Before we start looking at any plugins, it’s good to review the way Google Maps work.
There are several components in the Google Maps API family, all of which can be found on the Google Maps API Family page. When working with WordPress, we are mainly interested in two of these APIs:
Static maps are practically images with no functionality. Including a static map into your page is as simple as inserting some HTML. There are several parameters that can be set which you can find an explanation of here.
Now that we know how Google Maps work, let’s take a look at the best Google Maps plugins for WordPress.
Toolset Maps is designed to make it easy to build and display detailed maps wherever you want on your website.
Toolset Maps come from the team behind Toolset which specializes in adding some of the most important features for building advanced websites – such as maps – without wasting time on complex PHP coding.
With Toolset Maps, you can completely customize your maps with features including:
- Results on a map with multiple filters
- A distance filter
- Add custom field addresses
- Customize the controls for your maps
- Customize your markers – including with clusters and different colors for different types of content
- Display maps in multiple languages using WPML
- Present search results on a map
- Focus the map on a marker
- Display post fields when you click on a marker
- Allow users to pick up a pinpoint location from the map
Toolset Maps is integrated with the major themes and plugins so you will have no problem implementing it on your website.
WP Google Maps
The easiest to use Map Plugin! Create custom Google Maps with high quality markers containing locations, descriptions, images and links. Add your customized Google map to your WordPress posts and/or pages quickly and easily with the supplied shortcode. No fuss. no iFrames and super easy to use!
- WP Google Maps uses the latest Google Maps API (V3)
- Super easy to use, no coding required!
- Create as many map markers as you need by simply typing in the address.
- Edit your markers with the click of a button.
- Google Maps Streetview supported.
- Define your own width, height and zoom level for your Google Map.
- Create a map in less than a 30 seconds!
- WordPress 3.0 friendly.
- No advertising or links.
Maps Marker Pro
Maps Marker Pro allows you to pin, organize and share your favourite spots and tracks throughout your WordPress powered site easily. You can use maps from OpenStreetMap, Google Maps, Google Earth, Bing Maps or custom maps and additionally display your spots and tracks in innovative ways like through augmented-reality browsers.
The list of features on offer in Maps Marker Pro is very thorough. It includes such things as using integrated address search (Google Places API) to quickly find your places, 800 custom free map icons, popup description text or images for each marker, and simple shortcodes to incorporate the maps into any posts, pages, widgets or templates.
You can show directions to your locations using various services including Google Maps and YourNavigation. Some of the other features on offer only with this Pro version include minimaps, mobile optimised maps, HTML5 fullscreen maps, custom Google Maps styling and much more.
Mapify.it – Plugin
Mapify.it allows 100% control over a map anywhere within your WordPress site, whether you choose to stick with Google Maps, or to use your very own images. It enhances Google Maps with custom pin-point graphics, limitless locations, and pop-up galleries, but also allows the use of ANY custom map image of your choosing, all while keeping the great zoom (2 levels of zoom with custom images, unlimited in Google Maps mode) and pan effect of Google maps!
MapPress provides an easy way to create great-looking Google Maps and driving directions in your blog. The feature I like best from this plugin is the ability to drag and drop a marker onto the map. This is a great feature that is not found in any other plugins. There are loads of options you can set in its options panel.
MapPress also has a PRO version (paid plugin) which gives you extra features like:
- Marker icons: set different icons for each marker. More than 200 icons are included – or you use your own!
- Mashups: easily add a “mashup” overview map link to individual blog posts
- Widgets: easily add maps or mashups to your sidebar with MapPress widgets
- Custom fields: automatically create maps from addresses stored in custom fields
- Marker list: add a clickable table listing the markers on each map
- Remove link: remove the MapPress Pro link from the map
Although this is really a great plugin, I don’t like the fact that it inserts a ‘Powered by MapPress’ link at the bottom of your map.
Interactive World Maps
This is a WordPress plugin to create as many maps as you want, with interactive and colored markers, continents, countries or regions.
