How To Put Google Maps On A Website

You want to put Google Maps on a website but don’t know where to start. If you are not a tech geek it can be confusing. There are literally hundreds of options ranging from free to you-want-how-much? The technical skills required to implement maps on your site are no less varied, with anything from “paste this code into your web page” to “edit the JavaScript to set your JSON data block”. Depending on your budget, technical expertise, and what you need to accomplish there are a variety of options available.

Should I Go Direct To Google?

One option to consider is going direct to Google.   Why get too many people involved when you can go “straight to the source”?   It is a great option if you have the technical skills to implement the map code and the time to maintain it.

While Google is a great option, they like to change things.   Sometimes the changes are cosmetic, such as renaming a service on-a-whim with little-if-any notification.  These types of changes rarely break anything.  If you were accustomed to finding the settings you need to update under the “Browser Key” and now it is named “JavaScript Business API Key” it can be frustrating.    Less innocuous is when they change how things work such as dropping location sensor, the feature that automatically detects where the user is, if you did not enable secure web protocols when implementing your map.   Suddenly the map shows people locations in Coffeyville Kansas when they are in downtown Boston.

With a variety of third party solutions that deal with the Google changes for you, there is little reason to go directly to Google to put Google Maps on a website.

Free Google Alternatives

Google’s map service is free, at least until your site gets a lot of traffic, but it is not easy to setup unless you have technical expertise.   There are a lot of quality services and plugins available from reputable vendors.   Many of the Google Maps vendors have been around for a while and are not likely to vanish overnight.  This should alleviate any concerns that your map will suddenly disappear from your website.

Depending on which platform you are using, there are multiple free services to choose from.   For businesses that use WordPress as their website platform, our Store Locator Plus plugin is one such free option.   Maps are implemented with a shortcode and managing your locations is handled via an easy-to-use web form.   You also get the added security of owning the software.

Low-Cost Website Maps

Another way to put Google Maps on a website is to use a paid service.   If your business relies on local customers or clients, a map of your locations is paramount.   According to research by Comscore as well as many marketing agencies, business address information is the number-one item people look for when researching a local business.   With Google Maps playing such an important role, paying a little more for a mapping service is a smart investment.

Location is the most sought-after piece of information by web visitors.
Location is the most sought-after piece of information by web visitors.

…address and location are the primary pieces of information sought by local searchers.

Search Engine Land 

Paid services include a lot more than taking care of the technical challenges of putting a map on a website.   Free plugins and services do a great job of hiding the complexities of putting Google Maps on your site, however they often take care of only the basics.   Paid services add extra features and management tools so you can focus on building your business.

For example, with most free services you will still need to get “permission” from Google to show their maps on your site.   That means registering for an API key and configuring the settings of your product.  Our own Store Locator Plus for WordPress plugin works that way.   With paid services such as our My Store Locator Plus service, the API key is taken care of for you.  No extra configuration required on your part  Add your locations and paste the embed code that is generated on your site and you are done.

Software As A Service

If you choose to use a subscription-based service we recommend using a hosted or “SaaS” service.  Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) is a term for any software that you “rent” on a month-to-month basis that is managed by the company that makes the software.   If you have ever used web-based email such as gMail or Yahoo! Mail, you have used SaaS.

When it comes to putting Google Maps on a website, SaaS has many advantages.   With a service like our MySLP offering, you do not have to worry about updating the software whenever  a new update comes out.    You also don’t need to subscribe to a backup service to ensure you don’t lose your locations;  Any reputable Software-As-A-Service provider will be doing that for you.    There can also be significant performance advantages, meaning your website visitors see the map and your location faster. Most SaaS providers are running in the cloud on high-performance server with more bandwidth than most businesses get with their hosting provider.

How To Put Google Maps On A Website?

One thing is certain, if you have a local business you need to have a Google Maps on your site.   If you have multiple locations it is critical.  Which option should you choose?

  • You are technically-inclined and don’t mind spending some time every few months updating your code: going directly to Google is an option.
  • If you would like to add visual flair to your maps, want to let someone else worry about the latest changes to the Google service, and only want to focus on building your business then consider a free service.
  • Want a custom style that matches your brand, have multiple locations, rely on local traffic at your business, or want to hand-off everything but “keeping our map loaded up with the latest address information”? You’ll want to go with a SaaS-based service.

