Google Maps are no longer free?
The map on your site is supposed to lead customers to you. But you may have noticed that some maps have a somber look and display the following message:
“This page can’t load Google Maps correctly”
They’re not one of our clients, for sure.
After 13 years providing free maps for business use, Google decided to upgrade their geolocation platform, arm it with new tools, and charge for it. Companies are a priority for Google’s business and maps are a very sought after feature. Location is one of the most important items in a Google My Business profile, for example.
Should you be worried about Maps? Not really. The static map embedded on your website that shows your location is still free up to 100 thousand web loads per month, which is more than enough for most businesses.
But there are major changes in their structure and pricing. Let us help you navigate through them.
Google Maps have a new platform, with new features focused on the companies’ needs. These changes imply a request for a Google API key to turn your map back to its normal appearance. By doing this, you’ll start an account with Google.
What’s an API key? It’s a unique code made of a string of letters and numbers, that connects a tool to a data provider. In this case, it will provide access to the data requested by your map.
And you don’t have to pay anything. Just create that account to keep your map up and running, until you get to that monthly 100 thousand loads limit, since it is covered by the 200 dollar recurring credit offered by Google. Beyond that limit, the meter starts ticking.
The new platform is divided in three products:
Each offers different features, with specific mechanisms. Maps are for a customized experience, Routes helps users find their way with real time information, Places generates a load of information about a set of locations. Some of the mechanisms are shared by these different products, others are exclusive, and all are designed to guide us on our everyday lives using Google Maps.
Google’s strategy is to cherry pick the information displayed on the maps, showing only the most useful for the users, providing them with more control over their use. They focused on the users’ needs to give them the best real world experience via geolocation.
Before we go on explaining why you should include Google Maps on your marketing strategy, we recommend an exhaustive look on the pricing sheet of these new services, that must be considered when budgeting your campaign.
The prices vary according to the features and their load and API calls limit vary, but for mid-sized / small business, the credit offered by Google will cover it.
Do I need a map?
Your customers do. Maps are for so much more than show where you are, they help your customers reach you more quickly and have all the information ready and available in one place.
Maps are more than a representation of locations or guides, they are tools for exploration, experience creators, time and expectations managers, of focus and direction. Maps are more useful than to just know if we are at point A or B, or how to go from one the other. They serve us to decide what we can do at A and B, and on the way between them.
If you’re selling a house, show the neighborhood without having users to leave the comfort of their home, and show the perks of living there. Enhance the details and show the schools in the area. Do you need to provide a route to your event or circuit? You can do that, with added information like weather conditions, expected traveling time, all before even getting on the road.
The possibilities are huge, and maps can be a fundamental part of your marketing strategy and a feature of your company. Or, just to show people where you’re at. The most important is to make customers find you, hassle free.
We can put your business on the map, and give you the best directions to turn your map into a business opportunity. Don’t get lost, get in touch.