Google Maps Platform — your API key and why you need it

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Every Internet user knows Google Maps. It’s one of the most popular services we turn to everyday, making use of its functionalities. Particularly a wide range of businesses, which operate from a Profile on Google My Business, use the online maps regularly.

Few people realise, however, that this Mountain View tech giant offers far more beyond the classic Google Maps searches. Businesses can also utilise Google Maps Platform, or Google Maps API, which let you embed maps on any website.

This feature should be of interest especially to small local businesses as well as brick and mortar stores. Here, you will find out more about Google Maps API and what to do to generate your own API key in order to develop your business further.

What is Google Maps Platform?

Google Maps Platform allows users to utilize Google-made maps on their own website. In order to share a map, you need to create a map-specific API key and then embed it into your own website source code. You can also utilise such maps in your other digital products, such as applications.

According to Google themselves, currently their service covers 99% of the earth’s surface. Over a billion active users make use of the functionality every month. So powerful a tool is now yours to use. It takes but a few easy steps to fully enjoy a customised map within your own website.

Why is Google Maps Platform essential for business?

Embedding a map onto your company official website (for example under Contact us tab) is a recommended practice not only to cultivate your customer service, but also to optimise for better search results. Naturally, you may embed a customised map purely for utilitarian reasons, but it could also help showcase your business as part of your website design and online image. 

Google Maps Platform offers three main products, which you can use simultaneously or one at a time. 

  • Google Maps — as the name suggests, the service provides online maps. You can set such maps onto both your web/mobile app and your business website, for example under Contact us tab, so as to make it easier for your potential customers to find your location. 
  • Google Routes — provide your customers with optimal directions for example to your point of sales. The service takes into account current traffic information, but also allows users to specify travel mode.
  • Google Places — provides detailed information about a specific location point on the map — such as address, name, customer reviews or opening hours.

If you opt for all three products together, you receive a complete set of Google Maps functionalities. However, you can also reach them through our website and app.

How to create Google Maps API Key?

As mentioned, in order to use Google Maps Platform, you will need to create an API key. The key will additionally make it possible to customize the map, for example change colour marking or pinpoint locations which are important to your business.

Generating the key is an easy, intuitive process, just follow the instructions below.

Google Maps Billing Account

Before we proceed to create the API key, though, let’s talk about a billing account. To use Google Maps Platform you have to set up your billing account.

Currently Google grants a 200 dollar monthly credit to all its users. The service is free of charge within the credit limit. If you exceed the limit you will be charged in accordance with the current pricing model, which is why you are required to set up a billing account.

Set up your billing account and create your API key

Go to (remember to log in to your Google Cloud Platform first), click GET STARTED (in the upper right-hand coroner), and then:

  1. In the pop-up that appear, select the products that are of interest to you — Maps, Routs and/or Places. Any given combination is allowed, so don’t worry, just check the products which best suit your needs.
  1. If you already have an existing project, go ahead and select it; otherwise, you will need to create a new project to proceed. 
  1. Next, let’s set up and attach your billing account. Create the billing account, enter you payment details (such as company name and address, country, primary contact data and a valid credit card number), then click confirm.
  1. You will see your API key on the screen.

If for some reason the key doesn’t appear automatically, open the top menu on the left (3 horizontal bars in the top left corner), click APIs & Services, and then Credentials. In the pop-up that appears click Create credentials, next select API key.

Finally, make sure you restrict your key. Go to APIs & Services again, choose Credentials. You will see the newly generated key on the list of the API keys. Click the black pencil icon to Edit the API key.

In  API key restrictions page select HTTP referrers (websites). You will see a Web site restrictions section appear, click the Add item button.

Next, enter the web site address, where the map will be embedded, and click Done. Finally, click the Save button at the bottom of the page.

That’s it — your API key is now restricted!

Be aware, that if you would like to embed a dynamic interactive map onto your website, you need to enable the following APIs before you generate the key:

  • Directions API,
  • Google Maps JavaScript API,
  • Distance Matrix API,
  • Geocoding API,
  • Google Street View Image API,
  • Google Places API.

You will find them under APIs and Services / Library / Maps.

How do I add Google Maps API key to my website?

Once you have the API key, you need to insert it into the code of the website which is to display the map. There are two ways of doing that: you can insert the key yourself or have the web site developer embed the key. Choose the solution that you are most comfortable with, depending on your technical skills.

We hope this guide proves useful. Good luck and see you on Google Maps!