Optimize multilingual sites using Yoast SEO and WPML

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Yoast SEO plugin makes it easy to optimize your site for search engines. Together with WPML, you can use it to tune multilingual WordPress sites.

We use Yoast SEO on all our sites, to quickly and easily optimize for search engines. It lets us control the meta attributes that Google reads and add vital SEO information to all pages.

WPML and Yoast SEO teams work together to ensure complete compatibility, letting you optimize your multilingual sites in a simple way.

If you are new to SEO, you might be interested in our introduction article on multilingual SEO.

Here is a short video that explains the multilingual workflow of translating Yoast SEO textual attributes using WPML:

What you will need

  • A recent version of WPML, including Translation Management, Media Translation, and the String Translation add-on.
  • Yoast SEO (version 3.1.1 or above).
  • Yoast SEO Multilingual 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.


  • Getting started
  • Translating global SEO texts
  • Translation of page SEO attributes
  • Translation of breadcrumbs
  • How SEO Sitemaps work with WPML
  • Getting help from our support

Getting started

If you are a website owner working with a developer, please ask the developer to review these settings for you.

If you are a developer, ensure that the Yoast SEO plugin is activated by navigating to the Plugins -> Installed Plugins page.

In addition, ensure that the WPML Multilingual CMS, WPML String Translation, WPML Translation Management, and WPML Media Translation plugins are activated.

Translating global SEO texts

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

Translating the SEO texts

Now, you can 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 Settings -> Reading page, you can set the title and description for the front page by editing it.

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 texts 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 Select strings within domain drop-down.

Translating Global SEO Texts
Translating Global SEO Texts

Click on the Translation link next to the texts that you want to translate, enter the translation and select the Translation is complete checkbox. Finally, click Save.

Following the same steps, you can find all the translatable strings for the rest of the SEO attribute templates.

Translation of 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, we click on the plus icon in the Language box.

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

This sends a page to your translation editor. The SEO attributes are shown along the content of your page.  After you are done with translation click Finish button.

Translate the page content and SEO attributes
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 contents”, as far as WPML is concerned.

WPML knows how to handle the different SEO attributes when you translate content.

To save you work, WPML will automatically synchronize the “non-text” fields and let you translate the textual 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-textual settings are synchronized between the translations.

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

If you update the non-textual settings in the default language page then click on the Updatebutton, 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 update the non-textual setting in the secondary language page, follow the steps below:

  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 mark them as completed and save all the changes.


Translation of breadcrumbs

You can enable breadcrumbs in the advanced settings 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 it in the WPML String Translation panel. This is shown in the following screenshot.

Translating the anchor text for the homepage
Translating the anchor text for the homepage

How SEO Sitemaps work with WPML

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 WPML -> Languages page, together with the Yoast SEO plugin.

For example, when you have en.mydomain.com for the English site’s versions and es.mydomain.com 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.


Improving the ranking and having more visitors is one of the important goals for any website. Yoast SEO plugin by Yoast 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.

Getting help from our support

We have supporters in our forum who are ready six days a week to help you. They are trained in how to use WPML with Yoast SEO. If you are working with a developer for your site, please use our Translation support forum to get help with translating your site’s content.

If you are setting up the site and WPML yourself, please use our Technical support forum.

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