How much did the Google Maps API prices increase?  The  true cost is hidden for many users of the ubiquitous Google Maps API as Google is weaning you onto a potential 9,000% price increase by giving everyone a $200 per-month credit towards API billing through September 2018.   For many API users the true sticker shock will come when that $200 credit expires.

Google Maps API Prices Increase by 9,500% for our account in September.

Our fully managed locator service has already seen the impact.   When the $200 credit expires our expenses will increase 9,570%

Up until July 2018 most users were able to get by with no official Google API key at all.   Those that started a site in the past year needed an API key but likely fell under the “free usage limits” and never saw a bill; even if they enabled the older “Pay-As-You-Go” system under Google.

Today everyone must have an API key and must have an active billing account.    Most will start seeing some sort of billing on their Google accounts with a credit of up to $200 to offset the expense.  For those that look at their Google Billing account instead of waiting for a surprise Google charge to appear on their business credit cards they’ll see what kind of monthly billing their site should expect.

Mitigating Google Maps Expenses

For Store Locator Plus™ users there are two ways to mitigate expenses.

The first is to use our Fully Managed Service, MySLP.  This service covers the fees with Google.    For those users that do not need SEO friendly store pages provided by the locator this is a great option.   The monthly account fees are very likely to be far less than Google will be charging in September.

WordPress Plugin Users

For those electing to stay with the WordPress plugin option there are things you can do to save on the Geocoding expenses on your account.  Geocoding is responsible for 35% of the Google billing fees with the Google Maps API on most accounts.     Unfortunately there is not much you can do to eliminate the map rendering fees — though we are contemplating open-source solutions for our Premier plugin.

For WordPress users you can reduce Google Geocoding requests with these tricks:

Enable the location sensor with the Power add on.   Users will not have to enter their address which incurs a $0.0056 charge for each address entered.

If you have limited locations set your Center Map At, Radius, and Locations Shown At Start to show all the locations when the map first loads.  Hide the search form so users cannot type in a new address.  This can all be done with the Experience add on.

When updating locations with thePower import, only import NEW and changed locations.   Delete locations using bulk actions for those you no longer need.  This can significantly reduce Geocoding calls.   It is much faster and far less expensive than deleting every single location with a bulk delete and reloading an entire list.

If you need to delete all locations and perform a fresh import,  consider starting with a Store Locator Plus™ location export.    This will ensure the latitude and longitude are included — skipping the geocoding for those locations.   Update that spreadsheet with the revised location data.    Delete the Store ID (sl_id) column before saving back to a CSV file.   Import the updated CSV file with latitude/longitude on most locations (it is OK if new locations do not have lat/long).     If you are creating the CSV file from an external source, try adding a latitude and longitude field to the source data; enter coordinates for locations you know (you can get them from SLP after an initial import if necessary), and make sure the lat/long fields are in your CSV file that you are about to import into Store Locator Plus.

Managed Service (MySLP) Users

For those on MySLP, you don’t have to worry about the costs but the above tricks will speed up your site imports.