You will be able to show hundreds of different kinds of maps, already included:
- A map of the entire world.
- A continent or a sub-continent. (Africa, Europe, Americas, Asia, Oceania and all their sub-continents)
- A country. (virtually all the countries in the world are included, featuring the most requested: USA, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Brazil, India, Australia…)
- A country divided by its regions.
- A state in the United States.
- The United States divided by metropolitan areas.
- A state in the United States divided by metropolitan areas.
Where to use it?
This plugin is perfect for:
- Travel Websites – Create maps to display destinations and link to pages about a specific location
- Traveler Website – Display a map with destinations/countries visited
- Multinational Companies – Create maps of the cities/countries where they operate
- Small Companies – Show the location of the business in a country map
- NGO’s – Create maps of NGO projects around the world
- Infographics – Display simple to read maps with various information
- And much more other applications! Be creative!
This plugin lets you save location information with posts, pages, and other WordPress objects. These can then be presented on interactive Google maps in many ways.
Geo Mashup, like WordPress, has a simple interface for basic features, templates for control of output, and APIs for endless customization options. Some popular features are:
- Use Google Maps v2 or v3, or OpenStreetMap as a map provider.
- Global maps can present your posts in many ways They can show just one category or custom post type, for example Clicking on a post marker shows a customizable summary of the post or page in an info window
- Location can be saved for all post types (including pages) users, and comments
- Synchronize Geodata with the Geo location mobile client and other plugins
- Support for both standard WordPress shortcodes and template tags to add maps to your site.
- Reverse geocoding to fill in address information for locations
- GeoRSS automatically added to feeds
- Attach KML files to posts and pages
- Connect category markers with a colored line
Google Maps is distinguished with its ease of use, live preview function, built-in icon maker feature,store locator function, various available map themes and skins, and wide options for customization. It supports road, traffic, satellite, terrain and hybrid map styles and enables you to add polygon, polyline, circle and rectangle overlays on the maps. The plugin comes with directions feature, which allows you to suggest routes to different points with bicycle, traffic and transit modes. You can add unlimited number of markers on the maps and create custom marker icons that will best match your website’s tone and feel.
- Responsive design
- Unlimited markers
- Live preview possibility
- Customizable map themes and skins
- Custom icon builder
- Advanced marker listing options
- Store locator
- User geolocation
- Advanced layer support
Interactive Map Builder for WordPress
The Interactive Map Builder is a plugin for WordPress that enables you to create interactive maps for your blog. You can configure an extensive set of options to fit the look and feel of your website.
There are many possible regions to display on a map. For example, you can create a map of the whole world, of any continent, of subcontinents like Western Europe or North America, of any country (there are more than 200 to choose from, for example: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy…), of any US-State, and more.
Other features on offer with this plugin include the ability to display country, state & province, as well as metro borders, the ability to highlight regions or add markers, as well as map templates to add special behavior to the map when a region or marker is clicked.
Once the map is saved, it can be inserted anywhere in your posts and pages using the shortcode.
No matter which Google Maps plugin you use, bear in mind the issue of performance. You are already depending on a third party, Google, to provide a lot of information to your pages, which can sometimes cause delays. To keep the user experience satisfying, you should do everything you can to ensure that your own site is as snappy as possible.
The advice we always give is to make sure you get properly resourced hosting in place before you launch. We recommend two hosts that we have seen work out well for our readers, the choice between them comes down to money:
If you are on a tight budget, SiteGround has a good reputation for well-managed and well-supported shared hosting at a good price. They are by far the best at that price level, consider in particular their GoGeek level.
If, on the other hand, absolute reliability and performance are more important to you than price, WP Engine provides some of the best managed WordPress hosting, I use them for many of my most important sites. They even work out significantly cheaper than other managed WordPress hosts if you take advantage of the exclusive discount we have arranged for the readers of WP Mayor which, surprisingly, you can use in addition to their usual annual discount: