With more than one billion monthly users, Google Maps has a huge impact on how people from around the world find locations and navigate unfamiliar places. So omnipresent is Google Maps, that it’s almost a surprise when someone suggests using Apple’s equivalent, fierce rival Waze, or (heaven forbid) a physical map to locate their final destination. It’s a crutch we all rely on to get from A to B in the shortest time possible, with the least amount of effort.
And for businesses, Google Maps is a vital tool – simplifying the process of welcoming customers and clients into their bosom. No longer are confusing addresses for headquarters based in daunting trading estates an issue for potential clients, nor are vague shop-bound directions a problem for would-be customers. For so many businesses, logging their location on Google Maps has been a simple yet hugely effective marketing move – driving interest and generating greater custom with minimal effort.
That’s why it’s integral that businesses ensure their presence on Google Maps is full, current and informative. And so, the news that Google Maps is changing should be something all business owners should be aware of – and ready to react to.
For the everyday user, the changes to Google Maps’ API shouldn’t be disruptive – you’ll still be able to enter exact locations, search for suggested destinations and receive route guidance. However, for some businesses whose premises are located on Google Maps, there could be some significant changes to be wary of.
The biggest change to Google Maps is the new charge method; businesses which receive a lot of Google Maps activity may be subject to a charge. The existing Basic and Premium packages are essentially being merged into one – all subject to a charge per session model. So, businesses which host Google Maps locations will be charged every time their location is found on a Google search.
However, before you start panicking and removing your business from Google’s far-reaching eye, there is some good news. Developers will be provided with $200 of free monthly Google Maps usage, enough to cover the activity for most businesses. It will only be the big boys who are expected to pay significant sums.
Another change is to the secondary functionalities of Google Maps, with Directions (the satellite navigation tool) and Street View (the little orange figure who gets flung onto the screen) now being charged at a slightly higher rate.
From a developers’ perspective, Google will consolidate its 18 different APIs into three core products: Maps, Routes and Places. This has been designed with the intent to simplify implementation for developers, and use for customers.
However, our Full Stack Developer, Mathieu Muller believes this move could complicate matters for businesses unaware of the impending changes. For starters, businesses have to actively set a spending cap, so could be forced to foot a sizeable bill if they pass the $200 allowance unawares. Mathieu suggests it could be better for businesses to have a temporary error on the map section of their site, rather than a ridiculous bill to pay. Even for businesses that don’t expect to get near the $200 limit, a quick upturn in traffic or an inundation of bots could quickly see them facing extra charges they may not have budgeted for.
Developers must also ensure they have a valid API key if their site has Google Maps functionality. This is particularly important for sites possessing the Premium Package, as their Google Maps functionality will be automatically transitioned without requiring a coding change – so this mandatory key must be present. You’ll also need to submit up to date billing information, otherwise Google Maps functionality may fail to work.
The updated version of Google Maps could impact overall traffic to the site, with the map operating externally from the site it is being hosted from. This could mean that the user can mine all the information they require without having to leave Google – earning Google the hit, rather than your business. This could require a change in tact for businesses who use Google Maps as an audience acquisition tool.
So, while Google Maps will continue to look and feel the same when you’re using its service, it’s well worth having your developer or a skilled professional take a look at your current set up. Just a few sage words of advice and a little tweak here or there could save your business in the long term.
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