Should You Make Your WordPress Website Multilingual?

Whether your business is experiencing rapid growth, you’ve spotted a clear market overseas, or you cater to international clients, chances are you’ve considered making your WordPress website multilingual. However, there’s a lot more to multilingual websites than picking a few languages and passing your content through a translation app. Careful decisions need to be made regarding which languages you decide to use, how to translate your website and manage local SEO, and the cost of both creating and maintaining a multilingual WordPress site.

Accessing Global Markets

English is certainly the language of the internet, and accounts for more than half of all website content. However, that still leaves a huge portion of the global marketplace unaccounted for, and, depending on the industry, those markets shouldn’t be underestimated. Those figures are also much less reflective of the demographic of internet users. English is the third most spoken language in the world after Chinese and Spanish, so the fact that content is written in English doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the audience’s language of choice. Businesses with access to markets abroad, or even those with a multilingual audience within their own country, stand to profit from the benefits of a multilingual site.

Which Languages Should You Cater For?

The potential for accessing international markets doesn’t mean you should dive straight in and translate your website into twenty languages. Creating a multilingual site is often both expensive and time-consuming, and each language brings its own set of costs.

Multilingual websites need to be budgeted for long-term, as all future content will usually require translating into every chosen language. Depending on the amount of content a website generates, that can quickly become a huge on-going expense. As such, it’s important to carry out proper research, and choose languages that will directly benefit your business. Some companies only select languages they are able to provide customer service for, in order to maintain the quality and reputation of their service abroad.

Creating a Multilingual Website

There are two methods for making a WordPress website multilingual:

#1Multisite

This is our preferred solution. There are many great reasons to use WordPress multisite, and creating a high-performance multilingual site is one of them. It allows the website’s CMS to remain fast, user-friendly, flexible and easy to support. With multisite, language variations are separated from one another, allowing administrators to give local editors credentials to look after their own local language variations – making it perfect for large teams split across different countries.

#2WPML Plugin

Smaller businesses seeking a simple solution can opt to install the WPML Plugin in order to make their website multilingual. It is designed to be compatible with existing themes and plugins, and allows you to optimise your site for SEO in multiple languages. However, this solution is more appropriate for small websites and brochure sites, as the plugin is very heavy and slows websites down, making the CMS difficult to use. For large corporate websites, we would recommend using the multisite method instead.

Using Professional Translators

Anyone who’s copy and pasted an article or email into a translation app will know that while the technologies are impressive, and improving all the time, they’re far from perfect – and certainly not good enough for published website content. Whilst translation plugins can help with page copy, headings, URLs and short text, long-form content such as blogs and articles requires human translation. Translating content can be difficult and time-consuming. Even if you, or a member of your team, speaks a chosen language, you may want to use a professional translator to get the work done fast and accurately – it may end up costing you less in the long run.

Improving SEO

Multilingual content can have a really positive effect on SEO across the entire site, as each language will be indexed by search engines separately. It should also allow you generate more organic traffic by allowing your content to reach a wider global audience. In some cases, your products or services may also have more reach in certain languages due to localised demand – allowing you to generate more traffic and conversions from the same content. But translating a website also means translating your SEO efforts, and there are no shortcuts. This includes translating URLs, metadata and tags, as well as carrying out keyword research for each language.

Yoast is powerful SEO plugin that also features extensive multilingual capabilities for managing local SEO. For large companies with teams spread out across several countries, multisite can help by allowing SEO responsibilities to be transferred to local administrators.

Conclusion

Creating a Multilingual WordPress website can have huge benefits for any business seeking to expand their international customer base, or even reach a multilingual audience within their own country. It can lead to an increase in online visibility and organic traffic, and improve SEO over the entire site.

However, the costs involved cannot be underestimated, and must be considered long-term. It is therefore important to select any additional languages carefully, as these additional costs will need to be budgeted for, and justified by a subsequent increase in revenue.

If you need support with your Multilingual WordPress Website then please do get in touch with us to see how we can help.

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