The Complete Guide to Choosing the Best WordPress Translation Plugin

Do you want to expand your business globally? Are language barriers preventing your WordPress site from reaching wider international audiences?

Implementing translation capabilities is a must for any company with global ambitions in today‘s interconnected world.

But choosing the right plugin to make your WordPress site multilingual can be overwhelming with so many options available.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore:

  • The powerful benefits of translating your WordPress site
  • Key factors to consider when selecting a translation plugin
  • An in-depth comparison of the top translation plugins on the market
  • Tips from experts on optimizing multilingual websites
  • How to implement and manage translations effectively

By the end, you’ll have all the knowledge needed to confidently choose a translation plugin tailored your business needs and goals.

Let‘s dive in!

Why You Should Translate Your WordPress Site

Here are three compelling reasons to add translation capabilities to your WordPress site:

Reach a Wider Global Audience

English may be the default language of the internet, but less than 30% of internet users worldwide speak English natively.

In fact, native Chinese speakers alone account for close to 20% of total internet users:

Chart showing 23.7% of internet users are native Chinese speakers

Source: Statista

Translate your site to reach audiences you’re currently missing out on. Offering content in local languages shows you value international customers.

For example, ecommerce retailer BASE grew international sales from 46% to 60% after translating their site into 11 languages.

Improve SEO and Rank Higher

Creating localized versions of your content opens up more opportunities for organic search visibility. Your pages can start ranking for relevant non-English keywords that were previously inaccessible.

This study by Searchmetrics found that pages in multiple languages had 167% more keyword rankings on average compared to single language pages:

Chart showing pages in 2 languages had 167% more keywords

Translation allows you to be visible when people search in their preferred language.

Reduce Bounce Rates

Over 70% of consumers prefer to purchase products and services in their native language. Visitors are much more likely to engage with content in a language they‘re fluent in.

Offering localized translations caters to what your international visitors expect. This improves user experience and reduces frustrating bounce backs.

In fact, one study found localized sites had up to 60% lower bounce rates compared to English-only sites.

The more relevant your content is, the longer visitors will stay on your site. And that can boost conversions.

Clearly, ensuring your site content reads naturally in multiple languages provides major benefits.

So how do you choose the right WordPress translation plugin to make your vision of a multilingual site a reality? Let’s look at key factors to consider.

How to Choose the Best WordPress Translation Plugin

All translation plugins aim to achieve the same goal, but the features and capabilities can vary widely. Here are five criteria to evaluate when making your selection:

1. Languages Supported

The number of languages supported should be a top consideration. This will shape the breadth of your global expansion opportunities.

At a minimum, aim for plugins that offer:

  • All major Romance and Germanic languages (Spanish, French, German etc.)
  • Languages like Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Hindi
  • Support for Right-to-Left (RTL) languages

Ideally, choose a plugin with 100+ languages like WPML and TranslatePress. This gives you room to grow.

2. Translation Method and Quality

Carefully weigh the pros and cons of machine vs human translation:

Machine TranslationHuman Translation
SpeedBlazing fast – can translate content almost instantly with the click of a buttonSlower turnaround time as humans need days or weeks to translate manually
CostCheaper since it‘s automated by technology. Typical cost is $0.01 – $0.10 per word translated.More expensive at around $0.12 – $0.25 per word, but pricing can vary.
QualityVaries greatly depending on engine used. Works well for grasping basic gist but lacks nuance.Superior accuracy and fluency. Humans excel at capturing tone, style, subtleties.
Use CasesBest for "gisting" content quickly or translating very large volumes. Ideal for blogs, docs, support content.Better for sensitive or marketing content. Anything where message integrity is key.

Many plugins like TranslatePress offer Hybrid Translation – a blend of both machine and professional human translation. This gives a good balance of automation with human oversight for accuracy.

3. Supported Content

Assess which types of content on your site require translation – this could include:

  • Page content
  • Products, categories, attributes
  • Navigation and menus
  • Widgets and plugins
  • Images and videos (alt text)

The more content the plugin can handle out of the box, the better. Check reviews to confirm the translation experience is seamless.

