It wasn’t long ago that Mapquest was the only quality mapping tool online. Then, the rise of Google Maps, possibly the best and most sophisticated mapping tool available online. Google Maps inspired regular people to become cartographers — mapping our lives, mashing up old maps in new ways, and creating a new way to share our world. Even as the maps have become more sophisticated, the general tools have become simpler. In fact, if you’re using WordPress inserting a Google Map can be dead easy with the right plugin.
A note of caution, inserting Google maps into a WordPress website without a plugin can have unexpected results. Be sure to place the embed code in the HTML Editor, and never save your post or page while in the Visual Editor. Better yet, forget about embedding maps with html! Use one of these handy Google Maps plugins for WordPress. You’ll thank us later.
There are a variety of WordPress Google Map plugins that can add Google map functionality to your blog or website. Choosing the best is really just based on your personal needs. Here are 5 of our favorite plugins. What maps plugin do you use?
Although it comes with mixed reviews, SimpleMap offers some of the most features of any other Google maps WordPress plugin. Features include the ability to manage map locations, insert a Google map on any post or page, customize the appearance and give users the power to enter an address. It’s good for a basic user who wants to insert Google maps into their WordPress blog.
Google Maps Store Locator for WordPress
The Google Maps Store Locator for WordPress is, as the name suggests, a store / vendor location finder. The plugin is a good mapping tools for site owners that want to show multiple locations or let users search for a nearby store. First, enter all of your locations and addresses into the admin section. Then, install the plugin on a post or page. Voila, your users can enter a city, zip code or intersection to find the store closest to them. The store locator plugin is free. However, the developer also sells “themes” to customize the look and several specialized add-ons with premium features.
You can see a demo of this plugin on a website I did a while back that let’s users search for a community garden in Long Beach.
MapPress – Google Maps for WordPress
MapPress Easy Google Maps Plugin for WordPress is a highly rated plugin that again can easily be integrated for basic users. Again the plugin offers a variety of features and the developers continually ask users for ways they can improve it. Features include the ability to easily inserts Google maps into posts and pages, WYSIWYG during editing, custom text and html for markers/landmarks, map controls and directions from the page. Below, you’ll see some of the options you can set on the administrator side and then how it looks to the user.
The UMapper plugin goes beyond Google Maps allowing users to create and embed maps from: Microsoft Bing, Google Maps, Yahoo, OpenStreet and CloudMade. Another popular feature? Site owners can monetize their maps and make money by displaying advertisements.
Google Map Shortcode
The last WordPress Google map plugin I’ll mention is the Google Map Shortcode. This maps plugin is geared more towards advanced users, as it requires more technical knowledge. You’ll want to be familiar with using custom fields AND WordPress Shortcodes to make the most of this Plugin. That being said, this WordPress Google maps plugin, is the only one we found that lets you insert posts and pages as points on the map.
Keep in mind that doing anything cool with Google Maps will usually require an API key. These plugins are no exception. So, you might as well go get a Google API key now.