Multilingual WordPress Setup

Multilingual WordPress is awesome

I love WordPress, because you can do a lot of different things with it. It’s no longer a blogging platform but one of the strongest CMS. Especially with the huge amount of Plug-Ins.

Today I want to write a little bit about how you can achieve a multilingual blog or site with WordPress just by using free plugins and functions.

Requirements / Plug-ins

WordPress Multisite

WordPress multisite is a feature build into WordPress. You just have to activate it. The link above describes how to do it.

I advice naming the new sites according to your language as seen below in the screenshot.

Keep in mind multisite sets up independent sites. The advantage lies in a much cleaner structure and organization of your sites. Nevertheless the disadvantage is that you have to manage multiple sites.

Also choose whether you want to go with subdomains or directories. For this article I am using sub-directories (x.com/SUBDIRECTORY)

Wordpress Multisite Tutorial
WordPress Multisite Different Sites

Create one additional site – Language Redirect

Just to give you a quick example:
If you were to create a site that should be bilingual , German and English, create a third site and call it however you want to (preferably” language redirect” just to keep it clean).

This will be your main site and the simple reason for this is that it will be used to redirect your users according to their language either to the first or the second language.

Language Redirect Plugin should only be activated at the language redirection site. Disable it on the other sites (en / de / … )

The plugin requires you to do set it up. It’s easy and self explanatory. But here is an example:

WordPress Language Redirect settings
WordPress Language Redirect settings

The above screenshot shows a bilingual setup where users with no set language will be redirected to the English site and language defined ones will be redirected to the German site.

The redirection plug-in uses a certain syntax language-shortcode=/directory/  (de=/de/ , fr=/fr/ …)

Multisite Language Switcher

After you have setup your multisite and installed the language redirect plugin you are ready to install Multisite Language Switcher on your network and enable it.

Multisite Language Switcher gives you a variety of options to customize the way your language changer is going to look like.

multisite language redirect options
multisite language redirect options

Make sure to disable the Multisite Language Switcher plugin on your redirection site ! 

Including the flags into your template only takes a single line of code.

<?php if ( function_exists( 'the_msls' ) ) the_msls(); ?>

The Multisite Language Switcher plug-in requires you to link your posts. This is going to help the system understand the connections between each post.
If you don’t link them (for instance of a post missing for the other language) it will automatically redirect the user to the index of the selected language.

WordPress Multi Language Switcher linking posts
WordPress Multi Language Switcher linking posts

Advantages vs Disadvantages

Of course this solution has it’s advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s start with the disadvantages. 

  • Media Library is separated:
    This means that you have to upload Featured Images or such images that can’t be linked directly, twice.
  • Post Linking:
    The Post linking can become very annoying and troublesome after a certain amount of posts.
  • Setup and Maintenance:
    Since you are having independent sites you have to do updates separately. While the multisite feature is going to help you with this , it should still be noted.

What are the advantages then ?

  • Independent Sites:
    It may be a disadvantage having to maintenance more sites but at the same time you are free to modify the behavior of your sites. That way you could have different slider images for your international as well as native visitors.
  • Content Selection:
    If you don’t want to display a specific post in another language it won’t be displayed on that languages site. This could be helpful for promotions.
  • Manual Content Creation:
    Unlike other plug-ins that allow you to have your site translated by a robot you create the content yourself. This may be more work but it is going to guarantee you quality content.
  • It’s Free:
    Yeap, you don’t pay a single dime for any of the plug-ins. Only thing you have to care for is your hosting / domain name.

Who is this method for ?

I would say smaller sites with a lot of static pages are going to love this.

But if you run a blog with daily updates or a rather active site you should think about getting WPML. I am not going into detail about WPML in this article, but let’s say it like this: It is the leading plug-in for multilingual sites for a reason. It just works beautifully.

A site for your reference using this method is Taylan. Check it out at this link.