Website translation

How to set up WPML correctly to translate WordPress

Read time: 6 minutes

Set up WPML correctly for WordPress.

We are going to take a chance and assume the following:

You are here because you want to make your WordPress website multilingual and you are considering using the WPML plugin, right?

WPML is a multilingual WordPress plugin for easily adding other languages to your website. However, setting up WPML correctly can be tricky.

Fear not! 

We are here to tell you everything you need to know to set up WPML correctly and translate your site successfully.

Shall we?

Successfully impacting all markets

WPML Multilingual: what is it and how does it work?

Let’s start at the beginning: if you are just learning about this plugin, here’s a bit of context before we start.

WPML (WordPress Multilingual Plugin) allows you to easily create and manage multilingual websites on WordPress.

WordPress plugins are add-ons that can be installed to enhance or add new features to WordPress. 

The plugin adds new code to the WordPress core to provide a new feature. This code is integrated into the page and run each time the page is loaded. 

WPML can create different language versions of the website and manage all this content from a single control panel.

If we set up WPML correctly, we will be able to translate most of the website’s content, from pages and blog posts, to menus and widgets. One of the reasons why WPML is one of the most popular plugins among users is its compatibility with most themes and other WordPress plugins, so it can be easily integrated. 

Setting up WPML one step at a time

Let’s get down to business. 

We are going to tell you how to set up WPML in 5 steps. However, if you are still a little confused about multilingual websites, we recommend you take a look at our article “Everything you need to know about website translation”.

WPML is a paid plugin, so you need to purchase a license. The plugin offers several subscription plans for enjoying the tool based on your needs. 

Installing WPML

The first thing to do is to download and install WPML. You can download it from the official website or from the WordPress plugin repository.

  1. Go to the “Plugins” section.
  2. Click on “Add”.
  3. Click on “Upload Plugin” and select the downloaded WPML .zip file.
  4. Click on “Install Now”.
  5. Once the installation is complete, you will be able to activate the plugin.

After the WPML is installed and activated, it will ask you to set the main language of your website.

Set the language

Once the main language is set up, you can add additional languages. When setting up WPML, you will be able to choose from over 40 different languages, and also add language variants. You will find it by going to: 

  • Go to the “WPML” menu and click on the “Languages” tab where you can select “Add/Remove Language” and choose the one you would like.

Translate content with WPML

Go to the “Translations” tab under the “WPML” menu, where you can click on the “Translate” button for all the language variants of your page for the languages you have set up. WPML is able to include several translation methods: machine translation, which is powered by engines such as DeepL or Google Translate, and human translation.

To set up WPML for machine translation you will need to:

  1. Click on the “Machine Translation” tab from the WPML control panel.
  2. Select the translation engine of your choice from the options offered by WPML.
  3. You need to link the translation engine to WPML by entering its API key. Some of these machine translation systems, such as Google Translate, offer a free API key.

As we were saying, after saving your settings, you can also set human translations by selecting professional translators to review and edit the machine translation.

WPML also allows you to change the look of your website for the individual versions in each language, where you can add version-specific content such as different images or menus. 

Additional help to set up WPML properly

If you still have questions, here are some places that can help you to set up WPML very easily:

  • WPML Documentation: includes detailed guides for each of WPML’s functions and features, along with video tutorials and FAQs.

The documentation also provides solutions for the most common issues among users when setting up WPML.

We recommend you take a look at it before you start.

  • WPML Support Forum: the place to get help from the WPML user community. This is the forum where users post their questions and issues related to the plugin and receive answers from other users and the WPML support team.
  • WPML Setup Wizard: this wizard guides you through the basic set up of WPML. It will help you select the languages you want to add to your website and set up automatic language detection, and much more.
  • WPML Translation Management: with this you will be able to manage and monitor the entire translation process for your website. 

Thanks to this tool, you can assign translation tasks to specific translators, monitor translation progress and receive translation status notifications.

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Why is translating your website so important? 

Whether you are looking for a solution to set up WPML on your website or considering translation alternatives with WordPress, we would like to briefly stress the importance and benefits of having a multilingual website: 

  • Global reach and competitiveness: if your website is available in several languages, you will increase its reach to include a global audience. By offering your content in different languages, you will be opening your website to a wider and more diverse audience .
  • User experience: users consuming content in their native language —which is where having your website translated properly comes in— will have an enhanced user experience, find it easier to browse and, lastly, will better understand the messages we are trying to convey and promote.
  • SEO: when translating a website, you need to focus on SEO. Multilingual SEO will help you to rank your site higher in different countries and regions thanks to selecting the most important keywords for your target markets in relation to your products and services.

If you want to go deeper into this topic and prevent any SEO translation mistakes, we recommend you read our article “International SEO: the most common mistakes when boosting your website’s ranking in other countries”.

A final note about the topic at hand: now that we know how to set up WPML and have access to information, guides and tips, we need to ask ourselves one last question:

Can we trust WPML translations?

The first thing we have to understand is that WPML does not actually translate. It features tools and options for users to translate their content, either manually or through machine translation.

In this sense, keep in mind that machine translations are not perfect and may contain errors and omissions. 

In addition, the quality of machine translations may vary depending on the language, context and technical complexity of the text.

Although WPML is a very useful tool for making website translation easy, you need to realize that setting up WPML for your website is not enough for ensuring high-quality translation

We recommend having a professional translation team to help you out here. Professionals will assess your project and provide you with advice on the best way to translate your website, either using the WPML plugin or another system. This way you can forget about everything and rest assured that the end product will meet your goals and needs.

At iDISC, a professional translation agency, we are website translation and localization experts.

We have been working with IT for over 30 years and have helped a host of companies like yours expand internationally  through multilingual websites that are always up to date.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Get in touch if you would like to learn more about our solution. 

You will also find more content on our blog.

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