English is the most common language on the web, but that doesn’t mean businesses can afford to ignore other languages, especially if they intend to sell products or provide services to international customers. The web is a global communication network, and although it’s easy for people who live in the US to assume everyone is happy with English, that’s not true even in the US, where many speak Spanish as a first or second language.
Further afield in Europe, Asia, and Africa, there’s no guarantee English is spoken. And, even if English is spoken by many people in a business’s target demographic — as is true in Western Europe — the evidence shows that most people prefer to do business with sites that provide content in their native language.
If you intend to sell in areas where English isn’t widely spoken as a first language, it makes sense to translate at least some of the content and interface text on your WordPress site.
Once upon a time, translating a site was a complex and expensive proposition, but with a combination of modern technology, a translation-friendly CMS like WordPress, and cloud translation platforms, translation is within the reach of most site owners.
Machine translation is an obvious option, but site owners should take care if they decide to rely exclusively on machine translation, especially if they can’t show the translation to a native speaker of the target language. In some cases, machine translation produces accurate results of a quality that can be used on a business site. But there is plenty of room for things to go wrong: ridiculous, offensive, or just plain bad translations are not unusual, especially for idiomatic language use and for languages that aren’t well covered by machine translation corpuses.
Fortunately, for WordPress users, there are several plugins that make it easier to translate content. I’d like to take a closer look at one of these, Weglot. Weglot is a translation service with a WordPress plugin that simplifies the building of multi-lingual websites.
Weglot provides widgets that can transform a monolingual site into a multi-lingual site, allowing a site’s users to choose their preferred language. It works across all parts of a WordPress site, including content, menus, widgets, and other site components. And, importantly, it creates SEO-friendly web pages in the target language with appropriate permalinks and HTML markup.
But the most impressive part of Weglot is its translation capabilities. By default, Weglot uses advanced machine translation to convert text between languages. Site owners can edit the translations before they go live. Using machine translation in Weglot, it only takes a few minutes to translate a site, but, as I’ve already mentioned, machine translation isn’t always reliable. For important web pages or for pages where machine translation doesn’t produce satisfactory results, Weglot allows site owners to order professional translations by native speakers in the same interface. With a combination of machine translation and professional translation, it’s possible to create a multi-lingual WordPress site in next to no time.
Creating a multi-lingual site used to be out of the reach of many businesses and publishers, but with a modern CMS like WordPress and translation service like Weglot, it can be fast, easy, and inexpensive.