Using multiple languages in WordPress

If you’re a successful business that operates internationally or simply running a site in a bilingual or trilingual country, you’ll early on face an important question – how do I structure and run multiple language versions of my site? Never fear, here are a few pointers to address this tricky question.

Deciding on an overall approach

Some sites decide to simply create regional versions of their site, differentiating by domain, for example using mybusinessname.fr for a French version and mybusinessname.es for the Spanish version. The advantage of this is no interference between sites and results, but is quite labour intensive, as you’ll essentially need to copy resources from one domain to the next, and you may be restricted in which domains you can actually purchase (some may require proof of a registered address in the country domain) so let’s look at option two.

The second option is to create subdomains for different language combinations. The options in the previous paragraph could be presented as “fr.mybusinessname.com” and “sp.mybusinessname.com”, meaning you can run several different language versions of your site without the added expense of purchasing different domains.

Adding a language switcher

You can add a language switch button to your site under Appearance and then going to Menus in the WordPress panel.

Plugins

Ultimately, you can engineer multiple versions of your site yourself using the methods above, but a more efficient method is to choose a WordPress plugin to handle the entire process on an automatic basis. One good option is TranslatePress, which will automatically create multiple language versions of your site as well as giving you a translation editor to aid with creation of multilingual text, which you can then pass on to your translation service provider.

Some other useful features here are creation of language specific URLs for translated pages, which will aid search result ranking for your translated pages.

Consider multilingualism from the start if you can

In the long run, it’s much easier (and more efficient) to run your site as multilingual from the get go rather than converting your monolingual site to multiple languages later on. Some themes, like Divi, support multiple languages as it is, so you won’t have to deal with much reconfiguration later on. Good luck with your multiple language site project!