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How to Handle Exports and Imports for Multilingual WordPress Sites (The Smart Way)

As a Content Management System, WordPress is known for its flexibility and ease of use, making it an ideal platform for content-rich websites. A key part of this appeal comes from plugins that boost your site’s functionality, including those for exporting and importing content.

You may not consider the need to export and import your site’s content until the situation demands it. One day you might find yourself needing to move your content to a different WordPress site. This could be for technical reasons, or maybe you’re just working on a website redesign project. Either way, you won’t want to lose the content you have on your original site, like posts, pages, products, media files, and more.

This is where export and import plugins come in handy. They let you take all or some of your website’s data and put it into a file. Then, you can use this file to add the data to your new WordPress website.

However, if your website has content in more than one language, things can get a bit trickier. You need to ensure that on your new site, all your content stays properly organized by language. Without the right tools, this can become an overwhelming task.

In this guide, we’ll explain the problems you might face when moving multilingual content and introduce you to a plugin that makes the process a breeze.

The Challenge of Multilingual Imports and Exports

If you have a website with content in multiple languages, the export and import process presents unique challenges.

Let’s say your website is available in English, Spanish, and French. Each post is connected to its translations, so your visitors can switch between languages easily. When you move your website:

  • You need to keep each post in its correct language
  • Each English post should still link to its Spanish and French versions, and vice versa

On their own, WordPress import plugins can transfer your multilingual data to a new site. But they don’t have the ability to process language information correctly, leading to all content showing mixed up under a single language.

This issue can lead to a lot of extra work, requiring you to manually assign the correct language to each piece of content and link translations together. It can also hurt the experience for your site’s visitors. If they see content in a mix of languages, they might get confused and leave your site.

The Solution: WPML Export and Import

WPML Export and Import, an add-on for the core WPML plugin, removes the hurdles of moving multilingual website content. It works with various WordPress export and import plugins, allowing you to move everything from multilingual posts and pages to taxonomies and WooCommerce products.

What sets WPML Export and Import apart is its ability to assign the correct language to each piece of content after import and link translations. This means you can use your favorite tools to move your content, and WPML Export and Import will handle the language details.

How to Get Started with WPML Export and Import

There are several ways to import content to a new WordPress site. You can use an export and import tool or plugin to move content from one WordPress site to another. Or, you can create a custom spreadsheet with content and then use an import plugin to transfer the data to a new site.

The method you choose will depend on why you’re moving information to a new site. For example, if you’re moving everything from one site to another, you can use an export plugin to generate the import file. But if you have a large WooCommerce site and manage your product information and handle your updates in a spreadsheet, it might be easier to import these products to a site from the spreadsheet.

WPML Export and Import supports both workflows, each requiring a slightly different set of steps. Below, we’ll give you a quick overview of how to move content from one WordPress site to another.

Step 1: Set Up Your Plugins

You can use WPML Export and Import with popular WordPress export and import plugins, including:

WPML Export and Import fully supports these plugins, which means that it works with them to automatically add language information to exports. It also keeps newly imported content hidden until translations are automatically connected and cleaned up.

For this to happen, you’ll need to install WPML Export and Import on both sites – the site you’re importing from and the site you’re importing to.

Step 2: Export Your Multilingual Content

With the necessary plugins installed, use your chosen export plugin to generate a file of your site’s multilingual content. WPML Export and Import will work in the background to add the necessary language information.

Step 3: Import Your Multilingual Content

On your new site, activate your plugins and set up WPML. Make sure to go through the WPML language setup and enable the languages you will import the multilingual content in.

Then, follow the workflow of your chosen import plugin to import your multilingual content. After the import, you’ll see all your imported posts, pages, and other content grouped under one language in the backend.

Mixed language content in draft status on the backend before running WPML Export and Import

This is expected, as you still need to run WPML Export and Import to update the multilingual information. To make sure your visitors don’t see this mix on the front-end, WPML Export and Import will temporarily keep the imported content in draft status until it updates the multilingual information.

Step 4: Run WPML Export and Import

After importing, go to WPML → Export and Import and click Run WPML Import. This final step updates the language information, ensuring content is accurately categorized and linked to its translations.

Running WPML Export and Import to update multilingual information

After WPML Export and Import completes its process, take a look at your site on both the backend and front-end. You should see your content assigned to the right languages and connected translations.

Original Language Content on the Front-End After Running WPML Export and Import

Connected Translations on the Front-End After Running WPML Export and Import

Unlock Effortless Multilingual Exports and Imports

At BLEND, we understand how crucial a smooth export and import process is for your multilingual WordPress website. WPML Export and Import provides an excellent solution, making sure your content stays organized and functional across languages.

Although BLEND supports translation of content through WPML, to learn more about WPML Export and Import we encourage you to reach out to the WPML team directly. If you’re new to WPML, the pre-sales team can answer any questions you might have. And for those of you already using WPML to send WordPress translations to BLEND, the WPML support forum is your go-to resource for help with exports and imports.

Armed with the right tools and knowledge, moving your multilingual content can be a smooth and worry-free process.

author post

Fouad Habash

As BLEND’s Localization Solutions Engineer, Fouad is a seasoned expert in translation technologies, including TMS, CAT tools, AI and MT. With over 14 years of industry experience, Fouad ensures our clients receive the best and most efficient localization processes.


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