Google does not openly advertise the fact that they have different location data for different users. However there is good anecdotal evidence an hearsay that Google Maps API returning inaccurate results may be by design.
The evidence is most prevalent in the geocoding of locations. The latitude and longitude Google assigns to different addresses is not “set in stone”. It is an interesting anomaly given the fact that places on earth should not move with regard to their latitude & longitude outside of plate tectonics.
The team at Store Locator Plus® has long held a theory that Google intentionally subverts accurate location data; quite likely to gain competitive advantage for their own products and services.
Security Through Anonymity
Prior to Store Locator Plus® 5, every time a user visited your map page and typed in an address to be searched — typically the zip code for their town or their home address, this request was sent directly to Google. That means Google now has all kinds of great information they are going to store about your site visitors. They know that the user visited your site, when they visited, that they were looking at your location map, and the address where they were looking for your shop.
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.
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.
…address and location are the primary pieces of information sought by local searchers.
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.