WordPress Translation plugin

Following on from my last post about translating your website, Dennis alerted me to the fact that there are WordPress plugins to do this too. Well, I don’t know why I didn’t think of that – I haven’t yet been able to think up a desirable bit of functionality that isn’t contained in a plugin – why should website translation be any different!

Sure enough, a quick search turned up several candidates. The Global Translator plugin looked the best, so I went right ahead and installed it – it’s those bunch of flags near the top of my sidebar.

country flags

From what I’ve seen so far, this plugin has the following benefits over using the plain Google widget:

  • Translation occurs at the site level

    What I mean by that is that once you select a language, any other pages from the site will be shown to you in the same language (as opposed to the widget approach where you have to translate each page individually). This makes for a much more seamless user experience.

  • Choice of translation service

    The plugin currently supports four translation services: Google Translation Engine, Babel Fish, Promt and FreeTranslations.com. Which one you use is completely up to you, and invisible to your site visitors. So if one isn’t giving you the results you need, you can switch to a different one in the background without a problem.

  • Translated pages are cached

    Translated versions of your pages and posts are stored locally within your site, from where they can be served directly to visitors without having to be re-translated with each request. For medium- to high-traffic sites this drastically reduces the load on the translation service, which is to your benefit because if you make too many requests to these services you risk being banned – this is certainly the case with the Google service; I’m not sure about the others.

  • The cache is non-intrusive

    Cached pages are created in ordinary files, not in your database. To be honest, I can’t see that it would be a problem if they were in the database – most other plugins don’t have any such qualms – but there you go. And before you start worrying about how much space this is going to consume, relax – there is an option to compress the cache, which seems to work just fine.

  • Automatic locale-specific URLs

    The plugin automatically inserts specific language codes into the URLs of your translated pages. So, for example the German version of a post becomes http://some-domain.com/de/the-url, the Dutch becomes http://some-domain.com/nl/the-url, etc. An interesting question is how these are handled by the search engine bots, and whether these translated pages will start to show up in other-locale versions of Google etc? I’m speculating a little bit here, but because the URL is unique for each language-version of the page, I think they will be viewed (and thus indexed) as seperate pages. And because they’re in different languages, they will not be regarded as duplicate content. If this is the case, it seems to me like a great way of attracting more search traffic – you can bet I’ll be watching my stats over the next couple of weeks to see if this is indeed the case!

  • Aesthetics

    This is pure personal taste, but I prefer the look of the flags to the Google widget, and you also have more control over how they’re displayed.

Banned for excessive numbers of requests

I’ve seen various references around and about to the translation services banning different sites because of making too many (or too frequent) requests. I believe this issue has been resolved in the Global Translator plugin by building in a configurable throttle setting to prevent this from happening (this is also where the cache comes into its own). Because of this though, don’t expect your entire site to be indexed immediately. With a 5-minute delay between requests (the default), it’s going to take a few days for most average-size sites to be translated into all 30-odd languages that are available.


All-in-all this looks like a nifty bit of code, so hats off to the guys at Nothing2Hide for all the hard work. I for one am looking forward to seeing how it performs over the next few weeks.

Related posts:

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  4. WordPress Roles and Capabilities
  5. Translate your website

37 Responses to “WordPress Translation plugin”

  1. Gravatar of Barry Wise, NJ SEO 1 Barry Wise, NJ SEO

    Nice post, Rodney!
    It looks like a good plugin, and it certainly adds value for readers, but I would think the alternate language pages will be treated as duplicate content. Since Google’s service is doing the translation, it will probably figure out the pages are duplicates. That doesn’t mean they won’t appear in geo-specific queries (I haven’t tested that), it just means they won’t be treated as unique pages in the english index.

    They do create another problem, though. You’re going to bleed pagerank all over the place because you are creating duplicate content issues for your own site internally. Instead of one content page, now you’ve got over 2 dozen which are sharing link juice from the home page. I would probably suggest using nofollow tags on the foreign langauge links to keep your main english content pages more authoritative.

  2. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 2 Rodney Smith

    Barry: Thanks! I hadn’t considered the internal PR issue – will have to mull that over a bit. I do want the other language pages indexed, and currently there’s nothing else pointing at them, so need to resolve that. The plugin does integrate with the WP Sitemap plugin which I’m not currently using on this site, so that may be the solution.

  3. Gravatar of SEO Design 3 SEO Design

    This sounds like a good plugin. I am looking for one that I can use on a website that I am working on. For now I will certainly install this one on my blog. If you know of any that will allow me to translate aregular site, let me know. I want to avoid the costs of a translator. Of course if the quality is poor, I will go with a professional translator.

