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How to Create a Multilingual WordPress Site with WPML

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Do you want to create a multilingual WordPress site with WPML?

WordPress can be used to create a website in any language. However, it does not support multilingual websites out of the box.

In this article, we’ll show you how to easily create a multilingual WordPress site with WPML.

Creating a multilingual WordPress website with WPML

Why Create a Multilingual WordPress Site Using WPML?

You can use WordPress in any language that you want. It is super easy to create a WordPress website in any single language.

Most popular WordPress themes and plugins are also translation ready which makes it easy for anyone in the world to start a WordPress site in their language.

However, by default WordPress can support only one language at a time. What if you wanted to use multiple languages on a site to attract a much wider audience?

Governments, international businesses, online stores, and educational institutes often need to offer their website in multiple languages. While machine translations like Google Translate are an option, it’s often not acceptable for most professional organizations.

One way to offer multiple language options is to install WordPress in subdomains for each language. This is a lot of hassle, as you will have to manage updates, and backup all those installations.

WPML (WordPress Multilingual Plugin) solves this problem by allowing your website to become multilingual. You can use the same WordPress installation to create content in many different languages.

It offers an easy-to-use interface for managing translations. It also adds language switching options for your users.

Having said that, let’s see how you can create a multilingual WordPress website with WPML in minutes.

Creating a Multilingual WordPress Site with WPML

The first thing you need to do is install and activate the WPML (WordPress Multi-language) plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

WPML website

Note: WPML is a paid plugin, but it’s by far the most comprehensive option. There is a reason why over a million websites use WPML for creating a multilingual WordPress site.

Upon activation, the plugin will add a new menu item labeled ‘WPML’ in your WordPress menu. Clicking on it for the first time will take you to the plugin’s settings wizard.

WPML setup wizard

WPML will automatically detect your WordPress site’s language. You can change it here now if you want.

Below that, you need to select other languages that you want to use on your website. You can always add more languages later if needed.

After that, click on the Continue button for the next step.

You’ll now be asked to choose the URL format for different languages.

Choose URL format

You can choose directory structure, set up separate domains or subdomains for each language, or add language as a parameter.

The first option, directory structure, is more SEO-friendly and recommended for most websites.

You can also opt for subdomains or separate domains but Google may consider those as separate websites. If this is your intended purpose, then you can choose this option.

After choosing the URL format, click on the Continue button.

The plugin will now ask you to enter the Site Key. You can get this key under your account on the WPML website.

Add site key

On the next screen, you’ll be asked to choose how you would like to manage translations on your website.

You can choose to translate everything on your website or translate some content. We recommend using ‘Some content’ as this gives you more control over translations.

Maanage translations

The next option is to choose who will translate your website. You can choose to add translations by yourself, add individual translators or a translation manager, or choose a professional translation service.

You can always change how you manage translations on your website.

On the next screen, you can give permission to share plugins and theme information to get faster support.

After that, WPML will ask your permission to install other helpful plugins. You can click on the Skip link for now and install those plugins later if needed.

Skip plugins

That’s all! You have successfully set up WPML to create and manage your multilingual website.

Next you’ll need to add the actual translated content to your website.

Adding Multilingual Content into WordPress with WPML

WPML makes it really easy to translate every area of your WordPress blog into multiple languages.

You will be able to easily translate your WordPress posts, pages, tags, categories, and themes into as many languages as you like.

Adding Multilingual Posts and Pages

Simply click on the posts menu to view your existing posts.

You will notice the languages columns next to your post titles.

Adding content in multiple languages in WordPress

WPML assumes that your existing content is in your site’s primary language. It will show Add buttons for each language next to your posts. Click on the add button under a language to translate a post.

You can also manage translations by editing a post.

On the post edit screen, you will notice the new ‘Language’ meta box to manage translations.

Maanage post translations

You can also manage translations by visiting WPML » Translation Management page.

From here you can view your content, assign them to translators, and work on translations.

Translation management

You can also add users as translators regardless of what role they have on your WordPress site.

You can even add subscribers as translators.

Add and manage translators in WordPress

Instead of editing posts, these translators will be able to add translations directly in WordPress.

Adding Translations for Categories and Tags

WPML allows you to easily translate categories and tags, or any other custom taxonomies that you may be using.

