Imagine going to an online store where you couldn’t read the words because the site was written in a different language. Would you make a purchase? Probably not.
In a global economy, your WordPress website needs to be accessible in several languages. A study found that 80% of shoppers are more likely to purchase a product from a website that’s in their native language. It makes it easier for your customers to navigate your website and shop with confidence.
Multilingual sites provide a positive website experience while earning the trust of your non-English speaking customers. Rather than relying on the inconsistencies of translation tools, like Google Translate, your visitors can focus on adding items to their shopping carts.
In this post, we’ll walk through how to create a multilingual site with WordPress and highlight a few best practices to improve the visitor experience.
What is a multilingual site?
A multilingual site is a website with content in more than one language. It’s useful for businesses wanting to attract a global customer base. The website also should communicate the language-specific content to reflect the local culture of the visitor.
Right now, the default language in WordPress is English. So, your website limits your reach to connect with customers in other countries.
The best solution is to create a multilingual site for your visitors. That way, you can gain new customers from around the world.
Benefits of Creating a Multilingual Site
When developing your multilingual site, you’ll probably get help from several team members. Keep brainstorming sessions on track by restating the tangible benefits of a multilingual site.
Improve Site Traffic
A multilingual site helps search engines match your language-specific content to searchers who speak that language. By providing content in multiple languages and driving traffic from worldwide locations, search engines recognize the quality of your content. As a result, you’ll rank higher on search engine pages and more people will visit your website.
Increase Your Sales
People don’t buy what they can’t read because they want to feel comfortable when making a purchase online. A multilingual site makes your brand accessible to non-English speaking customers, so you can capture their attention and showcase your products in their native language.
Gain a Competitive Advantage
Most businesses strive to outshine their competitors through product differentiation. Adding unique features to your product or service is a great idea but can be costly and timely. You can further tap into the market of your current product by translating your website into multiple languages. A multilingual site opens your business to entirely new markets beyond your competitors’ reach.
Build Brand Trust
A study found that 42% of online consumers never make a purchase in a language other than their own. These consumers also are skeptical about making online purchases on a site with translation mistakes. Therefore, a high-quality multilingual site can offer potential customers a sense of familiarity so that you can gain their trust.
Plugins to Create a Multilingual Site With WordPress
- Google Language Translator
Multilingual sites used to involve a complex development process and hiring someone to manually translate web pages into other languages. Fortunately, WordPress plugins have made it much easier by translating the content for you. You can use any of the plugins below to create your multilingual site, and check out our full list of language translation plugins for more suggestions.
Weglot is a trusted translation plugin for e-commerce and SaaS companies. The tool detects and translates all your website content to your desired language and provides a single dashboard to edit translations. It even creates a dedicated URL for each language to help search engines direct visitors to the most appropriate version of your page.
Google Language Translator is one of the most popular website translation services providers. It translates everything from posts and pages to categories and tags. Upgrade to the paid version to translate metadata, manually correct translations, integrate with WooCommerce, and get live chat support.
Polylang is a comprehensive translation plugin to help you create a multilingual site with ease. Just create the page in the default language, and then select the new language to translate the page. Your visitors also have access to a language switcher that you can customize on the backend. To improve language consistency, you can install Lingotek Translation, a plugin to manage the translation process, as an addon of Polylang.
WPML comes with more than 40 different languages, including the option to add your own language variants, like Canadian French or Mexican Spanish. You can customize your URLs and translate SEO meta information. This plugin is unique because you can assign specific translation jobs to admin users within the dashboard. Plus, WPML offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee; if the plugin isn’t helpful, you can request a refund—no questions asked.
Best Practices for Multilingual Sites
The visitor experience is a major priority when creating a multilingual site. It’s not enough to just translate the words on your site, you also need to localize your content and get it to rank on search engines. So, we found a few best practices to help you on this journey.
Consider Cultural Differences
Every English word or phrase won’t translate well into another language. For example, American idioms, like it’s raining cats and dogs, may not mean anything to someone in another country. You’ll want to enlist the help of a localization expert to avoid these cultural pitfalls.
Use Dedicated URLs
Your goal is to guide new visitors who speak a different language to your website. So, rather than using cookies or browser settings to adjust the content language on your pages, Google suggests using different URLs for each language version of a page. You can tell Google about the different variations of your website by adding hreflang annotations to help your site rank on its search engine.
Select Specific Languages
Creating a multilingual site doesn’t mean developing a website in every possible language. That’s not an efficient way to use your company’s resources. Instead, work with your team to identify the most common languages in your target market. Then, develop a plan to launch one or two sites with the identified languages.
Strive to build an accessible website to reach a global customer base. Non-English speaking visitors want to connect with your brand. By creating a multilingual site with WordPress, your business can earn more website traffic, increase your sales, and earn a competitive advantage.
Originally published Oct 11, 2019 11:30:00 AM, updated March 19 2021