When Google announces a big change, our ears perk up. But sometimes the effect of those changes can take months or even a year to play out, without further notice.

Take Google’s decision to charge for functions in its Google Maps Application Program Interface (API) platform. This is a function that Google previously offered for free and that many businesses and organizations used on their websites to give site visitors direction to their location. You’ll find these maps on millions of “Contact Us” pages. It’s a functionality that’s particularly popular for small businesses who use them on their WordPress sites.

We use the Google Maps API in most of the websites Vela Agency builds. It’s effective, well supported and familiar to anyone who spends time on the internet.

And if you are a small business, that’s probably all you need to know.

But if you are a large business or organization, one that puts on major events or manages dozens of websites, this change is one you’ll notice on your credit card statement, if you haven’t already.

When Google announced that it was going to charge for this formerly free service, it offered a “free trial” credit. Here’s how Google explained the credit:

When you create your first billing account, you are automatically enrolled in Google Cloud.

When you create a billing account, you are automatically eligible for the Google Maps Platform recurring $200 monthly credit (see Pricing for Maps, Routes, and Places). The monthly credit applies toward each account you create (if you have two billing accounts, both get a $200 monthly credit).

Note: When you create your first billing account, the Google Cloud Platform free trial also applies. During the free trial, charges are first deducted from the recurring $200 monthly credit. If charges exceed $200 in a given month, the exceeded amount is deducted from any amount remaining from the free trial $300 credit.”

So basically, if you don’t have too many users accessing the map on your website, you may not pay anything. However, if you have lots of visitors and use up your reoccurring monthly credit, you can expect to be charged. Google has a pricing calculator to help you figure out if your business or organization is likely to be assessed a billing fee.

Google also lets you set daily request limits to avoid unexpected charges.

Change is Hard

Why did Google start charging for something that used to free? Well, each time someone is shown a map with Google maps on your web page, a connection is made with the Google Maps API. The API builds the map so that it loads quickly. It also costs Google money because its servers have to make the map calculations each time it makes a map for a user.

A few months back, businesses across the world began to report that their mapping functions were no longer working. Most figured out how to fix the problem, which involved installing an API key. The key allowed a connection to be made to the Google Maps API so that maps load quickly. It also helps Google determine how many times users access a map on your website, which determines the fee Google might charge for this service.

Want to know more?

The team at Vela Agency can help you prepare for and navigate Google platform changes with informed ecommerce website development. Contact us today about our web design and redesign services.