How Do I Make My Enterprise WordPress Site Multilingual?

Learn how to localize your site content.

WordPress VIP makes localization for enterprise sites easier than most CMSes. Though the process of localization can be complicated, it comes with numerous benefits to both you and your audience. So, if you want to know how to make your site localized (and therefore multilingual), you’ve come to the right place. 

Benefits of a multilingual, localized site

Offering personalized site content, tailored to specific languages and cultures, is well worth the investment. With a multilingual site, you’ll likely experience the following benefits:

  • Improved customer experience and user experience (CX/UX), resulting in more conversions
  • Expansion to new audiences and markets
  • Better SEO performance and ranking
  • More accurate audience targeting

What is the difference between localization and personalization? 

Simply put, personalization is an all-encompassing term for everything that goes into creating a unique, custom content experience for your audience. This may include offering multiple languages, updating languages to fit a specific region, targeting content by demographic, etc.

Localization is an important part of personalization. Localization is the process of tailoring content by locale or region. It often involves translating content and internationalizing the CX/UX.

Localization options for enterprise WordPress

While you can manually translate and publish multiple languages on a single-site instance (or use a custom API), hosting each language on its own site within a multisite instance is recommended. 

Comparing single-site and multisite solutions

WordPress single site localization solutionsWordPress multisite localization solutions
Workaround solution(s) that can add complexity to WordPress core architectureBuilt around WordPress Core using the multisite feature (no workaround plugins)
Easy to set up on an existing site, just requires a pluginRequires additional time to launch additional sites, but offers greater flexibility
Scalable, but incurs performance issues maintaining complex relationships on a single siteHigh scalability and performance
Translated content on same URLTranslated content offers different URL and localization possibilities
Every language version uses the same design and widgetsFull design and widget customizability for individual languages and cultures
Plugins and themes require translation tool compatibilityPlugins and themes are administered on a network level for every site
Hard to migrate and each solution is unique to the vendorNo vendor lock-in because it follows WordPress multisite core conventions
Each language must be backed upStores each site’s data in a single backup
Every user has access to every language, even if it isn’t neededControl user access per language and/or automatically route with geo-targeting

Both single- site and multisite solutions have benefits. But for enterprises, a multisite solution is the clear winner based on the flexibility and scalability it provides.

“The technology in WordPress and Woo has been simple, configurable. We could spin up into another [international] market probably within a matter of hours…”

Adrian Goodman, Global Digital Product Owner,

WordPress VIP has technology partners to help you translate and localize your site with ease. MultilingualPress and Weglot are especially popular with our customers.

Must-have multilingual site features

There are three main features necessary for a multilingual site to be successful.

  1. Geolocation detection 

This is done automatically through various WordPress plugins. Geolocation detection pinpoints where the user is geographically and enables personalization for languages and content based on that location.

  1. Subdomains and/or subdirectories 

Using a subdomain or a subdirectory helps map domains for a multisite setup. Enabling subdomains/subdirectories for a multilingual site offers additional flexibility for themes, content, etc., and provides a more personalized and localized CX/UX. 

  1. Automated or machine translations

Automatic translations, done via machine learning or artificial intelligence (ML/AI), are sometimes less accurate but save time and enhance editorial workflows—especially for small content teams. There are numerous plugins and APIs available with WordPress VIP.

How to localize your enterprise site on WordPress VIP

Each localization process looks different based on the size and scope of the project, but there are a few common threads.

Single site instance localization

  1. Install translation or multilingual plugin(s), or manually translate and add content
  2. Assign custom post types and taxonomies per language or region
  3. Assign custom permissions for user access to specific languages or regions

Multisite instance localization

  1. Begin a multisite launch
  2. Install multisite or migrate to a multisite instance
  3. Launch a new network site in the existing multisite for each language
  4. Install and activate multilingual plugin of choice
  5. Review restriction methods for unlaunched content/translated sites under development 
  6. Map new language domains
  7. Assign user permissions based on network sites

The complete guide to localization on WordPress

Want more details? Check out our Guide to Enterprise WordPress Localization and schedule a demo today.

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