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December 3, 2021

Yoast SEO and WPML power tens of thousands of multilingual WordPress sites. Together, they help you optimize your site’s content for search engines in each of the site’s languages (multilingual SEO).

Improving the ranking and having more visitors is one of the important goals for any website. Yoast SEO plugin is a great plugin to improve your site’s SEO and its integration with WPML allows you to have your multilingual search engine optimized with ease.

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Getting Started

Start by installing and activating the following plugins:

  • Yoast SEO
  • WPML core plugin and WPML String Translation add-on
  • WPML SEO plugin. This “glue” plugin allows for easier translation of your SEO content using WPML. You can download it from your WPML account’s Downloads page.

If you’re new to WPML, check out our Getting Started Guide. It quickly walks you through different translation options you can use.

Translating Global SEO Texts

Yoast SEO lets you enter text that applies to the homepage and also as templates for the entire site.

Translating the SEO Texts

Go to the SEO Search Appearance page and click the General tab.  Keep in mind that if you have selected a static homepage on the SettingsReading page, you can set the title and description for the front page by editing it.

Link to edit the site’s front page

After you enter the title and meta description, go to the WPML String Translation page to translate them. The String Translation page includes all the text that do not belong to a specific post or page but are coming from different theme and plugin texts.

To display all of Yoast SEO admin texts, select admin_texts_wpseo_titles in the In domain drop-down. Click the plus button next to the text you want to translate. Add the translation in the pop-up that appears, and press Enter.

Translating Global SEO Texts

Follow the same steps to find all the translatable strings for the rest of the SEO attribute templates.

Translating Page SEO Attributes

Yoast SEO adds a meta box to the content editor. There, you can control the page title, meta description, and focus keywords for each page separately.

Since WPML uses different pages for each language, they naturally have their own respective SEO attributes.

Let’s create a page, add some SEO attributes to it and translate it.

Default language page SEO attributes
Default language page SEO attributes

As you can see, we’ve entered the SEO title, meta description, slug, and focus keyword for this page. This is an English page, so we’ve entered the SEO attributes in English.

To translate this page, click on the plus icon in the Language box.

Controls to start translating a page
Controls to start translating a page

This opens the page in the Advanced Translation Editor. Here, you can translate the SEO attributes along with the content of your page.  After you are done with translation click Finish button.

Translate the page content and SEO attributes

The newly added Spanish translation has its own page. As a new page, it has its own title and contents. The SEO attributes are just another set of custom content, as far as WPML is concerned.

To save you work, WPML automatically synchronizes the “non-text” fields and lets you translate the text fields. Here are the SEO attributes for the Spanish translation of our page.

Translated page SEO attributes
Translated page SEO attributes

If you dig deeper, you will notice that the non-text settings are synchronized between the translations.

Sync settings for on-textual settings
Sync settings for on-textual settings

If you update the non-text settings in the default language page then click on the Update button, you will see the spinning arrows icon in the language meta-box, which indicates that the content is translated, but the translation needs updating. To synchronize the non-text setting in the secondary language page:

  1. Click the spinning arrows icon to go to the Translation Editor page.
Click the spinning arrows icon
Click the spinning arrows icon
  1. Fill in the fields with your translated content and save all the changes.

Translating Breadcrumbs

You can enable breadcrumbs on the SEO → Search Appearance page, under the Breadcrumbs tab. Once enabled, the page titles added to breadcrumbs will automatically appear in the appropriate language.

Enabling breadcrumbs
Enabling breadcrumbs

The only exception is the anchor text for the homepage. You need to translate by going to WPMLString Translation.

Translating the anchor text for the homepage

How SEO Sitemaps work with WPML

A sitemap is an XML file that lists all the pages on your site for search engines like Google.

Usually, there should be a sitemap for each domain and this is exactly what happens when using the A different domain per language option located on the WPMLLanguages page, together with the Yoast SEO plugin.

For example, when you have for the English site’s versions and for the Spanish site’s version, you will end up with two different XML files for each language version. Both versions will be listing the correct pages for their respective language.

You can find the default language sitemap, by going to yourdomain/sitemap_index.xml. For the sitemap in the secondary language, go to your-secondary-language-domain/sitemap_index.xml.

Known Issues

WPML works fine with this plugin, but sometimes there could be minor issues we're working on. This is expected as both plugins provide frequent updates.

Current unresolved issues:

You can also search all known issues including previously resolved issues for this plugin.

Getting Help from our Support

If you need help translating your site built using Yoast SEO and WPML, visit WPML’s support forum.