I have just carried out a switchover operation of this blog to transform it into multilingual wordpress (for the moment English and Spanish). I had a lot of questions before starting this project (how to proceed, what SEO impact, especially on the existing one, how to manage translations…). I was able to find answers to most of them, I propose to share this experience with you.
Multilingual WordPress and SEO
One of the first questions I asked myself before starting was the impact on SEO. I was worried that it might have a negative impact on SEO. I was also afraid that my URLs would change. Indeed, when setting up a multilingual site, this generally involves adding a language criterion in the URL. For example, the URL can appear as a sub-domain (en.gafish.fr, es.gafish.fr) or by adding the language after the domain (gafish.fr/en/, gafish.fr/es /). As I already had an existing site in French, and that the URLs known to the engines did not have “fr”, I wanted to be sure that the URLs of the default language would not change.
On all these aspects, I was able to reassure myself fairly quickly.
Regarding SEO, all the documentation I found goes in the same direction, it brings (if it is well managed) a gain. And that makes sense because it opens up the site to queries in languages that weren’t covered before. And if you manage three languages for example, an article will give rise not to one page, but to three.
If everything is well managed, there will be no duplicate content. You have to do the following things:
- have separate urls (via subdomain or by adding the notion of language in the URL)
- correctly manage your translations via the hreflang tag, allowing you to indicate to the engines that it is the same article but offered in several languages. See the documentation on this subject on the Google site .
Good news, most of the plugins you will find on WordPress automatically manage these aspects.
And you can have a default language that uses languageless URLs.
Multilingual WordPress: choice of plugin
There are a number of plugins that will allow you to offer multilingual versions of your site. Among the best known:
Their modes of operation are quite different. They can be classified into two categories:
- Plugins with automatic translation, in 5 minutes your site is translated (weglot, linguise)
- The plugins offering the multilingual architecture under wordpress, but for which it will be necessary to add the translations
The first are tempting because of their ease of use and the speed of implementation. On the other hand, they can come back to you quite quickly relatively expensive because they are in the form of a subscription. I tested Linguise, telling myself that with this blog I would be well under the limit of 100,000 words, but finally after a few days I arrived at 200,000 words without all the articles having been consulted. And it’s quite strange on the principle of not controlling everything via the WordPress back-office, it gives the impression of not controlling everything, even if we can act on the translations that are made to improve them.
Quite quickly, I therefore switched to Polylang, which has several advantages for me:
- everything is controlled via the wordpress back-office, which makes it easy to have control of everything
- you can choose to translate or not certain articles, you really build versions per language which can be different from the original version
- it’s free for my use (there is also a paid version, this link shows the differences between the versions)
- so no worries about adding a new language if I want to, except it’s a bit of work
On the other hand, the task is much more important. Indeed, we must translate:
- Categories with their description
- The menus
- The articles
- Meta descriptions associated with articles
Which means that it’s not as immediate as with the other plugins, and we’ll have to roll up our sleeves.
Multilingual WordPress: translation management with Polylang
There are several steps to take to translate your site. Ideally, follow this order:
- create your new language via the “Languages” menu
- translate your categories. In Polylang, each time you want to add a language, or modify the content, you can manage it via the “+” or the pencils in front of your element. For example, in front of a category, if you have a plus under a language, it means that the latter is not translated. Clicking on the “+” will take you to the entry form for this language. It will be the same principle on the articles as well. In the screenshot above, you can see that the first two categories are translated into English and Spanish (pencil), not the third (+).
- then move on to your articles, this is what takes you the most time. Don’t forget the internal links which must refer to the pages translated into the language concerned. Depending on your SEO plugin if you have one you will also have to manage the translation of the meta description
- it is then the turn of your pages if you have any
- finally, translate your menus
Multilingual WordPress: the actual translation
The most complicated point. Several options are available to you:
- you are perfectly bilingual, the subject is closed you are autonomous for translations
- you go through automatic translations of the google translate type, for example by translating the pages each in turn via their URLs . Be careful in this case, all the links, even the internal ones, will turn into a google translate link. You will have to edit them one by one. It is an option for fast, but automatic translations with the few possible hazards. I have done a large majority of translations this way so far, with the idea of then going back calmly page by page, starting with the most important, or key expressions.
- you have your pages translated by humans, for example via Fiverr . Pricing will be linked to the number of words. It will start around 5 euros for a few hundred words, also check the reviews of freelancers.
And you can of course have a mix of all of this, machine translations for standard articles, and human translations for featured articles. This is what I envision in the long term for widely read articles such as the one allowing you to build your arcade machine , the file on cryptocurrencies or the one on 3D printing .
There, you have all the cards in hand. It’s not that complicated, it really all depends on your volume of items to process. For my part, it’s very recent, I’m waiting to see what effect it will have on attendance. In any case, it’s nice to see his blog opening up to the world and in the stats to see the first consultations of translated pages.