Visit WPML » Taxonomy Translation and load the custom taxonomies you want to translate.

For example: in this screenshot we selected categories, and it displayed all categories from our demo site.

Taxonomy translation

Click on the + add button next to the taxonomy term to add the translation.

Translating Navigation Menus

WordPress comes with a robust navigation menu system. WPML allows you to translate it just like you would translate posts or taxonomies.

Visit Appearance » Menus page on your site. If you have more than one menus, then select the menu you want to translate.

In the right hand column, you will see your menu with links to translate into other languages enabled on your site.

Translate navigation menus

Clicking on a language will create a new menu for that language.

You will need to add the same menu items as in your primary language menu.

Translating menus

If you have your posts and pages in navigation menus, then you will first need to translate them. After that you can add them from the tabs on the left in edit menu screens.

Don’t forget to click on the Save Menu button to save your menu.

Translating Themes, Plugins, & Other Text with WPML

WPML multilingual CMS allows you to choose between official translations of themes and plugins or use its own string translator.

Go to WPML » Themes and plugins localization page.

Translate plugins and themes

By default, you will see the option to automatically load theme’s .mo file using load_textdomain. You can check this option to download theme translation files.

This works only with themes downloaded from the theme directory.

We recommend using WPML’s String Translation module to properly translate your theme and plugins for your own site.

translate strings

WPML also allows you to translate custom fields, widgets, and other translatable strings generated by WordPress.

We hope this article helped you learn how to create a WordPress multilingual site with WPML. You may also want to see our list of most useful WordPress plugins to grow your website, and our comparison of the best business phone services.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

23 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

    Hey WPBeginner readers,
    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
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    • WPBeginner Support says

      No, this would be based on the languages you want to support on your site rather than the location of your visitors.


  2. Ajay Kumar says

    does it translates automatically or manually, can you explain how it will translates, some of images showing we have to select the tranlated word and check? please let me know, I am going to buy this, if it manually translates how much it takes.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      WPML is for manual translation but does have the option for automatic/machine translation. If you reach out to WPML they can let you know the specifics :)


  3. Suraj Barai says

    I want to make multiple languages websites. But I can’t understand properly. Can you tell how to make. International website that can any one read in any language.

  4. chetan says

    hey i have a question i have a website i want to show country specific navigation in website i am using wordpress pls help me

  5. ahmed salah says

    that was helpful.
    but what if i my other language is RTL language, how cloud i make style turn to RTL when loading language ?

  6. ahmed salah says

    thank you !
    but what if my other language is RTL language ,
    how could i load RTL style when switching to Arabic language ?

  7. Sanela Tomic says

    Hello, i bought it today and i am disappointed :( i just realise that i need to translate text by myself and put it in a post. If i knew all that languages i would not buy it on first place. Its to late to regret now so can you suggest where to translate content ? Thank you all

  8. Matilda says

    Need for speed! Anyone have advice of how to increase speed while using WPML? Do have a problem….

  9. Henry Barrow says

    I would like to know how many languages could add to my site?. I would like to add many languages to my site as I want to market to different nationalities.
    I would also like your advice on my site. I have paid lots of money to have my site build on fivver but all I got was a bunch of different that did not know what they were doing. The site is already built all I need is a few changes on it, I do not have lots of money as mi collect social security to survive for now.
    Any professional advice would be greatly appreciated.
    P.S I have too many pages on my site that I do not need. should I just delete the ones that I don’t need?
    My site is:
    My best regards.

  10. George Truijen says

    How does WPML manage the SEO? SEO ‘demands’ separate titels and URL’s ans if only the language differs, than SEO finds just perhaps one page.

  11. Henk says

    I’d rather throw myself in front of a train than use WPML for anything. WPML is terrible software that uses techniques that slow down your website significantly. If you have a lot of pages, simply installing WPML can raise your loading time from 1 second do 15 seconds or worse. So, no thanks.

    • Tattvavit das says

      Hi WPBeginner guys, do you have a reply for Henk’s comment? I want to have a multilingual site but if it is going to slow down my site by 15 times, it’s not worth it. What’s your take?

    • Amir Helzer says

      I’m very sorry to hear that your experience with WPML was not good. We take every feedback about WPML seriously and I want to help you with any problems that you had. If there is a support thread on which explains the problems, please add a link to it.

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