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 something like the following into your html:
There are several parameters that can be changed in the code above, and you can find an explanation of these parameters here.
Now that we know how Google Maps work, let’s take a look at the best Google Maps plugins for WordPress:
Mapify.it – Plugin
(Not yet compatible with WordPress 4.0 as of November 2014)
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 is by far the most popular Google Maps plugin for WordPress, being downloaded more than 150,000 times. It is probably the easiest 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.
5sec Google Maps
The author of this plugin describes it as follows: No setup. No code. No bulls**t. Just maps! [gmap]your address[/gmap]
We agree, it is really easy to use and a top choice if you just want to include a map with your address, no fancy stuff.
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.
Interactive World Maps
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!
Pronamic Google Maps
This is a really excellent plugin that provides a clean interface within your pages, posts or custom post types, where you can insert the Title, Description, Latitude and Longitude of your point. Once you enter this information you also get a real-time preview of your map, very useful. You can then choose the level of zoom or positioning of the map using your mouse on the map preview, and this will be saved when you save your post/page.
One downside of this plugin is that you have to add some code to your theme’s files in order for it to work. The instructions can be found here. The reason for this extra step is that the developers of this plugin chose not to use shortcodes:
“This plugin does not work with the WordPress shortcode API. Although it’s an very powerful technique, it’s not always very user friendly. Not all users understand the shortcodes.”
So what you need to do to get this plugin to work is open your theme’s PHP file for displaying posts, or pages, and add the following code:
'width' =&amp;gt; 290 ,
'height' =&amp;gt; 200
The parameters are thus chosen within the code above, you can specify the width and height of your map. I would actually prefer if these settings where selectable from the plugin’s options page, but again the developers chose not to put these options there in order not to pollute the WordPress database. I would tend to disagree as saving these settings in the database and using an options page would make the plugin more user friendly and it would also ensure that the plugin would work the same on any theme you choose. At present if you change theme the plugin won’t work, unless you enter the code above into each new theme you want to use.
WP Geo is another popular plugin and like MapPress gives you the ability to drag and drop the marker on the map. It has a very clean interface and a good set of options. It also works with Custom Post Types.
Two downsides of the plugin are:
- It uses the V2 API, which requires a key (I expect this to be fixed in the next version).
- You cannot enter HTML into the marker’s info bubble.
Comprehensive Google Map Plugin
One of our readers has pointed us in the direction of this plugin, which we had missed in our review. This is another amazing Google maps plugin, with a very clean interface, definitely one to check out before making your final decision.
The Google maps widget that comes with this plugin is especially useful, you can see it in action on Alyona Travels (in the sidebar).
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
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.
WP Locate has a simple purpose – directing your customers to your location in the simplest and most convenient way possible. It’s a compact plugin that lets you add a visual representation of your location on your site.
You can add your location in no time using easy shortcodes to embed Google maps in no time. Once you select the options you want for the location, map output, map height and zoom level, a shortcode is generated and you can use it anywhere you’d like on your site.
There are two options for the style of your map, either an Iframe map or an Image map. The Iframe map can be of any size and the user will have the ability to zoom in or out. The Image map is a static map, meaning the user has no zooming options.
With both styles you can also choose whether to display a Roadmap or a Satellite Image map, besides some other minor features such as modifying the pointer size and colour, map height, map width and even zoom level.
While MapPress retains its title as the most downloaded and most popular Google Maps plugin for WordPress, there are now a few excellent challengers. If you don’t want to pay for MapPress Pro and don’t want a ‘Powered by..’ link on your map consider using similar plugins such as ‘Pronamic Google Maps’ or ‘WP Geo’
UPDATE: Some plugins from the original list have been removed as of October 2014 since they were either removed from the plugin repository or not updated for a long period of time. Some other great plugins have been added to our list.
UPDATE: It’s also important to note that Mapify.it is not currently compatible with WordPress 4.0.
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