Using WPML to Add Languages to Your WordPress Website

wpml wordpress

To reach a wider audience, you need a multilingual website. However, running a multilingual WordPress site as a beginner can feel a little challenging. Fortunately, it isn’t as difficult or time-consuming as you may think. So, we’ll take you by the hand. In this guide, you’ll learn how to create a multilingual WordPress site using WPML.


  1. What is WPML
  2. How it Works
  3. Using WPML to add different languages in WordPress
  4. WPML alternatives
  5. Conclusion

What is WPML?

The WordPress Multilingual (WPML) plugin is a tool for building and managing multilingual WordPress sites. It lets you translate pages, posts, menus, taxonomy, and your theme’s texts.

You can do all of these without any coding experience. After installing the plugin on your website, you’ll be able to choose the languages you want.

The default plugin installation comes with over 40 languages. That’s a lot! Users can go as far as adding language variants to their sites using the WPML’s language editor. This means visitors can switch from Mexican Spanish to Cuban Spanish or any other variant..

Here are some other features:

  • It is compatible with most popular themes and plugins
  • You get to decide how your URL looks
  • Great support.
  • You can set SEO meta description for translations.

How WPML Works

When you download WPML for WordPress, note that it isn’t going to translate your own posts and pages. You will have to translate them yourself. It’s only going to translate the text in WordPress itself.

This means that someone in Country A can read your WordPress site in their native language while someone in Country B can do the same thing, despite the two languages being different.

If you have more than one site user on your site, they will be able to see their own languages in the WordPress admin. This “admin language” may be different from what is displayed on the site’s front-end. This is what makes WPML even more special.

If you’re going to run a site in a language other than English, this is a good option. Why? Because you can write in your native language while having it translated to foreign languages of your choice.

For the most part, WPML translations load pretty fast. So when you create your Multilingual WordPress site, the performance isn’t going to suffer.

Using WPML to create multilingual WordPress site 

First thing first, backup your website. This is important every time you need to add new functionality to your website. It may take some of your time but it will save you from losing your data.

See our guide on the best WP backup plugins to use. After a successful backup, follow these steps to create a multilingual website.

Step 1: Purchase WPML plugin

Subscribe to one of the WPML plans.  Subscription plans include:

Multilingual Blog: Initial purchase costs $29, while the renewal cost is $21 per year. This WPML version lets you translate posts, pages, menus, custom types, tags, categories, menus.

It also has a browser language detection feature and a 12-month performance guarantee. This plan is the cheapest and the most limited of all three plans. It does not translate WooCommerce sites, neither does it translate widgets or texts in plugin and theme admin.

With this version, you can register only one site.

Multilingual CMS: Initial purchase costs $79, while the renewal cost is $59 per year. This version is a lot more functional that the Multilingual blog. It translates WooComerce sites, widgets, texts in plugins, and theme admin.

You can manage attachments in different languages and register up to 3 websites.

Multilingual Agencies: Initial purchase costs $159, while the renewal cost is $119. With this version, you get to register unlimited websites.

Subscribe to any of the plans and you’ll receive a link to download a ZIP file.

Step 2: Download,Activate, and Configure WPML WordPress plugin

Go to your WP dashboard. Open Plugins >> Add NewSelect Upload Plugin and locate the WPML zip file.

Next, click “Install”. After installation, hit “Activate”. You’ll see a WPML tab on your WP dashboard. Go to WPML >> Languagesand confirm your site’s current language.

Then, click “Next”. You’ll be required to select new languages for your site. Simply, tick the appropriate boxes. You can add and remove languages later, as you wish.

If you have gotten this, far, you have done well.

The next step requires you to set up a ‘language switcher’. This feature enables your site visitors to switch from one language to another on your site.

You’ll see the Language Switcher options. Under “Language Switcher widget”, tick the  “Widget Area” box.

Next, scroll down to the “Langage switcher style section”. You can choose between “List Of languages” or “Drop-down menu”.

Lastly, what would you like to include in the language switcher? Flag? Would you like the language name written in native form? Whatever option you prefer, tick it.

Save changes.

Step #3: Translate your Content

WPML does not translate your WordPress posts and pages for you. If you are multilingual, this is a plus for you. If not, you can outsource.

To get started, click to edit a post or page. You’ll see a new meta box introduced next to your WordPress editor:

In this box, you can set the language of the new page, and make it a translation of another page (let’s say your About page). Didn’t get that?

This simply means if a user opens your About page, and switches from one language to the other while on the page, they’ll be directed the translated page you have just created.

To translate your content, activate the Translation Management add-on. It is a WPML add-on that allows you to work with a group of translators. upon activation, WPML will guide you through  setup process. 

During this process, you get to choose which translation editor you prefer and who will translate your site. it could be you, a team of local translators, a professional service, or a translation manager.

For more details on this, go through this WPML’s content translation guide to help you through the process!

WPML Alternatives

WPML is the oldest and the most popular plugin for running and managing WordPress multilingual sites. It’s one of the easiest, cheapest, and most efficient ways to run a multilingual WP site in this day and age.

But, if for any reason you want to try something different, here are three WPML alternatives:

Polylang: Just like WPML,  Polylang lets you translate posts, pages, media, categories, widgets, navigation menus, tags, custom post types, custom taxonomies, even URLs.

It is easy to use, SEO-friendly, and efficient. Polylang has a free version for those who desire basic features only. The pro version starts from 99 pounds.

Translate press: This is a freemium plugin that enables you to translate Taxonomies, Menu items, WooCommerce products, Page builder, URL slugs, Theme and plugin strings, content, and Shortcode outputs. The Premium version starts from $79.

Weglot: the moment you configure this plugin, it automatically translates your site. However, the translations are not usually perfect. You can then manually edit the translations or outsource it to translators.

You pay for this plugin based on the number of words that you need to translate and how many pageviews your translated content gets per month

WPML WordPress – Conclusion

If you have any questions about what WPML is, or how it works, feel free to leave it in the comment box below. We’ll do our best to answer your question as accurately as possible.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to subscribe to future blog posts!

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