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How to Create a Multilingual Website with WordPress WPML Plugin [Step-by-Step Guide]

Updated on December 10, 2021

6 Min Read
WordPress WPML

If you want to translate your website into different languages, you need to use a WordPress multilingual plugin like WPML.

WordPress WPML is very easy to use compared to other language plugins, and you can efficiently run a WordPress multilingual website through a single installation. You can choose your desired language and start translating content on your website in just a few minutes.

WPML contains more than 40 different languages. With WPML, you can manage several languages under a single domain. This blog will walk you through the easy setup wizard to install, configure, and use the WPML plugin on your WordPress website.

The site is well optimized and scores well on all website tests, but when WPML is acitve  it slows down your site. However, you can minimize all the performance issues with good WordPress hosting.

The WPML plugin provides translation services to manage multilingual sites by following the simple setup wizard and getting automatic translations instantly.

Select a Theme for Your Multilingual WordPress Website

For this tutorial, we will use the Total theme on WordPress. The total is a responsive and highly creative theme. If you have chosen “Total” for your WordPress website, this tutorial will help you learn how to turn your multilingual WordPress website using WPML.

How to Install/Upload Total Theme

Follow the steps below to install/upload the Total theme on WordPress:

  • Login to your wp-admin dashboard.
  • Navigate to Appearance >> Theme from your Side Panel.
  • Select Add New.
  • Search “Total Theme for WordPress” and upload it.

Upload Theme

  • If you have a theme in a .zip format, you may install it by uploading it here.

Install Now

  • Once done, you’d have successfully installed and activated the “Total theme” on my WordPress site.

Total Theme

By default, the “Total theme” has specific pre-defined plugins and extensions. You can install and activate them as per your requirement.

Plugins Activation

How to Install WPML to your WordPress Site

First, If you don’t have the WPML plugin, log in to your account, go to the download section, and download the necessary WPML components.

Once you have downloaded the WPML plugin, visit the back-end of your WordPress application and log in to your account. From the side panel, select Plugin >> Add New and then upload your plugin’s zip file.

Upload Plugin

If you get the plugin in a .zip format, you may install it by uploading it here.

Install Now

WPML plugin is now installed on your site.

Installed Plugins

Configure WPML Plugin

Before you can start using WPML, you need to complete the following steps:

1. Language for Existing Content

Before adding other languages, choose the existing content’s default language.

Language for Existing Contents

2. Select Languages

In this step, you can select multiple languages for your website. You can remove the selected languages later, so don’t worry about adding those you may not want later.

I will use two languages (English & German).

Select Languages

3. Add a Language Switcher

In this step, you can add a language switcher on the primary sidebar, page sidebar, and search result, etc.

Add a Language Switcher

4. Register

You have to add your site key in the Site key area for registration. If you don’t have a site key, you can create one by clicking on Generate a key for this site. If you don’t have an account on WPML, you first need to purchase a WPML account.


After clicking Generate a Key for this site, you will be navigated to the page. There, you will see a freshly generated site key for your WordPress website.

Generate a key

Just copy and paste the key in the Site key area and then click the Finish button.

Paste Register Key

I have successfully configured the WPML plugin for my WordPress website following all these steps.

WPML Options

How to Use the WPML Plugin on WordPress

WPML consists of different modules. You have different ways to manage and translate the content of your website. We will create pages and posts in other languages manually in this article.

You can also create pages and post in other languages manually. This section will show you how to change your post in different languages and walk you through the easy translation process.

Adding Post in English

Let’s add a sample post. To do so, go to Post >> Add New. We’ll name the post ‘My First Post’ with a short description. Finally, hit the Publish button to publish the post on your multilingual WordPress website.

Adding Post In English

Adding German Post

To change your current language or to switch between languages, navigate to the panel on the right side of your multilingual WordPress Post Editor.  You will see the language options as soon as you have published the post.

Adding German Post

To translate the post into a different language, let’s say German, click on the + icon on German from the Translate this Document option. This button will do the translation job for your site.

Translate this Document

Once you have added the German language to your Language Editor,  change the current language of the post to German and click Publish.

German Post

Let’s look at how the website looks on the front end.

Here is the English version:

English version

And here is the German version:

German version

Add RTL & LTR in One Website

You can also add RTL & LTR on one site, but make sure you choose a theme that supports both RTL & LTR. I am using the “Total theme” for the WordPress multilingual sites in this article.

Add the Arabic Language

If you wish to add the Arabic language to your website, follow the steps above, and your website will be translated into Arabic.

WPML >> Languages

Add/Remove Languages

Go to the same post, click the plus button, add the Arabic language in your Language Editor, change the post to Arabic, and hit Publish.

Arabic Post

Now, you can see the Arabic version as well:

Arabic version

Final Words

That’s all it takes to turn your website into a multilingual powerhouse. I hope the tutorial helped you in equipping you with knowledge about the WPML plugin. If you need to clarify anything or would like to contribute to the conversation, please leave a comment below.

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Mansoor Ahmed Khan

Passionate about technology, entrepreneurship, and marketing, Mansoor Ahmed Khan is in computing since he knows how to type on a keyboard. His daily life is rocked by his family, projects, and his screen. Probably in this order, he likes to be convinced at least. You can reach out to him at [email protected].


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