Adding maps to your WordPress blog post is really simple, you can just go to the Google Maps and get the embed code or use Google Maps API to quickly display static maps. But sometimes you want to do more with maps. For example, providing directions, adding different layers to your maps, or geo-tagging your content. Thankfully, there are many Maps Plugins for WordPress that can help you do all these things.
Google Maps API allows developers to build their own apps using the Google Maps. Using this API plugin authors have written some excellent plugins for WordPress. Some plugins are more feature rich than others and some are written to take advantage of some specific feature.
Google Maps All in One Plugin
The lite version or the free version of this plugin is available on official plugin repository. The full version is available at WPMU Dev for a small subscription fee. This plugin allows you to add a map while writing a post, add a map to any widget area in sidebar, footer, it allows you to set zoom level, units, images limit, and you can add CSS for alignment purposes. The only downside is that, if you are using the free version, it adds this ugly link at the end of the each map. Despite the ugly link back, this plugin is quite good. I liked the intuitive interface it offers to add your map. This interface alone simplifies the whole process and makes it quicker and easier for the user to add maps.
Comprehensive Google Maps Plugin
The comprehensive Google Map plugin is feature rich, well documented and uses the latest version of Google Maps API. However, it does not have a built in user-interface to create maps like in Google Maps All in One. A user is required to manually enter either the coordinates or an address, and they can’t see how the map will look without inserting the shortcode in the post and preview the post. Still it is a useful plugin for people who are comfortable doing this manually to gain more control over their maps. The options are quite good, and with little tweaking and configuration an intermediate/expert level WordPress user can use this plugin efficiently.
Comprehensive Google Map Plugin »
MapPress Easy Google Maps
MapPress is really an easy way to add Google Maps to your posts and pages. It is simple to use and has a nice interface that you can use to add maps. There are two versions of this plugin, paid and free. To add ‘Markers’ and other features to the maps you will have to get the Pro version. The plugin is well documented and the plugin developers also host a support forum where users can ask questions. Again, the one downside to this plugin is that the free version adds a link back to MapPress, which is fine if you have maps with just a couple of posts. But if you are adding maps with each post then you should get rid of this backlink by paying for the pro version.
Pronamic Google Maps
Pronamic Google maps is an awesome plugin. It has a simple user interface to add a map to your post or pages. It now uses shortcodes to add maps to your posts. However, it seems like the plugin author forgot to add an “Insert Map” button in their intuitive and easy to use interface. The shortcodes to add maps are really simple and you can adjust the height and width of your map within the shortcode.
[google-maps static=true label=M]
[google-maps width=200 height=200]
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Pronamic also provides flexibility for developers so that they can build custom post types to display maps. This plugin also supports Geo Microformats standards.
Basic Google Maps Placemarks
This plugin is not just for adding a quick map to a post or page on your WordPress website. Basic Google Maps PlaceMarks adds a map to your WordPress site where you can add Placemarks with custom icons, title and description. When clicked, each icon will show the title and description of the placemark. The Placemarks are actually a custom post type that this plugin creates. You can treat it just like any other post. You can add your map to a page and then display different Placemarks on that map with custom icons. To display custom icons, this plugin uses ‘featured image’ which you can upload when creating a placemark.
Let me give you an example scenario, lets imagine we are creating a World Map for school children with country flags as custom icons. Clicking on each flag will display title and description of that Placemark and we can add lots of information in the description. Awesome, isn’t it?
Bing Maps for WordPress
Google is not the only one providing maps. Bing Maps is also a nice alternative and Bing Maps for WordPress provides an easy way to add Bing Maps to your WordPress website. The plugin is easy to use if you are comfortable with editing shortcode to configure the maps. This should be easier as the plugin is well documented. One downside of the plugin is that it hasn’t been updated since December, 2010.
MapQuest MapMaker for WordPress
MapQuest MapMaker is a fun way to create your own maps. There is a plugin available for WordPress and it works wonderfully once you have figured out how to configure it properly. When I installed this plugin, buttons from my post editor disappeared. Apparantely, if you have disabled the visual editor for your posts then the plugin will misbehave. I enabled visual editor and there was nice little button in the post editor to create maps. I loved the things one can do with MapQuest, you can draw, place markers, create routes and add icons to places. I just wish that the plugin author/developers were a little more active. Give it a try, and if you like it please ask the developers to update the plugin.
Update: In response to my request on the forums, MapQuest has released an update to the plugin which resolves the issue with TinyMCE integration.
Adding a Quick Map Without Using a Plugin
In case you just want to add a quick map to a post, or a page and then don’t want to install any plugin. Then you can always embed a Google map iframe. Another way to add a map is to add a static map image using the Google Maps API.
5sec Google Maps
- no API keys, no setup, no code editing
- works in sidebars, posts, pages and custom post types out of the box
- full screen support
- directions to address support
- default shortcode, [gmap], can be changed
- multiple maps per post/page are supported
- 12 predefined markers/icons
- fully customizable HTML bubble/description
- uses local cache for Geocoding (address to lat/lng mapping) for max speed
- extensive documentation and examples
- works on WordPress versions 2.8 and newer
5Sec Google Maps »
Mapped contact form pro WordPress
A ajax contact form inside a google maps marker info window. Works for one or multiple locations. A different email address for every location can be configured. If only on location is on the map, the info window with the contact form opens when the map is loaded.
Mapped contact form pro WordPress »
Advanced Store Locator for WordPres
This advanced Store Locator enables you to add and manage all your locations and their related information, and making it easy for your users to search and locate your stores or businesses on a Google Map. This plugin comes with 2 type of display: on a Google Map or on a list. Your users can enter their own address to locate your closest stores. The plugin also supports a street view display of your location.
The great thing about WordPress is the abundance of plugins. I am sure that despite my best efforts, I might have missed a few more plugins worth mentioning. Please share your experience with these plugins or any other maps plugin that you have used by leaving a comment below.