Translating your WordPress website has numerous benefits for marketing, SEO, and reaching your differently-speaking target audiences around the world. But it’s not an easy task—from setting a budget to managing translators and dealing with software, organizing a large translation project can be a serious challenge.
To make sure your project runs smoothly, you need a plan. This article will help you formulate one. We’ll take a look at everything from budget components and team planning to SEO considerations and translation management tools.
Planning Your WordPress Translation Project
Before thinking about specifics, such as which WordPress translation plugin to use, it’s worth putting some time aside to create an organized plan for your multilingual WordPress project.
Creating a Master Plan
A translation project is a big endeavor and multiple factors need to be considered, such as team composition, workflows, quality assurance, and future processes for on-going translation.
However, as with any major business investment, one of the first questions to consider is how large of a budget should you allocate?
Step 1: Setting a Translation Budget
Once you’ve decided to translate your website, you’ll have to set a realistic budget. There are three high-level elements to consider: how will you translate your website, how much of it, and in how many languages.
Machine translation vs. human translation
There are a number of machine translation software options on the market. While machine translation can save you money and time in the short term, human translation is worth the investment if you’re looking for higher-quality work. Human translators can capture the nuances of natural language and culture in a way that’s difficult for machines to achieve.
Translation costs can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, so it’s worth researching what the going rates are for your desired language pair and project specifics.
Scope of the translation
Simply translating your main web copy is insufficient for offering a localized experience to different-speaking users. Things such as blogs posts, support documentation, and standard marketing emails (e.g. transactional emails) all contribute towards a holistic user experience and, if possible, should be translated as well, which will add to the total cost.
Furthermore, translation is unlikely to be a once-off project. New posts and updates will require on-going translation and will also impact your budget.
Number of languages
Last, but by no means least, a major cost-defining component of your budget is the number of languages you need your website translated into.
Separate planning must be done for each language, as costs vary wildly between different language pairs. That said, translating into multiple languages in one go can help cut back on some managerial costs.
Step 2: Hiring Translators and Collaborating with a Team
Having allocated a budget for your WordPress localization project, it’s now time to put together a team.
If you already have experience with translation (for example, if you’re selling a multilingual product), you may already have qualified translators on staff. Otherwise, you’ll need to hire external translators. You can do this through a translation agency or through an industry website like ProZ.
Before beginning the project, you’ll want to decide how many translators are needed for the volume of work at hand. If you foresee the need for translators to collaborate with other professionals such as web designers or developers, this is also something you’ll want to define beforehand.
Defining Roles Within the Team
When putting together a team internally, you’ll need to decide who will be the project lead and what they will be responsible for. Typically, the project lead is responsible for managing the translators, as well as ensuring the project is delivered on time and stays within budget.
It’s important to structure the translation team in a way that makes sense for your project. If you are using freelance translators, you may need someone to manage them according to their rates and availability, whereas for in-house teams, each team member should have clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
Step 3: Quality Assurance
Your website has a personality. It’s important not to lose it in translation and ensure that the translated versions of your multilingual WordPress website are as good as the original version.
To ensure you get quality translations right from the beginning, your translators will need to know what is expected of them. For this reason, you should provide them with a clear brief and a style guide if possible. You’ll want to make sure that regional variations, terminology, style, and tone are consistent throughout your website.
Context in Translation
One important factor to consider when briefing translators is context. To obtain the best results, translation managers should provide their translators with situational context (such as the necessary tone and formality), communicative context (how phrases will be used within the greater content narrative), and visual context (where the translated strings will appear within the UI).
Editing and Revisions
Once your translators have finished working, it’s essential to run the results by a dedicated editor – someone who you trust to put a stamp of approval on the translations or who can specify to the translators what edits and revisions are required.
If possible, try to avoid “translation by committee” (similar to “writing by committee” or “design by committee”)—a phenomenon where creative work is passed around to a large number of people. Instead, opt for an organized process, where just one or two designated stakeholders are responsible for reviewing, editing, and approving translations in any given language. Having dedicated editors will help produce a cohesive result.
