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September 19, 2023

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. Its integration with WPML allows you to have your multilingual search engine optimized with ease.

On This Page:

Getting Started

Start by installing and activating the following plugins:

  • Yoast SEO
  • WPML core plugin and WPML String Translation add-on
  • WPML SEO add-on. This “glue” plugin makes it possible to translate your SEO content using WPML. You can download it from your WPML 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 texts that apply to the homepage and act as templates for the entire site.

You can set how your content looks in search results by going to Yoast SEO → Settings. In the Content types section, you can individually determine how your Homepage, Posts, and Pages should appear.

Determining how the homepage should look in search results

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 homepage

After you enter the title and meta description, you can translate them on the WPML String Translation page.

The String Translation page includes all the texts that do not belong to a specific post or page. This includes texts coming from different themes and plugins.

To display all of Yoast SEO admin texts available for translation:

  1. Use the In domain drop-down menu to select admin_texts_wpseo_titles.
  2. Click the plus icon next to the text you want to translate. Add the translation 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.

Default language page SEO attributes

To translate these SEO attributes:

  1. Click on the plus icon in the Language box.
Clicking the plus icon to translate the page
  1. This opens the Advanced Translation Editor. Here, you can translate the SEO attributes along with the content of your page. After you are done translating, click the Complete button.
Translate the page content and SEO attributes in the Advanced Translation Editor

If we take a look at the translation on the backend, we can see the translated SEO attributes.

Translated page SEO attributes

WPML automatically synchronizes the non-text settings when you translate the page. As the example below shows, the option to disallow search engines from crawling images is synced across languages.

Non-text settings for the default language page

Non-text settings for the secondary language page

If you update or change these non-text settings for the default language page after you have already translated it, you need to synchronize the non-text setting with the secondary language page.

You can do this by clicking the spinning arrows icon to update the translation of the page. This takes you to the Advanced Translation Editor, where you can click Complete to update and save the changes.

Currently, you will not see a spinning arrows icon next to translated pages after updating non-text settings. To apply the setting to your secondary language page, you need to click the Update button on your default language page twice.
We are working on a fix for this issue.

Translating Breadcrumbs

To enable breadcrumbs for your theme, go to the Yoast SEO Settings page and expand the Advanced tab. Then, click on Breadcrumbs. You can find the option at the bottom of the page.

Enabling breadcrumbs for your theme

Once enabled, the page titles added to breadcrumbs will automatically appear in the appropriate language.

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

From there, you can search for texts in the admin_texts_wpseo_titles domain and then click the plus icon next to the text you want to translate.

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. This is exactly what happens when you use WPML’s A different domain per language option 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 different XML files for each language version. Both versions list 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

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