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Location position and accuracy

Have you ever checked the accuracy of your location marker compared to where it appears on the widely used google maps application?  If you do,  you may notice that the latitude and longitude and position of your marker is not exactly the same as where it appears in the Google Map.

The exact location marker on your map may be slightly off by a few feet or meters from the actual location shown in the Google Maps App. Both are using Geocoding  (the process of converting addresses into geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude), which you can use to place markers on a map, or position the map, so why the difference?

Zooming in on the Google Map site will reflect changes to the lat/long slightly  I found this to be so when I noticed those automatic Google icons populating my map.  Premier  or MySLP/Enterprise subscribers can check off the setting to render those Google icons”non-clickable” but what if you have a business listed at the same exact address or  possibly the same exact business as a Google icon?  I discovered when I clicked on the Google Map  icon and opened it in the browser independently  from  my site, it returned a different latitude and longitude.   I  then tried  to match their coordinates by updating my location address with the same lat/long that appeared in the browser.  To my surprise it moved my location further away then the initial coordinates.

As I  resolved to have my location marker override the Google icon , I decided to use a different map service to see if it would return a different geocoded coordinate.  Using “Bing Maps” I could see yet another latitude/longitude, granted they were all very close to each other , but this one was closer to the commercial Google Maps result.  I found it  zoomed in  closer on the marker then the commercial Google Maps did. Apparently they do not have the ad and marketing presence that Google has built into their maps. They want to show you as many ads and icons on their map as possible, so perhaps they cast a wider net and just get you close enough. Makes sense.

Back to Google Maps. Having surmised this may be a built in quirk for marketing,  I zoomed in on the location.  Sure enough,  a new set of coordinates appeared.   Once I had zoomed in as much as I could on the Google Maps icon I copied the new set of latitude/longitude coordinates and pasted those into my  location field in Store Locator Plus.    Viewing the map on the front end of my site proved my theory was  correct.  I achieved my goal.  With the exact same coordinates , my icon now appears instead of the google centric, auto icon that they had imposed.

Although this may not be an undertaking  you wish to venture  on if  you have a hundred locations sparsely located in a large region, I found this to be an effective way to force my icon to appear instead of one imposed on me by Google. I also came to the realization that even having an exact address in a third party app would not return the exact coordinates.

 

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Store locator featuring location sensor on HTTP site

HTTP site and Location Sensor

If your site is a non-secure site (HTTP) or does not have a valid SSL  ( Secure Sockets Layer) and/or you have not migrated your site to HTTPS ( Hyper Text Transfer Protocol secure), chances are your customer will have a message returned “No results found” even if you have Location Sensor enabled.

Most browsers , and the google map API  require sites to be secure to allow the search engine to detect your customers whereabouts.   There have been numerous articles written concerning the security changes.

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Why Good JavaScript Code Is Critical To Your Locator

Whether you are using our MySLP SaaS service or our WordPress plugins for Store Locator Plus, having a web page that is loading “clean” JavaScript code is CRITICAL to the functionality of your locator.   Most web pages today, and certainly those including an interactive map, are far removed from static HTML and images.   Today’s web pages are full-on applications.   They are programs that are running locally on your device to draw a page that looks similar to the old-time static HTML pages but with a lot more cool interactions; like maps.

While these new interfaces are cool and certainly make the web easier to use they come at a cost.   It requires that all of the little mini-applets that you are loading on a page to show to your users play nicely together.   Every single interactive component like that Google Ads sidebar, the Recaptcha validation and maps are all separate programs that are playing in the same “pool”.    The problem with this is that it is very easy for any one of those components to “go haywire” and spoil the fun for everyone else.

Part of the issue is that for most web page builders you have ZERO control over WHEN you get your turn to jump in the pool.   Do you get in first?   Or do you get in after someone left their “code turd” in the pool?   How well your app runs can depend a lot on WHEN it gets to run.  To make matters more complicated an interactive page may not “sprout new problems” until AFTER the user starts interacting with the page.   Maybe it happens when a user clicks on an ad that is being tracked which then breaks the code and all subsequent JavaScript is running in a “polluted pool”.

Often the Store Locator Plus map is the most visual an interactive element on the page.  It happens to be what most people notice first when JavaScript is broken.   You won’t notice if your ad-click is not being tracked but you sure as heck notice when you try to look up locations and the map doesn’t change.    Often the cry goes out “you broke the locator” when many times it is something else that broke well before the locator had a chance to do its work.

Check For JavaScript Code Errors

Use your web browser developer tools.   All modern browsers have this functionality and it can give you some clues as to what is really going on.    If you see errors in the console you will want to clean this up and see if it resolves the issues with the locator.

Safari

Go to Safari | Preferences | Advanced and click “Show Develop menu in menu bar”.

Safari Turn On Dev Tools
Safari Turn On Dev Tools

 

To check your JavaScript Console go to Develop | Show JavaScript Console

Look for any red exclamation marks and look at the error logs to suss out JavaScript code issues.

JavaScript Code Errors In Web Console
JavaScript Code Errors In Web Console

Firefox

Older versions of Firefox have the web developer tools enabled by default.  If you do not see the Web Developer menu option check under the Settings menu a this may be disabled by default in future releases.

To view possible JavaScript errors:

Go to Tools | Web Developer | Web Console

 

Learn More In This Video

Check out this video to learn more about the technical details of why JavaScript loading order and errors in other JavaScript code is important.

 

If you are not seeing JavaScript code errors on your page and your Store Locator Plus map is still not working please contact us!