In June 2018, Google Maps was replaced by the new Google Maps Platform for business and developers.
This tool previously provided at great expense by Google is now on a pay-as-you-go billing model.
To utilise the features of the maps service for your website, you now must create account with Google Cloud. Accessing the Map functionality requires an API key from the Cloud console. Then, requests to Google Maps sent from the code of your website or software are logged against a billing profile and ultimately the usage is then charged for.
If your website or application is showing errors where Google Maps used to be, chances are you need create your Google Account and update the code with your API key. Depending on how the maps have been setup by your developers, it may just be very simply, but not in all situations.
<script src=https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/js?key=YOUR_API_KEY&callback=initMap async defer></script>
Google Maps API Pricing Explained
The new pricing model is a freemium one – all users will receive $200 worth of API calls free every month.
For the majority of websites, this monthly credit is more than enough to support the needs of a simple map. Whether they’re on the contact page, or something more complex like a store finder functionality.
This knowledge may reassure some, however Google keeps your credit card details and will charge for over-usage. For the more astute, Google will provide a facility to set daily quotas to protect against unexpected charges.
The billing is based on ‘loads,’ which is translated into cost and the cost is then based on the specific Google service being used. An interactive map on your contact page would be a 1 ‘load’ per page visitor so, 1000 visits to your contact page would simply be 1,000 ‘loads’ in the month.
A static map that doesn’t provide the ability for users to zoom in/out or scroll, is much cheaper per ‘load’. More complicated functionality on a website, e.g. a store finder which uses Google autocomplete API for the search field and then a dynamic map below, does incur more cost. The autocomplete itself requires a ‘load’ for every letter typed in the search field, and then a request for the map to load below once the search button has been clicked, so typing ’Web Design Suffolk’ could be 50-100 requests, depending on human error or keyboard malfunction.
What does $200 Google API credits get me?
- Up to 28,000 free loads of Dynamic Maps; or
- Up to 100,000 free loads of Static Maps; or
- Up to 40,000 free Direction loads; or
- Up to 40,000 free Geolocation loads; or
- Up to 70,000 free Autocomplete loads
If in doubt, ask your developer to identify which services you’ll require to be enabled on your Google Cloud account; you should also understand the traffic your website receives in order to approximate the charges, with high traffic sites obviously calculating this more accurately.
Example Map Cost Calculation:
|Street View API||5 map loads x 1,000 visitors/day = 5,000 Loads|
Total map loads: 1,000 + 5,000 = 6,000 requests per day × 365 days = ~$23,640 annually
Helpful tools for calculating Google API requirements
Can I get Google Maps for Free?
In short, yes.
Google Maps provide a free embed code that you can copy/paste onto your website totally free of charge – or for now at least!
To get a free Google map, simply search for your business on google maps and you should see a ‘Share’ link in the sidebar under the company name and reviews. Click this to load the popup window, change the tab to ‘Embed a map’ and click ‘copy HTML‘. If you’re feeling confident paste the code onto your website, either through the WordPress editor or via FTP. Alternatively, I’m sure your web developer can help.