Does your website feel like it’s missing something? You already know that visuals like infographics are a great way to appeal to your visitors, but maybe you need something more than a static image. Google Maps might be just the thing you need. The application’s interactivity, shareability and all-around usefulness make it the perfect tool for increasing user engagement. In this post we look at different creative ways to use Google Maps on your website.
However, it’s not a good idea to just tack Google Maps on your site, or treat it like a sidebar ad. For Google Maps to work to your advantage, it needs to add something to your website visitors’ experience. To help you with that, here’s a quick guide.
1. Lay It on Your Home Page
Why: If you want to give directions to your visitors right away, simply embed Google Maps on your home page. To illustrate, FindaPetWash — shown below — is all about, well, finding a pet wash, so it has a map in a place where visitors can easily find that map.
How: Use this step-by-step guide written by the Google developers themselves, or build a custom map from scratch. You can also hire a web designer in case tinkering with code makes you feel uncomfortable.
2. Create a Separate “Maps” Section
Why: If you cram a map, along with all your company information, into your home page, your visitors might get overwhelmed, click the “Back” button and never come back.
How: Create a separate page for your Google Map, and make it as detailed as possible (see below). That way, your map will be more useful for visitors, and that extra page won’t go to waste.
3. Turn Your Background Into a Google Map
Why: If your company is all about “going places,” so to speak, this is the perfect way to utilize Google Maps. Also, a map can breathe life into an otherwise plain-looking background.
How: First, add a Google Map to your home page. Then, follow the steps outlined in this article on how to set your map as a background image. Don’t forget to ensure that the other visual elements in your site jive with the background.
4. Complement Your Map With Photos
Why: Maps by themselves aren’t interesting, unless you’re a traveler, cartographer or explorer. But when good-looking photos accompany those maps, they become much more appealing to the average visitor.
How: Upload your photos into your Google Picasaweb account, then follow the instructions in the “Add Photos” section of this guide. Be careful not to add too many photos, though; it might overwhelm your visitors.
5. Put It on Your Contact Page
Why: This is probably the best way to use a Google Map. If your “Contact” page has a complete address and a map, your visitor can find where you are in a jiffy.
How: If your website is hosted on WordPress.org, use this plugin to integrate your contact form with Google Maps. Alternatively, hire a web designer to personalize the page for you.
Google Maps isn’t just a handy travel aid anymore. Like other sophisticated applications, it can make a significant and positive impact on your bottom line — provided you use it wisely, and in a way that enhances user experience without feeling gimmicky.