Google Maps API Pricing Change: What It Means for Real Estate Websites
August 19, 2018 by Lucas Lechuga
They say, "Nothing lasts forever"...and I guess that even applies to Google products, specifically Google Maps which, up until recently, had been free for website owners to use as they wished. This past May, Google announced the launch of their new Google Maps Platform along with a new pay-as-you-go pricing structure targeting businesses which deliver to their website users Maps, Routes, and/or Places. As a real estate website owner, I've learned the hard way the negative impact that this new pricing change has on highly trafficked real estate websites. Under the new pricing plan, my Google Maps API bill went from $0 to $1,500+ per month.
Previously, Google allowed users of its Maps API 25,000 free page loads per day. As of July 16th, the day on which Google's new pricing plan went into effect for its Maps API, highly trafficked websites, such as this one, began being billed $5.60 per thousand Map loads. While that price may not seem high at first glance, it quickly adds up. This year, the Miami Condo Investments website has been averaging 402,000 pageviews per month, with roughly 70 percent of those pageviews loading a map via Google Maps API. With those figures in mind, a simple calculation would show my Google Maps Platform bill to average $1,576 per month...and that cost is certain to climb as this website continues on its high-growth trajectory. This time last year, the Miami Condo Investments website was averaging 335,000 pageviews per month, a 20% year-over-year increase.
The good news is that Google credits its API users $200 to begin each month. That amount is certain to cover the majority of API users delivering Dynamic Maps to their website users. However, for highly trafficked websites, $200 doesn't go very far. For example, earlier this month, from August 1st through August 10th, I blew through $500...$500 for maps that had been completely free up until recently. Fortunately, Google does allow API users to set daily cap limits on the number of Map loads per day. I have since incorporated such a limit, capping map loads at 1,150 per day. Once my website hits that limit, the following error message appears in a box above the map: This page can't load Google Maps correctly. Additionally, in the background, the map is watermarked with: For development purposes only. Not an ideal scenario but a good temporary solution until our next website update rolls out towards the end of this year. We're currently exploring alternatives to Google Maps API such as TomTom, MapTiler, and OpenStreetMap. Another option would be to load the Google Map on-demand via a "view property map" link.