  4. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 4 Rodney Smith

    SEO Design: You’re never going to get as good results from an automatic translation as you will from a person who’s fluent in both languages. But translation is labour-intensive and costly, so most of us are stuck with automated results, the benefits of which are speed and cost. And to be honest, I think the results are probably adequate in most cases.
    By definition plugins only work with WordPress, but you could always use the Google widget (see http://www.hippowebsolutions.com/translate-your-website). The integration isn’t as good, but is the only other option I know of that’ll work with a general website.

  5. Gravatar of Dennis Edell 5 Dennis Edell

    Thanks for the link, just WATCH YOUR BANDWIDTH….big time.

  6. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 6 Rodney Smith

    Wow Dennis, way to get a blogger’s attention!

    What d’you reckon – this thing’s gonna eat it all up? Why?

  7. Gravatar of Dennis Edell 7 Dennis Edell

    LOL Like that eh?

    I don’t know exactly why, but I’ve been reading a lot about the fact that they do…I’d just keep an eye on stats.

  8. Gravatar of Antphilosophy.com 8 Antphilosophy.com

    I’m using this plugin at several of my sites and it is great. The translation quality is as you can expect from such a tool but it works and is “understandable” when translated to most of the major languages. When it comes to the minor languages it lacks a bit.

  9. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 9 Rodney Smith

    Antphilosophy: That’s pretty much my position too – thanks for confirming. I take it you haven’t experienced any of the negative side-effects that Dennis has mentioned then?

  10. Gravatar of Noni J 10 Noni J

    This translator plugin is a great tool to reach more people. I hope Languages such as Korean and Niponggo are included in the major list that Antphilosophy mentioned. I like listening to those foreign tongues and I’m interested to see how they look when written. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be hunting for this plugin right away. :)

  11. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 11 Rodney Smith

    Noni J: Korean certainly is, but I’ve never heard of Niponggo – where’s that spoken? By the way, no need to hunt for the plugin – the link’s right near the top of the post.

  12. Gravatar of Blog for Beginners 12 Blog for Beginners

    Translation plugin? Wow, never heard of it myself. Well, if there is truth to what Barry Wise said, I might have to give this a pass.


  13. Gravatar of Blog for Beginners 13 Blog for Beginners

    @Dennis: just WATCH YOUR BANDWIDTH….big time.

    Now it makes sense. What do ya say, Rod?

  14. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 14 Rodney Smith

    Yan: I don’t think Barry was saying the plugin was no good – the main point he made was about losing internal pagerank to the translated pages. I don’t think that’s too hard to overcome. And for now, that’s what I want, otherwise how else are they going to get crawled?

    Dennis was a bit vague on what the actual problem might be. So far I’ve seen somewhat of an increase in bandwidth consumption, but I’d expect that as the pages are submitted for translation, and would expect this to settle down soon. So far I haven’t seen anything to worry about, but you can be sure I’ll let you know if I do!

  15. Gravatar of Blog for Beginners 15 Blog for Beginners


    I’m now contemplating to put it right after my article to serve the need of those whose English is not their primary language. Let’s see how it turns out. Thanks for the heads up anyway.


  16. Gravatar of Diseño Web 16 Diseño Web

    not too nice to translate from spanish to english.
    is there some plugin for spanish translation?

  17. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 17 Rodney Smith

    Diseno: do you mean this plugin doesn’t translate spanish to english well? I wouldn’t know, not being a spanish speaker myself.
    It is possible to specify spanish as the base language your site’s written in, and offer english as one of the options to translate into, if that’s what you mean.

  18. Gravatar of Yiim 18 Yiim

    Nettes Plugin muss ich sagen. Doch leider sind mir die Übersetzungen zu ungenau. Doch ich denke für Artikel Übersetzungen geht es wenn man nun nicht einen 2 Seiten Arikel lesen muss ;)

  19. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 19 Rodney Smith

    Yiim: exactly – the translation isn’t perfect, but should be good enough to give a pretty good sense of what the article’s all about.

  20. Gravatar of Mikael 20 Mikael

    I’ve had this plugin installed on several of my blogs and even though it does a great job I’ve found that there are two things that is not so good about it:

    1) If you’re using Adsense on your blog you’ll find that the translated pages will show non-topic related ads which might put you in a situation where you could be smart priced by Google (and you definitely don’t want that).

    2) The translator doesn’t include your Google Analytics code in the cached pages which means that you can’t really monitor your true traffic and some of the stats will be messed up over time.

    For those two reasons I’ve uninstalled the plugin on all my blogs. But if you don’t use Adsense and you don’t use GA the tool works great.

  21. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 21 Rodney Smith

    Excellent contribution, Mikael. Those are two points that I hadn’t considered before. I must say, I’ve been pretty happy with the plugin up til now, but I’ll bear these in mind, especially the AdSense smart pricing problem.