Step 4: Continuous Translation Processes
Of course, translation isn’t a one-off project—every time new content is added to your WordPress website, it will need to be translated as well.
Rather than doing these continuous translation updates manually, you may want to consider seeking out a software solution to automate the process. This can help you both save time and resources, as well as lower the probability of human error.
SEO Considerations for WordPress Localization
There’s more to website translation than just taking website copy in one language and re-publishing it into another language. With organic traffic being the lifeblood of the internet, here are some important SEO elements that must be taken into consideration to ensure your translated website is discoverable.
Translating SEO Content
When it comes to SEO for translations, the most basic thing that needs to be done and one that is often forgotten is the translation of such SEO elements as title tags, meta descriptions, image titles, and ALT texts. So make sure to have that on your checklist.
Plus, there’s more to translating SEO content than just translating the text. You may need to do new keyword research in the languages you plan to translate to. Don’t assume that keywords in one language will have the same search volume in another language, as this isn’t always true.
For SEO purposes, it makes sense in some cases to translate the URLs of your web pages into the target language. You should also consider which multilingual website structure to use for the different language websites: separate domains, subdomains, or sub-directories. Here is what each of these options looks like:
1) Separate domains
To make sure that search engines like Google and Yandex show visitors the correct version of your website, e.g. the Spanish version to users from Spain and the Japanese version to users from Japan, it’s important to use hreflang tags. These tags tell the search engine which language a page is in and implementing them is considered best practice for multilingual WordPress sites.
Why Use a Translation Management System with a WordPress Integration?
One way to streamline your WordPress localization project is by using a Translation Management System (TMS). Software such as Lokalise integrates seamlessly with WordPress and allows you to manage your project in a centralized and efficient manner.
Centralized Approach for All Translation Projects
To ensure a localized experience for differently-speaking audiences, it’s not enough to translate your main website. Support documentation, blog posts, and product UI, among other things, should also be part of your translation project. As such, it’s typical for teams to get bogged down in countless spreadsheets, documents, and email threads, which not only makes the whole process incredibly inefficient, but there’s also a risk of ending up with inconsistent translations.
Inconsistencies in translation (like using synonyms or different regional variations of certain words) can leave users feeling alienated or confused. Centralizing translations can save time and ultimately provide a better user experience. With a TMS, you can centralize translations and create a smooth workflow, avoiding the confusion of using multiple communication methods (like emails and spreadsheets).
With Lokalise’s WordPress integration, translators can push content from the TMS directly to WordPress, and new content from WordPress is automatically added to the TMS. This makes transferring content between the two systems easy and simple.
Easier WordPress Translation Management
The main advantage of using a TMS is that it can make it easier to manage translation projects.
On larger projects, translation managers may have a significant number of translators to manage. In these cases, it can be useful to be able to assign roles and organize users into groups within the TMS.
In addition, some systems can be integrated with productivity tools. Many workspaces use communication and project management tools like Slack, Jira, Trello, or Asana. Using a TMS that integrates directly with these tools can save time, and make sure all team members know what they should be working on.
Better QA and an Improved Final Product
Finally, TMS systems offer tools that can improve the quality and speed of translations. In the case of Lokalise, these include machine translation, translation memory, glossaries, and quality assurance tools like spelling and grammar checks.
Talented human translators can still benefit from the assistance of automated translation tools. When it comes to large projects, even the most detail-oriented translator can end up making honest mistakes. Quality tools help with maintaining consistency in vocabulary and tone, as well as understanding context.
Conclusion: WordPress Localization Made Smooth
The sheer breadth of a WordPress localization project can feel intimidating at first, however, a systematic approach paired with the right tools makes the whole process smooth and easily manageable.
The quality of the result depends on your team and their ability to cooperate efficiently and productively. So make sure to clearly define roles and responsibilities and ensure everyone’s always on the same page with an easy-to-use TMS with a WordPress integration. This will help keep your project on-track and on-budget.
Account Executive at Lokalise
Norbert is one of the first Lokalisers and founding members of our sales team. He has helped many first-timers with navigating the localization topic to make sure they are able to achieve their desired goals as efficiently as possible. Outside of Lokalise, he enjoys films, literature, and following the market.