Translating the website and WordPress plugins (2018)

Translating the website is more and more important when your business grows. WordPress is one of the world’s most popular content management systems. However, WordPress is not, in essence, a multilingual content management system. So if you want to translate your website, you should ask yourself the following questions.

translating the website

Important questions

  • How big is your website and how difficult is it to manage?
  • Would you like to translate the website yourself or use a translation service?
  • What is your budget for translating the website?
  • How much time can you spare for translation management?
  • Would you like to translate the entire website or only a part of it?
  • Why do you consider translating the website?
  • Would you like your foreign customers to find your product or service through a search engine?

While here in Estonia, search engine optimisation generally means optimising for the Google search engine, in China, for example, Google’s services are censored and the most popular search engine is Baidu. In Russia, meanwhile, the most widely used search engine is Yandex. Estonian Russians often use Yandex as well.

The WordPress content management system broadly offers the following options for translation: Using
translation plugins, multisite  or a translation proxy.
Plugins are software modules that add extra features to a software system. Plugins allow expanding software functionality by using the corresponding application interface.

Classical translation (free and paid)

Machine translation (e.g. the Google Translate plugin) is the cheapest method for translating your website. By using a plugin, there is no need for a translator. The disadvantage of machine translation, however, is that it is not very accurate. It will not allow you to build your brand image and you have no control over what people are reading.

Semi-automatic translation (free of charge)

Semi-automatic translation plugins (e.g. TransPosh) allow combining automatic translation with traditional translation.

Classical translation (free and paid)

Another option is to use plugins where translation is performed by people. The most popular plugins are, for example, qTranslateX, Polylang, Xili-language and WPML (The WordPress Multilingual Plugin). qTranslateX, Xili-language and Polyland are free plugins, but their downsides are slightly fewer options and weaker support compared to the paid WPML plugin. Moreover, they are not compatible with every WordPress theme.

WPML WordPress Plugin

WPML is a paid plugin (currently $79) that works with most WordPress themes. At the moment, WPML supports over 40 languages, and can also be used to translate online stores (WooCommerce), WordPress themes, other plugins and widgets. You can also translate SEO attributes: WPML enables independent SEO for each webpage.

WPML is convenient for translators, because it has a well-designed interface that supports working with translation software. For example, you can send the translator translation files in XLIFF format directly from the WordPress interface. In addition, you can use WPML partner translation agencies (e.g. TranslateMedia, ICanLocalize) through the WPML interface.

WordPress Multisite environment (free and paid)

The WordPress Multisite environment allows you to create a separate website for each language. This means you can have a primary address of, for example, and then a sub-domain for a Russian-language version such as or This solution is best suited for large and content-rich websites. Multisite can be used with or without plugins. The downside of the Multisite environment is that it is more difficult to manage. The same goes for managing translations.

Translation proxy (paid)

Translation proxies allow applying translations directly onto the page without creating a new version of your website. They work a bit like automatic translation, as translation is cloud-based, but the texts are still translated by people. Translation proxy plugins include, for example, EasyLing and Smartling.


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