Maps are an essential part of any real estate website. They’re used to show the location of listings and the boundaries of communities. The visual and interactive nature of online maps adds a lot to the user experience of an agent’s site.
When it comes to online maps, Google is king. Nearly 14% of the top 1 million sites use embedded Google Maps. That is 46 times greater than the next closest competitor. With such a large share of the market, any change to Google Maps can have a major impact on the Internet. Just such a change happened this week.
Google Maps API Key
To this point, you could embed a Google Map on a real estate website without an account. This is no longer the case. As of June 11, 2018, a Google Maps API key is required to add a map to a website.
Getting an API key from Google is fairly straightforward. Create a Google Console account, add a credit card to that account, and generate an API key (step-by-step guide below).
For an existing API key, Google has a Transition Tool to add the necessary billing information for continued use.
Google Maps Pricing
A credit card on file is required to get a Google Maps API key, but that doesn’t mean any charges will occur. While there are fees associated with certain map features, the majority of real estate agents will never use them.
Most REALTORS® only need to embed a simple dynamic map. According to Google’s Pricing and Billing Changes page, “Embed with Dynamic Maps or a map with a marker, will continue to be free with unlimited usage. Embed API requests using Directions mode, Street View mode, or Search mode will now be billed.”
Unless a more advanced application is needed, Google Maps should continue to be free for nearly all real estate agent websites.
Generate a Google Maps API Key
- Navigate to Google’s Get Started page.
Pick a Product(s)
- Choose all 3 products (Maps, Routes, & Places).
- Press CONTINUE.
Select a Project
A project is required to generate an API key.
- Enter a name for this new project.
- Press NEXT.
Enable Billing for the Project
- Click CREATE BILLING ACCOUNT.
Agree To Terms
- Enter your country.
- Set an email preference.
- Agree to the terms.
- Press AGREE AND CONTINUE.
Establish a Payment Profile
- Select an existing profile or create a new one.
- For new profiles, complete the Customer Info form (contact and credit card information).
- Press START MY FREE TRIAL.
Enable Your APIs
- Click NEXT.
Start Using the Google Maps API Key
Add a Google Maps API Key To IMPress Listings
IMPress Listings uses Google Maps to show a property’s location. In order to include an embedded map on listing detail pages, a Google Maps API key is needed.
Access IMPress Listings Advanced Settings
- From the WordPress admin, click LISTINGS.
- Click SETTINGS.
- Click the ADVANCED tab.
Enter Google Maps API Key
- Scroll down to the MAPS section.
- Paste the Google Maps API key into the BROWSER KEY field.
- Click SAVE SETTINGS.
Having to get a Google Maps API key is a bit of a nuisance. Thankfully, generating a key takes only a few minutes. Once created, the key can be used for any WordPress plugin that embeds a Google map.