  22. Gravatar of Mikael 22 Mikael

    Rodney, I actually discovered it by accident because I started to notice that my Adsense eCPM were dropping month by month and I couldn’t figure out what was happening. So after reading a lot of posts I came to the conclusion that it had to be that plugin since that was the only real change I had done to my sites.

    After uninstalling them I am now seeing the eCPM growing but I’m not quite at the point were I once were but hopefully everything will be restored in a couple of months.

  23. Gravatar of Vinterdekk 23 Vinterdekk

    Good point about the smart pricing issue.

    Another thing is the quality for the user. An automatic translation looks rather unprofessional.

  24. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 24 Rodney Smith

    Vinterdekk: I’m still undecided about Smart Pricing – I haven’t seen any evidence of it, but it is a concern. Do you have a perspective to add to this?

    I agree on the auto-translation issue; however when you compare the results to many (presumably) written directly in English, there’s not that much difference! Not that that makes it any better, mind you…

  25. Gravatar of Dennis Edell 25 Dennis Edell

    Hmm, has anyone using this plugin gotten comments in other languages?

  26. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 26 Rodney Smith

    Dennis: I have. Some have been spam, so it’s been easy to take care of them! The others, I generally tag a translation onto the end of the comment, for the benefit of my main English audience (and myself). Google translation has a nifty feature where they’ll even auto-detect the language for you, which is very helpful, cos it’s not always obvious (which is why you need translation in the first place!). Often these foreign language comments point to foreign language sites, so I use Google translation to get an idea of what the site is about too – to be able to filter out the spam and ppc-type stuff.

  27. Gravatar of Dennis Edell 27 Dennis Edell

    Nifty tool, thanks for the heads up. :)

  28. Gravatar of Clock Gadget 28 Clock Gadget

    Hi Mikael

    I noticed your comment in this tread about removing the translator because of smart pricing, but I couldn’t help but notice that you’ve added it back to your side bar.

    What made you decide to add it back?


  29. Gravatar of Mikael 29 Mikael

    Hi Mike,

    what site were you looking at? I’m pretty sure I’m not using it on any of my sites (but I might have missed one…). Thanks.


  30. Gravatar of Printable Coupons 30 Printable Coupons

    The translator sounds great plugin… nice information.. Thank you for sharing.. I’ll try it soon..

  31. Gravatar of roba leche 31 roba leche

    No importa que tantas formas o manera trates de que tu web o blog se pueda traducir, si utilizas palabras urbanas o frases ligadas al diario vivir.

    Si por ejemplo nos visita un arabe, y este se encuentra con un post acerca de noticias, es seguro que no dudara en salir, dado que usualmente hacemos la noticia mas amarillista posible con frases urbanas.

    Lo que pienso es que cada post que se crea, deben tener en cuenta las frases y palabras de modo que puedan ser traducidas por cualquier traductor a modo de que la oracion no pierda el sentido.

    No matter how many ways or try to make your website or blog can be translated, if you use words or phrases related to urban life.

    If for example we visited an Arab, and this is a post about news, it is certain that strives to leave, since that usually make the news more yellow with possible urban phrases.

    What I think is that every post you create, take into account the words and phrases so that they can be translated by a translator any way that the sentence did not lose consciousness.

  32. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 32 Rodney Smith

    Thanks for commenting. What I think you’re saying is not to use slang that cannot be accurately translated? You’re right of course – automatic translation is ropey at best, so it makes sense to give it every chance of getting it right.

  33. Gravatar of Discount Sunglasses 33 Discount Sunglasses

    aesthetically i prefer the flag display over the google widget. However, some of the web-browsers can’t really identify which flag belongs to which country… so to avoid confusion i use the google widget.

    This is a great feature to have on your site. I’ve visited many sites that are in different languages and found that after having them translated they were very useful. so i think as a considerate blogger, have one of these translators available to your visitors.


  34. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 34 Rodney Smith

    sunglasses: well, even if the browser doesn’t display the tooltips correctly, surely most people know their own flag?

  35. Gravatar of diseño web 35 diseño web

    not too nice to translate from spanish to english.

  36. Gravatar of Internet Games 36 Internet Games

    I am using this translator on my website related to news …and this is working awesome and I am getting visitors from all over the world
    Thanks man!

  37. Gravatar of eliminar acné 37 eliminar acné

    Hi! i’ve neither heard about translation plugins of sites by myself before! I found this post quite interesting and with useful tips, and also very clearly explained, because i had no idea of this theme and i understand it now! i sure follow your recomendations, because until now, i was translating sentence by sentence when i needed it in simple translators, and i was getting sick of that!

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