Guide

Polylang vs. WPML (Plus, a Better Alternative)

Polylang vs. WPML (Plus, a Better Alternative)
Polylang vs. WPML (Plus, a Better Alternative)

This post looks at two popular plugins that can help you translate your WordPress site.

  1. Polylang
  2. WPML

Below, we cover each option in more detail, covering their main features, pricing, and where each plugin succeeds and falls short.

But we also cover an alternative to both of these translation plugins: Weglot. Like Polylang and WPML, you can use Weglot to translate your WordPress site. But there’s a big difference—Weglot offers a two-layered translation process:

  1. Weglot uses the best machine translation providers to quickly and accurately translate your entire site at once. The increasing accuracy of machine translation means that ⅔ of our customers never make any edits to their translated content.
  1. Weglot’s translation management tools allow you to customize your translations. You and your team can make edits to your translations, or you can order professional translation services directly on Weglot.

    Plus, you’ll get other key features like automatic content detection (so your translated sites are always up-to-date with the newest content). We also follow multilingual SEO best practices to help your site rank for the right audience.

Start your free trial today to translate your site. Otherwise, keep reading to learn about the differences between three different plugins: Polylang, WPML, and Weglot.

Polylang vs. WPML: What’s the Best Way to Translate Your WordPress Site?

How You Can Use Polylang to Translate Your Site

Polylang is mainly for letting you make manual translations to your WordPress content. There’s also a way to set up automatic translations, but it involves using another plugin, which we cover a little further down below.

Manual translations are good for when you have your own team of translators available.

(Note: If you don’t have your own team of translators but are interested in finding professional translators for your project, you can use Weglot’s dashboard to order professional translation services as you need them.)

Polylang creates separate posts for each new language you want to add to your site:

A walk-through on how to use Polylang to translate your site

From there, your team of translators can go in and translate the content. This method does make it relatively easy for your team to find and manage translations. They simply look for the post they want to translate, then find the right version of that post.

But it also requires a bit of work on your end. And again, you need your own translation team, or you need to export your content out of your site, send it to your translation agency, get the translated content back, and then upload it to your site.

But what if you want to make edits? For example, let’s say you find a poorly-translated phrase in one blog post. You want to correct it, but you also want to ensure it’s corrected across all your posts/landing pages. There isn’t really an easy or fast way to do this with Polylang.

Can You Use Polylang to Translate Your Site Automatically?

If you want to use automatic machine translation (something we definitely recommend as it’s faster and can be incredibly accurate with the right machine translation providers), then you need to install another plugin on top of Polylang: Lingotek Translation.

Lingotek uses Microsoft’s API translation software. This is a good tool, but down below, we look at how Weglot uses the best of several different providers—including Google Translate, DeepL, and more, to provide the most accurate translations possible.

A plus with Lingotek is that you can upload up to 20,000 words to be translated for free. And you can edit those translations in Lingotek’s dashboard. But keep in mind that this isn’t a seamless integration. You still need to make sure the changes you make in Lingotek show up correctly in Polylang, so they will then show up correctly on your site.

And if you need more than 20,000 words, you’ll need to start paying—and it can get costly. For example, for 60,000 translated words, you’re paying around $500 per year.

Polylang Pricing

Polylang has several different pricing tiers, including a free plan.

If you want machine translation for your site, you’ll have to think about the price of Polylang plus Lingotek.

Polylang: A Quick Overview

Polylang and Polylang Pro help you manually translate your WordPress site. You’ll need your own translation team ready to go, and they’ll be translating each page manually. This takes longer than using manual translation in combo with machine translation.

With Polylang, if you want to use automatic machine translation, you’ll need to combine Polylang with Lingotek. While free for the first 20k words, it gets expensive on larger sites and only uses one translation provider (meaning you’re relying on one source of translation accuracy).

How WPML Translates Your Site

In comparison to Polylang, WPML lets you use machine translation without downloading an extra plugin.

Here’s a quick overview of how to use WPML to translate your site.

First, you need to install 4 plugins to get the most out of WPML.

  1. WPML Multilingual CMS
  2. String Translation
  3. Translation Management
  4. Media Translations

After you’ve gone through and set up each plugin, you can start translating your site using the Translation Management plugin. (We recommend you follow the setup wizard, as there are a few steps involved for each plugin.)

First, select which posts/pages you want translated.

How to translate your website via your WordPress dashboard

Then, pick the languages you want to translate them into. You can also pick whether you want to duplicate content or not.

After that, you’ll add the content you want translated to your translation basket.

How to translate your website via your WordPress dashboard

Here your translators can see the translation queue.

You can also set priorities, so translators know which project is most important. When they want to start a project, they just click “Take and Translate.”

Here they can see the content they need to translate. They can translate line by line.

How to review your translations and create a multilingual blog

They can also expedite the process by clicking “Translate automatically.”

You can also choose to let the software translate all of your content for you

When they click this, WPML’s machine translation will automatically translate the content. But WPML recommends that you still review each translation manually before marking them as complete.

WPML: A Quick Overview

WPML works similarly to Polylang. They both use the WordPress back-end to let you manage your translated content. But the big difference is that you can use machine translation with WPML. This helps your translators finish their project more efficiently.

However, it’s still time-consuming to have to go through each page and post and manually start the translation process.

More than that, setting up WPML with your WordPress site takes longer than it should.

First, you need to install 4 separate plugins (WPML Multilingual CMS, String Translation, Translation Management, and Media Translations).

After you install WPML multilingual CMS to prepare your site for translation, you still need to go through the setup wizard for the other three plugins. Each of these plugins have a handful of tasks you need to complete before you’ve even translated one word.

So you might want to check out our alternative: Weglot.

