#2 How to make Google URL maps - No programming needed

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Property Line Maps
Second in a series

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.

To summarize:

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.
http://maps.google.com/maps
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
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=1600+Pennsylvania+Avenue+NW+Washington+DC

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
For example:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=1600+Pennsylvania+Avenue+NW+Washington+DC&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:
Map: &t=m
Satellite: &t=k
Hybrid: &t=h
Terrain: &t=p

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.
http://maps.google.com/maps?z=15&t=k&ll=38.009977,-78.453047

Here’s the same map with a q parameter. Now there’s a marker on the map.
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=38.009977,-78.453047&z=15&t=k&ll=38.009977,-78.453047

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

If you found this post helpful, then please flag it as one that the AR staff should consider showing on their homepage. Thanks.

Comments (9)

Ginger Moore
Wilkinson & Associates Realty - Gastonia, NC

Hi Joseph,  Nice informative article here.  I love reading about google.  Thanks for sharing

Oct 24, 2009 09:57 AM
Pat Champion
John Roberts Realty - Eustis, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

Great information I have flagged so I can go back later to get information. Thanks for sharing this information.

Oct 24, 2009 09:58 AM
Barb Van Stensel
Chicago, IL

Thank you for sharing.  It's alot to read but you've made it simple.

Oct 24, 2009 09:58 AM
Mercedes E. Santana
Santana Property Group - New York, NY
Investment Properties

Joseph, this simply explained lesson is a valuable tool for my business. Its also an impressive way to follow up with a client who is interested in a particular property. It was in fact quite easy to follow your directions. Thanks.

Oct 24, 2009 10:17 AM
Ted Tyndall
Davidson Realty Inc. - Saint Augustine, FL
I will help You find the Home YOU want to Buy

Joseph, thanks for the information. Very easy to follow.

Oct 24, 2009 01:05 PM
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

You made this easy for people to understand -- thanks much.

Oct 24, 2009 02:43 PM
Dave Roberts
Healdsburg Sotheby's International Realty - Healdsburg, CA

Lots of good information in that post. I do maps all the time, but I still learned new things. Thanks.

Nov 19, 2009 02:46 AM
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

I am bookmarking this to go check it out again. Thanks for the detailed information.

Dec 11, 2009 11:34 AM
John Mosier
Realty ONE Group Mountain Desert - Prescott, AZ
Prescott's Patriot Agent 928 533-8142

Thanks for your post, Joseph. I learned a lot from your post.

Jun 21, 2012 05:48 AM