Google Maps are a common feature on websites across the internet. Having one on a contact page is practically universal these days. However, a new decision from Google is about to change all that. As of June 11th The company has started charging for the use of their maps. That means any site with a Google Map may incur fees to Google, depending on the number of times pages with maps are loaded.
Will my site be affected?
Sites that use the Google Maps are all subject to charge. Charges will be based on usage. So the first 28,000 times a Google Map is loaded on a site each month are free. After that Google charges $7 per 1,000 page loads. If that is confusing don’t worry. What it means is that Google counts every time a user visits a page with one of their maps on it. Once the number of pages visited reaches 28,000 per month, Google start charging.
Many small businesses might think that 28,000 is a pretty large number but it may not be quite as large as they think. You see, if a site has a Google Map on page A and a Google Map on page B, a single user visiting both those pages counts as 2 uses towards the 28,000. Furthermore, if a user visits page A, then navigates to page B, then goes back to page A, that counts as 3 uses. That means even if you never get 28,000 people to your website in a single month you might still easily exceed the monthly 28,000 load limit.
Is there any way around this?
Google has been very thorough about closing all the loopholes. They now require all people using Google Maps to associate a payment method with their account. To use their maps you will have to give them credit card details. If you choose not to add a payment method, the map on your website will be downgraded to a low res map with a watermark that says “For development purposes only”. Using a picture of a map, instead of an interactive map is an option, but using a picture of a Google map will also incur charges; so make sure you source an image you have full rights to use.
What are my options?
The first option is to add a payment method to generate an API key, which allows you to continue to use Google Maps as you are now. We offer step by step instructions to help guide you through this. Once you have set up the billing details you will be issued an API Key. A developer, (like the amazing developers at Plug & Play) will then be able to set up your website to use the new map functionality. Nothing about your sites look and feel has to change with this update.
Another option is to stop using Google Maps altogether and instead use an alternative maps provider. Plug & Play can help you with that if you are interested. There are other maps out there or you could also legally obtain an image of a map to replace the interactive map.
If having a map isn’t an essential for you because you don’t regularly have customers visiting your office, you could also consider removing the map from your website completely.