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How to Translate Your WordPress Website Using the Polylang Plugin

There are a variety of WordPress plugins that you can use to translate your website (some better than others).

Today we are going over the FREE translator plugin called Polylang.

I really like the WPML plugin but it is a premium plugin that cost money. It’s great because it’s seamless and takes very little effort. The problem with it is that you need to make sure your WordPress website theme is compatible with the WordPress multi-language plugin.

Since we’re all about saving money. I want to give you an alternative to a premium plugin. So today I’m going to walk you through how to use the Polylang wordpress plugin to translate your website. And you’ll be happy to know this is a FREE plugin.  But it does require a little more work.

Step 1: Download and Activate the Polylang Plugin

  1. This is pretty straight forward. Go to your dashboard > Plugins > click Add new and search for Polylang
  2. Click Install and then click Activate

Step 2: Go to Settings for the Polylang Plugin

  1. Go to the plugins page if you are not already there
  2. Find the Polylang plugin
  3. Click on Settings

Step 3: Add Your First Language (English)

  1. Once you’re on the settings page, the first thing you want to do is choose a language in the drop down box that says “Choose a Language (under the Language tab).
  2. Choose English – this is our default language
  3. Then go to the bottom of the page and click the button that says Add New Language

Step 4: Go to the Settings tab and make some modifications

Now that the first language is saved (don’t worry, we’ll be adding a second language in a few minutes), now go to the settings tab at the top

  1. At the top, you will see a section that says “Default language”
  2. In that section, click on the box that says ” There are posts, pages, categories or tags without language set. Do you want to set them all to default language”
  3. You don’t have to do this but I check the box that says “Hide URL language information for default language”
  4. Now just make sure the section that says “Custom Post Types” has all the boxes checked
  5. Make sure the boxes under Synchronization is blank
  6. Click Save

Step 5: Add a Second Language

Now that we have the English language. Let’s add a second language.

  1. Go back to the Language tab
  2. Select the language you want in the drop down menu again (we will use Spanish in our example)
  3. Click on the button at the bottom of the page that says Add New Language
  4. No need to add settings again since you did that before

Step 6: Modify Front Page and Header in Second Language

  1. Now that we’ve selected a second language to translate our website in we are going to edit the front page and slider so it is in our new language.
  2. The first thing you have to do is go to your homepage and click to edit it
  3. On your edit homepage, on the right side you will now see a “Languages” box with your default language as well as a + and a box next to it
  4. In order to translate this page, you need to click on the + next to the language you want to translate. This will create a “copy” of the page you want to use for your second language
  5. Once you see the “new copy” of your homepage/front page pop up. You can save it as a different page name. We will use Spanish Homepage for this example
  6. After you’ve typed in the page name you can click Publish
  7. Now we will translate our front page slider text.
  8. Now what you want to do is go to your dashboard and on the left hand side go down to Settings and click on Languages or go back to your language plugin.
  9. Once you’re on your Polylang settings page, click on the String Translation tab
  10. Now you will see different translation boxes for your different languages. You need to put in the correct translation for each string of words or phrases other than the english one
  11. So for our example, in the Spanish box we will type in the translation of the words we are writing in english
  12. Click save and check out your homepage
  13. Now you might need to clear your cache before you see the changes. But the changes will be there 🙂

Step 7: Translating Your Other Pages and Post

I want you to translate your other pages before you translate the rest of your homepage because we need some URLs to the translated pages.

Because this is a FREE translation plugin, there is some manual work. To translate your other pages and post, you need to go to each page and click the + button next to the language to make a copy of the page and then translate it yourself.

Once you’ve translated all your pages and posts, you are good to go 🙂

Step 8: Translate The Rest of the Sections of Your Homepage

  1. Go to your dashboard
  2. Go to your services section and view all your current service items
  3. Click edit for the first service item
  4. On the edit page, on the right side there is a Languages box. Click on the + button next to the flag for your second language. This will create a copy of your service item
  5. Now you want to put in a text title for the new language. Same with the description.
  6. Click publish when you’re done.

*Repeat steps for all of your service items*

If you go to your homepage, you will see the new service items if your second language if you’re on the second language homepage (I hope this isn’t confusing).

We need to change the title of the row now from English to our other language

  1. Click on edit homepage (this will edit the “Spanish” version of the homepage)
  2. Go to the row you are editing (service row)
  3. Click edit
  4. Change the title of the row from English to the Spanish translation (or whatever language you are translating)
  5. Click save

Click Publish/Update for the page

*Repeat these steps for all your other rows on your homepage*

Step 9: Create Custom Menus with Flags for different languages/countries

  1. Go to your Dashboard > hover over Appearance on the left hand site > then click on Menus
  2. On the menu page, click the link near the top of the page that says Create New Menu
  3. Label your new menu as “English Menu” and click the blue Save Menu button
  4. Now you want to add some custom links and pages to your header menu
  5. After you’ve added your menu items, go to the top to the tab that says “Language Switcher’
  6. Click Add Language Switcher button
  7. Now you should see a box in your menu section. If you expand that, you can select the box that says “Display flags” for your languages
  8. At the bottom of the menu section, click on the box that says “Primary English Menu”

Now we need to create a new menu (again)

  1. On the menu page, click the link near the top of the page that says Create New Menu
  2. Label your new menu as “Spanish Menu” (or whatever language you want to translate to) and click the blue Save Menu button
  3. Now you want to add some custom links and pages to your header menu
  4. After you’ve added your menu items, go to the top to the tab that says “Language Switcher’
  5. Click Add Language Switcher button
  6. Now you should see a box in your menu section. If you expand that, you can select the box that says “Display flags” for your languages
  7. At the bottom of the menu section, click on the box that says “Primary Spanish Menu”

Once you’ve saved everything, you can go to your homepage and now you should see your header menu links as well as flags to switch the language translations of the site.

*Make sure your secondary language link titles are in the new language*

Now your website should now be translated in your new language or languages using the Polylang plugin.

Please note that I know this works for the Sydney theme that I have created a WordPress tutorial for. I do not know if it works on every other theme. This tutorial was made specifically for the Sydney theme.

I will be posting a new tutorial on a premium WordPress plugin called WPML (WordPress Multi-language plugin), which may be easier to use and require less steps than this. (to come…if it’s up, that means I didn’t update this page but I put up the new tutorial).

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or post a question on the Youtube video that supports this text tutorial (Youtube comments usually get answered first since the channel is checked more often than the website). 

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