Maps have many uses on a website and this guide covers some of the interesting things you can do with Google Maps and WordPress, this guide should give you some ideas on how you can add similar functionality to your site.
There are many reasons why you might want to add a map to your site, from adding more detail to your contact pages and helping your visitors find their way to your location, through to sharing information about your favourite places in an area.
Travel bloggers can also benefit from some of the tools featured in this post and by incorporating a Google Map into your site’s design you can add extra levels of interactivity to your navigation and menu systems.
Add a Map with Your Own Pins and Markers
MapPress Easy Google Maps is the most downloaded free plugin of this type for WordPress and is a good choice for adding Google Maps to your posts. Once installed, this plugin adds an extra panel to the Edit Post page in WordPress and allows you to create a Google Map by searching for a location and then dropping a pin. The size of the map can be set by choosing from some pre-sets or by entering your own height and width to suit your post layout.
Using this plugin it is very easy to add your own markers to the maps, which you can also add HTML to including links and pictures.
The possibilities are endless with this free plugin and it would make a great addition to a photographic or travel site, allowing you to add markers to a map and then include photos from the marker locations. A map created with this plugin could also be used as a home page menu with links on each marker that take the user to blog posts written about that specific location.
There is also a pro version of MapPress which has even more great features but the free version should be enough for most people to get started with at least.
Direct Clients to your Location
Google Maps is great for finding out the distance between two points and the quickest way to make the journey, so why not add this feature to your WordPress site so that potential clients can see how far your offices are from their location? The WordPress Google Maps Contact Route plugin is a nifty little tool that lets you do just that, right from the comfort of your WordPress site.
The maps from this plugin are ideal for putting on a contact page and letting any potential clients plot their journey to a specific location such as your offices or place of business. You can let your visitors choose their mode of transport and once they’ve entered the start point for their journey, the plugin, using data from Google Maps, will tell them the distance and give them directions.
While journey routes can be plotted with some of the other plugins on this page, this one puts this functionality right to the front and centre of the map, making it ideal for those who want this feature easily accessible to their site visitors.
Put Maps at the Heart of Your Site
If you want to go all out and build your WordPress site around Google Maps and incorporate multiple maps on your website for whatever purpose, then turning to the Mapify all-inclusive WordPress theme could be your best bet.
The theme allows you to display a map of your choice on the homepage of your WordPress site, or other pages, and thanks to the ability to add your own images for the map, it doesn’t have to be the standard Google Map.
Custom pinpoints and popup tool tips can be added to any maps including the maps of your own creation or when displaying Google Maps. When adding your own maps, you can still use the familiar functionality of Google Maps such as the zooming and panning actions that your visitors should already know how to use.
If you run a business that has multiple stores or locations then using this theme can allow you to display large maps on your site that can show multiple locations with custom information on each marker.
Travel log websites can make great use of the Mapify theme or plugin and bring Google Maps to a heart of any blog. This would allow travel bloggers to easily list locations and destinations and provide links to other posts related to those locations as well as display image galleries and other related content.
Not only does the theme itself look great but the map functionality makes creating unique and interesting sites a simple prospect. If your website or online marketing strategy features anything to do with locations, maps or geographic information then this theme should be of interest to you.
For a live demo and more information visit the Mapify website
Add a Map in 5 Seconds
If time is of the essence and you want to be able to quickly add Google Maps to your site with the least amount of fuss then the 5sec Google Maps plugin is just what you are looking for.
By typing in a shortcode such as [gmap]Times Square, New York, USA[/gmap] in one of your posts, a Google Map centred on that location will be displayed.
If that sounds too simple and like it might result in a lack of functionality then think again. By adding extra parameters to the shortcode you can display more detailed maps. For example this shortcode:
[gmap fullscreen=1 show_description="true" icon="star" description="White House|The official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States (DIRECTIONS)."]White House, Washington, USA[/gmap]
will display this map, complete with custom marker and link to the directions options:
There are a lot of other shortcode parameters which can be used to customise how the Google Maps are displayed in your WordPress posts. While this is good as it creates lots of scope for doing creative things with the maps on your site, keeping track of all the possible options is another thing to remember in the growing list of WordPress tweaks and configurations that running of a busy site can entail.
Create a Clickable Map for Your WordPress Site
While this option doesn’t use Google Maps, adding a clickable map to your site is a great way to enhance the navigation system in place. Perhaps your business has branches in many cities, or your site deals with the laws in different states. By adding a clickable map to your site, you can make it easy for your readers to jump right into the information that is most local and relevant to them.
Adding a map of this type is probably easier than you might expect thanks to a free website called Create a Clickable Map. The tool is quite limited in terms of the types of maps that can be used, but use of the main map, which covers the states of the USA, is free, while access to other maps comes at a cost.
This map tool outputs the HTML code which will need to be added to your WordPress post or pages and for those that need a clickable map of the USA, Australia, Canada, Europe or Japan, it’s a good choice.
Another option is the Interactive Map of the US Regions free plugin which allows you to create a clickable map that divides the USA up into regions rather than states.
Using a plugin like the free Leaflet Maps Marker allows you to easily add spots to a Google Map which can be displayed on your WordPress site. While some of the other plugins featured so far also allow you to do this, the main focus of the Leaflet Maps Marker plugin is to allow you to do this and it does it very well.
People have used this plugin for many purposes ranging from plotting the best skiing areas in a region, pining sightings of the Easter Bunny and listing all the attractions along the coast in Playas de la Comunitat Valenciana.
As this plugin is all about the map markers, there are lots of different markers to choose from to allow you to easily indicate different items and points of interest on the maps, making it ideal for many purposes from listing public toilets in a town centre or highlighting the best coffee shops in a certain area.
If you want to use a Google Map on your WordPress site that you can add your favourite spots to as well as provide helpful information to your visitors on certain services and amenities that are on offer, then this plugin is a great choice.
While there is an almost endless list of Google Maps plugins for WordPress, both of the free and premium variety, this post has attempted to highlight some of the different things you can do with a map and WordPress to add extra functionality to your site and provide an more useful service to your visitors, as well as creating interesting and slightly unique navigational systems.
If you know of any sites, WordPress or otherwise doing interesting things with Google Maps then please let us know.