Obviously since Level343 specializes in International SEO and SEO copywriting, we often face the challenge of supplying site owners with multilingual content. Each business has different requirements, so the technical implementation will vary as needed. However, many businesses are now using WordPress as their CMS of choice, so we want to share our thoughts on some best practices and considerations when creating multilingual content on your WordPress site.
AUTOMATED TRANSLATION VS. MANUAL TRANSLATION?
If you’ve ever used an automated tool such as Google Translate to read a piece of content written in a language you don’t understand, you’ll know that automated translators produce very poor – and sometimes completely erroneous – translations. Sure, they come in handy in a pinch, but a serious business should never provide such poor quality content on their sites. We’ve discussed before about using automated translations, and how users will be turned off when they read the garbage that is produced by such tools, and they will look elsewhere for content that makes sense.
We’ve warned you in the past about being careful to choose the right SEO company for the job, and to watch out for those SEO companies that “make do” with automated translation software, so we’ll simply reiterate what we’ve already mentioned. The convenience of using automated translation tools is far outweighed by the substandard garbage they output on your site. You wouldn’t hire a six-year-old to write your business site’s content, would you? By the same token, you shouldn’t rely on translation software that churns out content that’s often worse than a grade school child would write.
Yes, manually translating content is time-consuming and requires translators who speak each language fluently (preferably as their native language). Of course, we recommend that you hire a team of multilingual professionals with a solid background in writing optimized content that is compelling and is designed to convert. This strategy is a wise investment that will reap both immediate and long-term benefits in the form of increased traffic, happy users, and content that converts time and time again.
WILL TRANSLATED CONTENT CAUSE A DUPLICATE CONTENT OR PANDA PENALTY?
The short answer is no, translated content will not cause a Panda penalty (or be filtered out as duplicate content). However, automated translated content can be considered low-quality spam, so once again, it’s important to have a hand-vetted manual translation for your content if you want to avoid a spam penalty. Here’s a video by Google’s Matt Cutts that specifically addresses this question.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CREATE MULTILINGUAL CONTENT USING WORDPRESS?
With the understanding that your site should provide high-quality manual translations that will please both users and search engines, it’s time to focus on the best ways to create and manage this content.
The first thing we recommend for WordPress-based sites (self-hosted only) is to make use of WordPress’s built-in Multisite option. The multisite feature provides the ability to create a network of sites/blogs within one WordPress installation. Each “site” within the network will be independently dedicated to a particular language, but they will all share some commonalities. Administration is simplified as you work within one admin backend and the ability to share plugins and themes. This, then, forms the basic structure of your multi language site, but there is an additional tool we suggest that will make the job of managing the content much easier.
Multilingual Press WordPress Plugin is a powerful tool that helps manage your multi-language site. The biggest advantage to using this plugin is that when you write a post or page in one language, the plugin automatically creates a duplicate of the post/page in each of the other other language-specific blogs in the network – and places those duplicates in Draft Mode. Each of these duplicates is automatically interlinked to each other as well. By placing them in draft mode, you have the chance to manually translate each before publishing them. It’s a simple process to switch back and forth from a post’s editor screen as you translate each one.
This plugin is free, but you should seriously consider opting for the Pro version instead ($75). A few of the benefits of the pro version include:
- Ability to detect browser language and optionally forward to the correct language site automatically
- On the front end, a cookie stores which language a user selects
- Provides a global media library for all sites/blogs for convenience (instead of having to re-upload images and media for each individual language site)
- Dashboard widget in the main admin area lets you know which posts still need to be translated
Although working with a WordPress multsite network and a plugin as complex as the Multilingual Press plugin can require a bit of a learning curve, the time it saves and the results gained are well worth the minimal investment of time and money involved.
ARE THERE ALTERNATIVE MULTILANGUAGE PLUGINS I CAN USE?
Multilingual Press is not the only choice if you are looking to create multilanguage WordPress sites. You could simply use WordPress’s multisite feature and manually manage each independently, although that adds a fair amount of overhead to the process. There are other plugins you may want to consider as well, including the popular WPML plugin and the more basic Multisite Language Switcher which allows you to manage the relationships between posts and their translations. A host of other plugins are also available, but you’ll find these to be among the best and most popular.
Do you have any questions or comments? Let us know below. If you’d like to discuss how Level343 can help turn your business website into a professional, multilingual and international site, contact us today. We’re happy to help!
(Editors Notes Updates ) – Please be advised that the Mulilingual Press has been updated with the following functions.
– Create new blogs based on any other blog as a full copy, including active plugins, theme options, widgets and theme
– Reconnect existing posts of any post type
– A very unique language management with 174 editable languages
You can find more information here