How To Make A Map

how to make a map

There are thousands of articles describing how to make a map. There are a plenty of tutorials and descriptions — mostly about how to use Google Maps to accomplish this. Unfortunately a good number of those How To articles and videos focus on how to use the site to make your own version of a Google Map. A map that they host and control access to — which means it can change or go away at any time. Or Google can even decide to start suddenly charging fees for this free service — much like they did with Google Maps API Keys.

Making Maps The Hard Way

If you get beyond the “here is how to login to Google Maps and add your places to THEIR maps” articles you may find some “How To Make YOUR OWN Map” content. If you are running a website and want to put a map in your content, these articles are a good start. This is the type of “map making” you want to be looking into if you want to have a map on your site where you control a lot more of the look-and-feel. More importantly you control which PLACES appear on the map.

Typically you’ll start with getting to know the Google Maps JavaScript API. The How To articles will describe how to embed the basic JavaScript snippet on your site to get the map to appear. A little more coding and you can even drop your own maps pins on that map.

Making Maps The Hard Way
Making Maps The Hard Way

Once you get your map up-and-running you’ll soon find that you are looking for even more articles. Articles that take you deeper into things like “how to hide the places Google force-feeds onto your site” — sometimes showing competitors locations alongside yours. Or articles on how to change the marker style. Or hide secondary roads.

Before long you are months-deep into full-blown map development. If you can do these things yourself you may only be spending time. Often businesses are paying a web developer or web marketing agency a fairly hefty fee as they learn map building for your site.

Making Things A Little Easier

Thankfully many web presence service like WordPress, Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace offer pre-built solutions. Some of these solutions are free but you pay for add-on services — much like the way our Store Locator Plus® WordPress plugins work. Nearly all of these services also require you obtain your own Google API Keys; Google has gotten too expensive for many of these pre-built map solution providers to include an “all you can eat buffet” of map views in their one-time purchase pricing.

Store Locator Plus® Map Software for WordPress
Store Locator Plus® Map Software for WordPress

These pre-packaged management tools make it a lot easier to build and display a map on your site. Often you can upgrade to versions of these apps to provide access to the HTML, CSS, and advanced JavaScript rules to fully customize the user experience. Some tools even make a lot of the most-used features a simple mouse-click option on a menu of user experience options.

How To Make A Map – The Easy Way

While pre-packaged map making software can save a lot of time and money over build-it-yourself maps, it still requires you or your web team to manage things like Google API Keys. You’ll want to know how to properly secure those keys so nobody else can steal them from your web source code. Not too mention you’ll want to keep a close eye on your billing and web traffic — at $7 per 1,000 map views and geocoding requests it can add up quickly to hundreds-of-dollars per month in Google fees.

There is another option that takes the map software a step further. Software as a Service apps are popping up every day. These services are often far easier to use than working with Google directly. All of the better solutions completely manage your Google API keys while providing the flexibility and power available in the self-managed apps.

Store Locator Plus® map maker saas
Store Locator Plus® map maker saas

Many of our WordPress plugin users have found that moving over to our SaaS offering has freed up resources. They no longer are paying web experts to upgrade and update plugins. Make sure backups are saving their hours-and-hours of data entry in case one of those updates goes wrong. They also can stop worrying about security and people snarfing their Google API keys from their site.

Instead, they get to focus on their business. Building their products. Improving their services. And hopefully adding new locations to their maps as they grow.

Google Maps API Key Information

google maps api key

One of the most frequently discussed topics on our locator support forums is the Google Maps API Key.   Nearly every website that has deployed a map has used the Google Maps solution.   Makes sense — for years it was free.   The quality of the default map presentation was superior to alternatives.    It quickly took over the Internet with millions of sites showing off Google Maps.

Then, a few years back, Google decided it was time to turn on the money machine.   They told all site owners that were using Google Maps API Keys that they had a year to get a credit card on file with Google so they could start billing for access to their mapping service.    While they stretched that initial year-long period to nearly two-years, eventually the free ride came to an end.

Google Maps API Key Fees

Today, more than two years after Google started charging for use of their Google Maps services we are still seeing regular inquiries from our WordPress plugin users asking why their maps suddenly became unusable.   Often fingers point in our direction as the problem.

The WordPress plugins for Store Locator Plus® does not manage any of the Google Maps API Key billing of services.   We utilize the Google Maps API in our software so that non-technical business owners and web developers can leverage the Google Maps JavaScript API.    We provide a simple interface for changing map features and rendering the map.    When it is time for the map to be displayed we send the request, on your behalf, to Google to render the map.

Since Mid-2017 Google stopped freely showing maps.   They require that you have a billing account setup with your credit card on file and have attached that to the Google Maps API Key credentials.   If you do not have an API key or have a key without billing enabled your maps may be partly or fully disabled by Google.

Users of our self-managed WordPress plugins will need to update their Google account to add billing information.  Google will bill $7 per 1,000 map views and $7 per 1,000 geocoding requests.   While many sites can get by with a $10 – $25 monthly Google bill, there are alternatives.

Google Maps API Key
Google Maps API Key

Managed Google Map Services

Our Store Locator Plus® SaaS offering, for example, handles the Google license and maps API key fees or you.    A simple monthly fee covers various levels of map views and geocoding requests.    On average our customers pay around $5/1,000 map views and all geocoding requests are about half that rate.

Check out our Store Locator Plus® SaaS offering today and stop dealing with the hassle of managing your own Google Maps API keys.

API keys with referer restrictions cannot be used

API keys with referer restrictions

You’ve tried typing in addresses into your WordPress Store Locator Plus® map page but always get “location not found”. Being a tech savvy person you took a look at your browser developer console and notice an “API keys with referer restrictions cannot be used with this API.” in the JavaScript console.

Thankfully our MySLP users don’t have to deal with this sort of thing; but if you are using the self-managed WordPress plugins, read on.

Stop the Google API key madness with MySLP

MySLP drops the Google API key madness once-and-for-all. If you are tired of the API key game, it may be time to switch.