There are a few different ways to offer multiple language translations for your website. Though new plugins may come out, the options simply break down into three types of solutions.
- Automatic Translation
With this option you completely rely on software based translation to convert your content. Although it is an easy quick fix, these software based translations can produce translations that are not always accurate or in some cases, make no sense at all. This works best if you don’t care so much about how readable your site will be in other languages, but you want to increase visability or at least your perceived visibility.
- Manually Override Content By Language
If you do have the resources to manually translate content on your site, at least for some of the content, then a plugin that allows you to manually override the content will give you a great solution. With some plugins you can get an automatic translation that you can over ride, and on other systems you will get the primary language unless the users specific language has been loaded manually. If you want to uphold the quality of your content but at the same time not commit to ongoing translations of every piece of content that you load, then the manual override solution will give you that flexibility.
- Multiple Websites
If you truly want to build a audiences in two or more languages the ideal solution involves running multiple websites. This option allows you to completely customise the site to fit the audience and their language/ culture. The major benefit of running multiple sites is that you can improve SEO for both sites independently. With some of the cookie based solutions above, search enginges may never see the multi language content. It will also be easier for users to share links to your site in their specific language. Although it does require a little more configuration and setup, with the advancements in ease of posting content with WordPress, managing separate sites is not much more difficult then utilizing a plugin for the content.
Here are some plugins that you should look into when considering managing a multilingual site.
This is an Autmotic translator although it has a pro version component that adds manual override as an option.
This is a manual overide translator that also has some neat SEO benifits. This is as close as you can get to running two seperate sites without actually doing it.
There are other plugins out there, but these two currently have the largest audiences and appear to have all the nessesary features.