Regardless of which option you choose, studies have proven that businesses that rely on local customers generate more business by having their address and map on a website.

Have questions about how to put Google Maps on a website? We can help.

Store Locator Plus 4.8.4 Released Today

In preparation for feature updates to our Premier (checkbox category selectors anyone?), Power, and Experience add ons, the free Store Locator Plus base plugin was updated to version 4.8.4 today.   All of the updates including the premier add on features will be rolled out in MySLP 17.10 to our monthly service users later this month.

Speaking of the MySLP service, for those that haven’t already heard, it is a version of Store Locator Plus that runs on any website or mobile application that supports embedded JavaScript.  That includes WordPress.   Our servers handle all the locator updates, location storage, and the overhead of managing the plugins.   The only thing you need on your WordPress site is to paste a JavaScript embed code in text mode while editing a page or post and the locator magically appears.   You don’t even need the Store Locator Plus plugin or add ons to make it happen.

Back to the Store Locator Plus WordPress plugin update for those that like to have full control and manage their own software and websites…

The following updates have been made in Store Locator Plus 4.8.4:

  • Fix apostrophe in description on editor.
  • Fix admin page detector. Fixes category icon/marker selector for the Power Add On.
  • Fix the admin pages related settings highlight.
  • Clean up some of the admin locations interface elements. Use jQuery base dialogues from Theme Roller.
  • Simplified object loader to reduce overhead.
  • Minor performance improvement on admin page saves.
  • Directory Builder no longer supported, it is part of the Power Add On.
  • Experience 4.8.3 or higher is required.
  • Dropped slp_save_map_settings_inputs filter.
  • A half-dozen old-school style map markers (pin_red, marker, icon_entertainment, bubble_person, box_teal_airport, box_gray_house, arrow) have been removed. They can be added to WP media manager or a newer style selected in its place.

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WordPress and MySLP

Some of our long-time WordPress plugin customers have decide to reduce their workload and customer maintenance overhead by migrating to the MySLP service.  Here are your answers to some of the most common questions that have come up during the process.

How Do I Connect MySLP To The Plugin?

The short answer: You don’t.  

The MySLP service is a self-contained application that installs on your WordPress site , or any site builder that supports JavaScript, with a simple JavaScript embed.    It does not require the Store Locator Plus plugins to be installed on the WordPress site.

In fact, if you are now using MySLP you should delete any of the Store Locator Plus plugins you have installed on your WordPress site.    Make sure you’ve downloaded your locations and copied any settings you wish to take to MySLP beforehand.   While on that topic, a good site administrator will delete any obsolte and unused plugins from a WordPress site.  Deactivated plugins are still available for hackers to exploit.

If There Is No Plugin How Do I Use It?

To manage the locations and settings you will login to your MySLP Dashboard.

When you are ready to deploy the map you can go to any page or post on the site and paste the embed code you copied from your MySLP dashboard.    Make sure you are viewing the page/post editor in text mode first, then paste the JavaScript embed where you want the map to appear on the page.

How Do I Get The Locations Into MySLP?

If you are migrating an existing site you will want to export locations from the WordPress install with the Power add on BEFORE deactivating and deleting the WPSLP plugins.

Go to the Locations tab in Store Locator Plus and select “Export, Hosted” or “Export, Download” from the download menu then click the To All portion of the Apply To All button.

Make sure you’ve copied your settings to your new MySLP account as well.

Once you have your locations CSV file go to your MySLP Dashboard account and look for the Locations Import tab under Advanced Options.   Import is available on Power or higher level accounts.   You can upgrade or downgrade service to/from the Advanced level as needed to get the import feature during the migration process.

On a related note, we are working on an “Import From A WPSLP Install” feature for MySLP that will bring over locations directly without the manual import/export process.

How Many Sites Can Use My Map?

Your MySLP account can deploy the locator on as many sites and mobile apps as you need.   Each deployment will share the same map settings and location list which can be useful for building SEO content pages while retaining a consistent location listing between the sites and pages.