An Alternative to Polylang and WPML: Weglot’s All-in-One Translation Software

The big difference between Weglot and these other two WordPress translation plugins is that you can use Weglot to quickly and accurately translate your entire site without making any manual translations at all.  

Weglot’s translation software uses translation services from leading providers, including DeepL, Google Translate, Microsoft Translate, and more.

By using all of the leading translation providers, Weglot can quickly and accurately translate your entire WordPress website following best practices. Your website will be translated in a matter of minutes, and most of our customers never make edits to their translations.

But Weglot’s features don’t stop with machine translation, you also get:

  • A translation management platform where you can manage/edit all of your translations. You can also order professional translation services directly through your Weglot Dashboard, which is perfect for teams that don’t have translators.
  • Automatic new content detection. When you add content to your original site—or revise existing content—Weglot will automatically update your translated sites.
  • Multilingual SEO. Weglot comes with features that help your translated sites rank in front of the right audience.
Weglot's interactive demo

More a visual learner? Watch our video guide on translating your WordPress site with Weglot:

Otherwise, below we provide a step-by-step guide on how you can translate your website with Weglot.

Step #1: Add the Weglot WordPress Plugin to Your Site

Before we go into how to set up Weglot with WordPress, a quick FYI: Weglot is a translation plugin that works with any website (WooCommerce, Shopify, SquareSpace, etc.), but for this post, we take a closer look at how you can make your WordPress site multilingual, making it a great alternative to plugins like Polylang and WPML.

You’ll find the Weglot plugin with all the other WordPress plugins. Just type in Weglot (we’re the first plugin that pops up).

Add Weglot plugin

Once our plugin is installed and activated, you’ll see a Weglot tab added to your sidebar.

Step #2: Link Your Weglot Account to Your WordPress Site

Next, you’ll click on the Weglot tab in the sidebar. From there, you can go to Weglot.com to set up your account.

We have several plans for all types of projects, including a free plan for smaller sites. After you set up your Weglot account, enter your API key into Weglot’s main configuration screen.

Weglot WordPress Configuration
Weglot WordPress Configuration

You then put in your original language (the language your site is currently in) and your destination languages (the languages you want your site translated into).

Weglot can translate your site into over 100 different languages, including more difficult, right-to-left languages like Hebrew and Arabic.

Step #3: You Can Customize Your Translations (Optional)

After picking all your destination languages, Weglot will instantly translate your entire site.

Weglot also automatically makes a unique URL slug for your translated site

You can easily access all of your translations from one dashboard.

Translations list

You can find specific words or look up specific URLs. Plus, it’s easy to make edits.

How to edit your translations

You can also use our visual editor (a great feature to ensure your translated copy looks good with your site’s design and layout).

Visual Editor

Changes are automatically saved to your site.

You can customize which parts of your site get translated, even picking which specific words you do not want translated.  For example, you may not want to translate popular phrases in your industry, like Scrum, Slack, or Daily Standup.

Get a user-friendly way to customize which parts of your site get translated

With Weglot, you can also:

  • Order professional translation services
  • Customize your site’s language switcher
  • Include Google’s multilingual SEO best practices

Order Professional Translation Services Through Weglot

Only about ⅓ of our customers make edits to their translated sites, but how much they edit varies greatly. Many of these customers have their own translator or translation team available.

But for businesses that don’t have translators ready to go, we offer professional translation services through the Weglot Dashboard.

Simply select the parts of your site you want to be reviewed by a professional translator. The translator receives your content and translates it. Their translation is immediately available for your review, and once you’ve approved it, Weglot will automatically update your website for you.

Customize How Users Toggle Between Languages

Weglot helps translate your site with multilingual SEO in mind so the right people find your translated site. But we also give your users the freedom to toggle between languages when they’re on your site.

In your WordPress account, you can choose how your language switcher is displayed. For example, you select whether it’s a drop-down box, flags, and more.

Weglot WordPress Language Design
Weglot WordPress Language Design

But you can also turn on “Auto Switch.” This automatically redirects visitors to the translated version of your site that matches their browser language.

Auto switch is an easy way to get your visitor to the right site

This significantly lowers a site’s bounce-off rate. If someone comes to your site and it’s in a language they don’t understand, they might not stick around to try and find another version. But our Auto Switch feature will send them directly to the translated version that they can navigate.

Plus, Weglot Helps Your Translated Site with SEO

Weglot translates your site according to Google’s multilingual SEO best practices. This includes:

  • Creating a separate URL for each translated site (known as a subdirectory or subdomain). For example, our main site is weglot.com, but our German site is weglot.com/de/.
  • Adding tags in your source code that tells Google you have translated versions of your site available.
  • Translating your site’s SEO tags and SEO metadata.

These features make it more likely that your translated site will show up in the right search engine for the right audience.

Polylang vs. WPML (vs. Weglot): A Quick Recap

In this post, we looked at three popular tools to turn your WordPress site into a multilingual website:

  • Polylang: Polylang and Polylang Pro help you manually translate your WordPress site. Polylang allows you to display a multilingual WordPress website, but you’ll need your own translation team ready to provide the translations, or you’ll have to purchase an add-on plugin to handle this.
  • WPML: WPML lets you use machine translation to translate your site. However, you still need to manually pick each page/post that you want translated. And WPML still recommends you personally review each translation before pushing it live.
  • Weglot: Weglot will automatically translate your entire site. You simply connect Weglot to your WordPress site, and it starts translating. And we use translation services from leading providers (including DeepL, Google Translate, and more) that are so reliable that only about ⅓ of our customers ever make any changes to their translated content.

To see how easy it is to translate your site with Weglot, start your free trial today.

For more information on translating your site, check out these posts:

In this guide, we're going to look into:

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