Google Maps pricing changes have finally gone into effect after multiple instances of Google playing “kick the can down the road”. The initial changes where supposed to go into effect on June 11th, 2018. Google gave everyone a break from scrambling to implement API keys after announcing that change less than a month before they intended to shut down free access to their maps — they extended the “drop dead” date to July 16th, 2018.
Today is July 16th, 2018 — free Google Maps access is a thing of the past.
If you are using the WordPress plugins you must now have a Google Maps API key and an attached billing account for that key or your maps will stop appearing on your site. Users of the My Store Locator Plus™ fully managed locator service do not have to worry about this — we take care of all the licensing for you.
Luckily Google has provided everyone a credit for 2 months of free API access for your maps. You will need to get an API key and create a Google billing account so they can charge you for their pay-as-you-go service. Unlike in the past, both small sites and larger sites will start to incur fees under the new Google Maps pricing structure.
New Google Maps Pricing
For users of the WordPress plugins you will need to look at the Google Pricing Matrix under “Dynamic Maps”.
The base fee is $0.007 for each call to the Google Maps API for the first 100,000 API calls.
The fee after 100,000 API calls is $0.0056 per call.
For a typical site where the map is displayed and lists a dozen-or-so locations the fee will roughly correlate to how many visitors the map page receives. If you have 100 page views of your “locator page” every month you will have approximately 200 API calls for the geocoding request of the user’s location plus the map tiles loading. 100 page views will cost $1.40.
Geocoding location also incurs a fee under the new Google Maps pricing scheme. If you import 1,000 locations with the Power add on import feature you will record 1,000 geocoding requests in addition to ongoing map views. 1,000 locations will incur a $7.00 charge from Google when they locations are imported. Again, MySLP covers these fees for you.
Store Locator Plus 4.9.7 “map attributes” update was released today for our WordPress users. The update is still in testing for MySLP users — some of the patches in this release are a direct result of the testing before integrating into our managed service. The updated release will be on the MySLP platform soon but will have limited impact on those users.
The [slplus] processor in the core plugin has been updated to allow more map attributes to be set. This update allows ALL options that have been migrated to the new Smart Options architecture (80% of all SLP settings at this point) to be used as an attribute. This greatly improves the ability to create custom maps on a per-page basis with settings that vary from the general “system wide” settings that come from the Store Locator Plus > Settings tab.
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.