! It is amazing how you go into all these details, with such quality. Thank you very much!

  31. Piet says:

    Although I realise that this site basically is aimed at beginners, I find it kinda strange to actually include Google Translate in this article.

    Yes, you can use it to quickly translate a word or a short sentence perhaps, but a site?

    For many languages the “translations” that Google Translate offers are horrendous at best.

    That the translations for Dutch are far from great perhaps is understandable as it not only is a very difficult language, it’s also only spoken by a handful of people.

    But the two languages that are even (far) more popular than English, namely español (Spanish) and 中文 (Chinese) have incredible poor translations to and from English.

    I think especially to WordPress Beginners it is your responsibility to teach them the value of reliable content on their sites and that naturally includes translations.

    Also a good tip for people looking to offer their site’s content in different languages is that they should keep in mind that site visitors also expect to be able to fill in contact forms in those languages and expect to receive replies in their native tongue!

    • WPBeginner Staff says:

      Piet we share and agree with your concerns. This is why we described in great details on how users can translate their own site using polylang.

      We have also described that using Google translations the quality of translations will not be good.

      However, we felt some users may just want to save visitors a visit to Google translate by offering it on their own site. Not all users can afford to get their site content translated into multiple languages.

  32. Giorgos Pishilis says:

    Thank you. It took me five minutes to read and do everything.. But it will take me a month to translate the whole page. Cheers this was extremely helpful!

  33. WPBeginner Staff says:

    Thanks for the suggestion, we will try to do a comparison very soon.

  34. Eduardo WB says:

    Thank you! I will test the Polylang plugin. I have been using older ones that have some issues in the new WordPress projects, so this post is very nice.

  35. Mav35 says:

    Hi, would be great to have an article to compare this plugin to WPML or MultilingualPress. Multilingual website management can be more complicated than just translate post, pages and taxonomies and I’ve never found a good article on the Web about WordPress multilingual alternatives.

    • Tammi L. Coles says:

      Just to second Mav35’s request for a “wordpress multilingual plugins compared” post! I have been using WPML for years and really like that it is backed by support. But it is EXTREMELY complex, so not something that I recommend to folks without the stomach for it. But maybe that’s just me? A more in-depth feature comparison might just change my mind!

      Thanks for all you do!

    • Ed Dogan says:

      Just to third :) Mav35’s request. I was about to get WPML and pay them but I used polylang instead. The interfaces look simlar and not sure what I’m missing by not using WPML.

Add a Comment

We're glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our comment policy, and all links are nofollow. Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.