4. Advanced Translation Functionality

Look for these features to smooth and streamline your translation process:

  • Translation management system – Central workflow for assigning and managing translators
  • Translation memory – Reuse previously translated strings and phrases
  • Machine translation integrations – Quickly generate draft translations
  • Word count limits – Critical for budgeting human translations

5. Multilingual SEO Capabilities

Translating content is only part of the equation. Your plugin should also optimize translated pages for search visibility.

Key multilingual SEO features to have:

  • Alternate language pages with hreflang tags
  • Translate title tags and meta descriptions per language
  • Localized URL support for regional search relevancy

Without proper SEO implementation, those translated pages become invisible to search engines and your global audience.

Top WordPress Translation Plugins Compared

Now let’s dive into the top plugins on the market and how they compare across these criteria:

wordpress translation plugins compared

WPML stands out as one of the most powerful choices. With over 400,000 active installs and decades of development, it’s trusted by enterprise sites. The unlimited word count and 190+ languages are ideal for large-scale multilingual sites.

TranslatePress takes a lighter-weight approach while still offering an impressive 90+ languages. The free version is a good entry point for smaller sites before upgrading to Pro plans. Active development and 5-star reviews reflect its growing popularity.

Weglot provides a simplified solution focused purely on translation. It skips complex configuration with an instant setup button. Limitations are no RTL language support and fewer SEO options compared to rivals.

Google Translate is the most affordable option, as the basic version is free. It offers a quick way to get started with machine translations but should not be relied on alone for quality. Upgrading to the paid plan adds human proofreading.

Overall WPML and TranslatePress excel thanks to robust features, translation quality, and smooth integration. But weigh your specific priorities and site needs when deciding between top contenders.

Expert Tips for Optimizing Multilingual Websites

To dig deeper on best practices for translated WordPress sites, I consulted two leading experts.

Here are their top tips for getting the most from your translation plugin and multilingual content strategy:

Alyssa Gregory, Digital Marketing & International SEO Strategist

"In order for a multilingual website implementation to be successful long-term, it takes more than just translating content word for word. The translations have to be accurate, with the right localization adapations made per culture and language. Plus the technical SEO implementation must be air tight – from hreflangs to tags to URL structure. My advice is to have native translators review any machine translations before going live, and work with experts familiar with international SEO nuances.”

Matt Payne, WordPress Translation Specialist & Founder of TranslateWP

"Choose a plugin with built-in translation management and look for integrations with professional human translation services. Machine translation alone results in poor quality that damages engagement. Working with skilled human translators is worth the investment – it leads to more natural, accurate translations that truly resonate with foreign audiences."

The key takeaways are ensuring high translation quality through human review and nailing down the technical SEO details across languages.

When configured properly, your translated content will drive more organic search traffic and clicks.

Setting Up Your Multilingual Plugin

Once you’ve chosen the best translation plugin for your needs, here is a checklist to ensure smooth implementation:

  • Install the plugin on your staging or development site first
  • Create translated versions of your most important pages and posts
  • Integrate with a translation management system
  • Use the plugin’s tools to localize URLs, metadata, etc per language
  • Add hreflang annotations to alternate language pages
  • Enable a language switcher menu on your site
  • Configure machine translation as needed for rapid gisting
  • Monitor translated content quality before going live
  • Promote new languages through local outreach and social campaigns

Take time to test everything thoroughly and optimize on staging before deploying multilingual capabilities to your live site.

Monitor visitor behavior across geographies and tweak your translated content over time as needed.

Expand Your Global Presence with Multilingual WordPress

Reaching audiences around the world in their own languages is a proven way to boost engagement and increase sales.

Choosing the right translation plugin tailored to your needs is step one. Be sure to also invest in high-quality human translations and nail down the technical SEO factors.

With the wisdom in this guide, you‘re now equipped to turn your WordPress site into a thriving multilingual platform.

Removing language barriers provides an immense growth opportunity. Go out and seize it!

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