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.

Solar Installers Directory, AWS S3 Static Hosting

Check out our latest pet project, our Solar Installers Directory.   Solar Installers Directory is a mobile friendly website hosted on an Amazon S3 bucket.   It has full https security, Cloudfront distributed content, and virtually zero server overhead.    The locations map is provided by our Store Locator Plus® SaaS service.

About S3 Hosting

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides high-availability cloud storage via their S3 service.   Typically this is used to host off-site content such as backups or data that is not needed on a regular basis.    Some people use it to see AWS Cloudfront, a content distribution network, to speed up their sites for images or other content.   A lesser-known trick is using the S3 bucket to host a website.

While there are some limitations to what you can do, the site is static HTML + JavaScript + CSS, those last two components make “static” websites a far more viable option.    Modern user experiences can be built for any business that does not need a full database-driven site.    This is an exceptionally good fit for a “calling card” web presence.

Store Locator Performance Improves

Store Locator Plus® was updated today with a number of improvements over the 5.2 release.   Users will find that the Locations management screen is much faster when the screen options sets pagination length to more than 100 records.  The update also ensures that those users that set their location list to more than 512 locations can still use the Export options available in the Professional and Enterprise level of service, or that have the Power add on installed if using the WordPress plugins.

SaaS Performance Boost

While the 5.3 release of Store Locator Plus® includes a number of performance enhancements across-the-board, our SaaS service has received some additional updates that allow us to process location and map requests a little faster.   This is thanks to working with a controlled software stack where we know the exact version of WordPress, PHP, and all the libraries involved to squeeze as much performance as possible from the code.

Users should notice faster response when loading the map on a page, especially on sites with more than a few dozen locations being displayed.