My prior blog post indicated I was next going to describe a mistake many real estate websites make when they display the detailed map for a listing. After starting to write that post I decided to push that topic back and first give a bit of background about Google URL maps. Knowing a bit about how Google URL maps are made will help you more easily understand the surprising map mistake being made by so many websites. I’ll describe that mistake in my next post.
Google URL maps v. Google API maps
Google URL maps are often full screen. A Google URL map is created by entering certain text in the search window of your browser. The browser search window is the very highest window in your browser. Repeat after me: No programming skill is needed to make a Google URL map - none - nada - zero - zilch. If you have never built a Google URL map before, this post will show you how. One way you can use such a map is to email it to a client as a followup after the client has expressed interest in a certain listing.
By contrast, Google API maps are often less than full screen and usually cannot be enlarged to fill the screen. Programming skill is definitely required to produce a Google API map. Usually a direct link to an API map cannot be emailed. One advantage to these maps is that you and the programmer working together can decide exactly what is going to appear on the map and how it will look.
Google URL maps: No programming required, quick to create, limited flexibility in controlling appearance.
Google API maps: Programming required, may be time-consuming to create depending on complexity, maximum flexibility in controlling the map’s appearance.
Let’s build a Google URL map
Copy the next line, paste it into your browser’s search bar and hit enter.
The search bar is typically the space one line high that is just under the File, Edit, View, etc buttons of your browser.
After you hit enter you should see a map of the USA. Congratulations! You just built your first map. See, I told you this didn’t require any programming.
Google URL map with marker at an address
Copy the next line, paste it into your browser’s search bar and hit enter
Howabouthat. You just built a map with the marker located at the White house.
Now build a map with the marker located at your house. Use the + sign as shown above. Also, it is a good idea to avoid spaces in your command.
Parameters for Google URL maps
Note the letter ‘q’ in the URL command you have been using. This letter is a “parameter” that is used to pass certain information to Google so it makes the map the way you want it made. Use the ‘q’ parameter to tell Google what to search for in making your map.
There are a number of other parameters that can be used to help make a Google URL map look the way you want it to look. One of the most useful ones is ‘z’ which controls the zoom level. Add these characters to the map you made of your house: &z=17
(I’m intentionally not making these maps clickable links since I want you to get used to the idea of making Google URL maps by entering the command into your browser’s search bar).
Now when you hit the enter key the map will be more zoomed in. A larger number will zoom in more. In some urban areas you can zoom in more than in other urban areas.
As you add parameters to your Google map URL command, do not use commas to separate the parameters. It is also a good idea to avoid using spaces in your command.
Another useful parameter is ‘t’. Use this one to control the type of map which appears. Here are the options:
Do you want your URL map to open in satellite mode? Just add &t=k to the command.
Equally useful is the ‘ll’ parameter (that’s LL in lowercase). This parameter stands for (big surprise) latitude longitude. Your map will be centered at the point you specify for the ll parameter. Here is a map that uses ll but does not use q. Notice that the map lacks any marker.
Here’s the same map with a q parameter. Now there’s a marker on the map.
In the prior map did you catch the fact that the q parameter can use either an address or a latitude-longitude?
Add a text balloon to your map
Think of all the real estate maps you have seen with some text that appears when you click the marker. Here’s how to do that with a Google URL map:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=38.708202,-77.086258(Mount Vernon - Home of George Washington)&z=17&t=k&ll=38.708202,-77.086258
The text for your marker balloon is part of the q parameter. At the end of the q parameter just add parenthesis with your text inside of them. When you click the marker on this map your text is displayed.
Hope you stop by again
Now that you know the basics about how a Google URL map is made, I can show you in my next post the mapping mistake that is being made by too many websites.
Help me help others
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