How to Make a WordPress Website Multilingual

It is known that WordPress is the most popular CMS (content management system) in the world. This makes it even more surprising that it does not have the built-in ability to create a multilingual website. Thankfully there are some good options on how to achieve this objective.

As a hotel you should make sure that your website is as accessible as possible to most of your customers. Having your website available in a guest’s native language can be the defining factor for a tourist to book your hotel instead of a competitor.

I have decided to describe 3 popular ways that you can make your WordPress website multilingual.

 
WPML Logo

1. Plugin: WPML ($29-$79)

WPML is probably the most popular plugin for a multilingual WordPress website, even though it is a premium plugin.

Currently there are two pricing plans: $29 and $79, both of which come with one year of free updates and support. This is a plugin that you will want to keep updated, so you will probably have to renew your subscription every year.

The fact that there is a business behind this plugin is a good thing. This is an almost 100% guarantee that the developers will always work on improvements and updates.

All of our themes are fully compatible with WPML.

 
WPML: Quickly access translations for each post/page
WPML: Quickly access translations for each post/page
 

WPML Pros:

  • Great features and somewhat frequent updates;
  • Access to support from developers;
  • Flexible plugin settings;
  • Affordable price;

WPML Cons:

  • It can be a little difficult to start with, especially for inexperienced WordPress users;
  • In rare cases the plugin might behave a little hectic during setup;
 

Visit the Official WPML Website

 
 

2. Plugin: qTranslate (free)

qTranslate is a good free alternative to WPML.

Currently it has over 760.000 downloads in the official plugins repository, with an average rank of 3.7 out of 5 stars.

It is somewhat easier to get started with qTranslate than with WPML, which will win over users that are new to WordPress.

 
qTranslate: All language versions of a post available on a single screen.
qTranslate: All language versions of a post available on a single screen.
 

qTranslate Pros:

  • Easy to get started with;
  • It is completely FREE;

qTranslate Cons:

  • If you decide to disable the plugin, it will leave a lot of proprietary mark-up;
  • Being a free plugin, it is not certain how much longer it will be updated by the developer;
  • Can be difficult to use on a website with a lot of languages;
 

View/Download qTranslate Plugin

 
 

3. WordPress MultiSite Installation

WordPress has had this feature since version 3.0, and it allows you to create multiple websites with a single WordPress installation. Here is an excerpt from the official documentation:

A multisite network is a collection of sites that all share the same WordPress installation. They can also share plugins and themes. The individual sites in the network are virtual sites in the sense that they do not have their own directories on your server, although they do have separate directories for media uploads within the shared installation, and they do have separate tables in the database.

The good thing about this option is that you can manage completely different versions for each language, which would be represented by a separate site. Of course this takes more time to set up, but offers much more control in the long run. This would be a good option for big, multinational corporate websites, where each language can be handled by a separate administrator and would have different content.

 

WordPress Multisite Pros:

  • Possible to delegate each language to a certain person or a whole group of people;
  • Possible to use a different theme and plugins for each language;
  • You don’t rely on a third-party plugin;

WordPress Multisite Cons:

  • Much more time-consuming to set up and manage;
  • No possibility to automatically inter-connect pages with their translations across the network;
  • Websites that are part of a Multisite installation cannot install their own themes or plugins, this has to be done by the main administrator;
 

Codex: How to Create a WordPress Network

 
 

In Conclusion

Whichever path you decide to take, having a multilingual website is imperative for a hotel. Besides adding an extra layer of comfort for some of your customers, this will immensely help your SEO efforts. Everybody tries to rank for their main keywords in English, but it usually is so much easier to rank for the same keywords in other languages.

Analyze your customer base, check your local tourism statistics and find out where most of tourists are coming from. This will help you plan better your multilingual website.

Author: Dumitru Brinzan

Founder and WordPress developer at HermesThemes.
With over 7 years of experience in the hospitality industry, it is my strong belief that WordPress brings unprecedented opportunities for independent hotels, B&Bs and inns.
Over a thousand of amazing properties worldwide use our Hotel WordPress Themes on their websites.

 
  • Alex

    I have started to use Transposh, sooo easy compared to WPML, and it can even generate automatic translated content that can be easily edited from the front end, or the backend. Give it a try :)

  • Alex Niseko

    Hi there – This is a very interesting blog, however I have a tough time understanding how the “WordPress multisite” would help in this case (AFAIK you wouldn’t be able to reference a page from one “sub-site” to another one???).
    I am managing de facto the websites for a small business in hospitality – and I need to have both several websites (to represent the different hotels we are managing) and several languages, but ideally I would like to find a way to manage easily common parts (i.e. being able to update the same page about “bookings terms and conditions” on all the websites). Is there a way to do this relatively easily? (Right now I am managing 8 wordpress installs and it is a pain in the neck)

    • Hello Alex,

      WordPress Multisite works well for websites that have different content for different languages, and is usually managed by different groups of people.
      It is an option that needed to be mentioned, even though it will not suit everybody.

      In your case I would say that WPML should be considered, the current versions of the plugin are rather easy to work with, especially after you get used to it.

  • Nathalie Salas

    Mant thanks Dumitru for sending me the link to this article. I have decided to the the qtranslate plugin. However, I’m not sure how I’m able to add multiple languages for the headings within installed page templates e.g. room type, daily rate, weekly rate etc. Is there a way that this can be changed? Thanks

    • Hey Nathalie,

      It really depends on what theme you are using.
      Some of them use dynamically generated strings (headings), while other themes have hard-coded headings.

      In the case of dynamic strings, our themes are made to be compatible with WPML, while qTranslate handles them much differently.

  • heinrich

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    About:

    “No the Possibility to automatically inter-connect pages with Their translations across the network;”

    It is possible to use WPML on a multisite install. In this case you can control not only the interconnection between pages but also use important attributes as hreflang. Keeping the several advantages of WP Multisite.

    • Hi Heinrich,

      I believe you misunderstood a little the point I was trying to make.
      What I meant is that in a WP Multisite environment, you wouldn’t be able to inter-connect those pages WITHOUT a plugin or some custom feature.

      So the argument is available only when you rely solely on WP Multisite, without any other scripts and plugins.

  • Tori Tran

    thank

  • Jesus Flores

    So I don’t know if this question has been asked but. I have a site with items for sale and I want a Spanish site will this automatically translate it or will I still need it manually translate?