Google Maps is one of, if not the biggest, readily accessible and free online map services in the world. The product – like the Google search engine – belongs to Alphabet Inc. and offers users many different services. On the one hand, the maps service can be used for your own location determination, on the other, the tool offers navigation options. With Google Maps, ways can be found from point A to point B. Here users can choose whether they are going by foot, by bike, by public transport or by car.
Functions of Google Maps
In order to determine the location of a user, Google Maps can use both GPS data in smartphones and mobile radio cells. Location determination is more precise with the help of GPS navigation.
- Location determination: Users with smartphones can determine their position with Google Maps. Generally, an internet connection is needed for this.
- Route planner: Google Maps can display various routes. The tool uses various data for this. Routes for pedestrians, cyclists, car drivers, public transport or airplanes are possible. Maps receive the data for public transport and airlines from the respective service providers via a special API.
- Search for shops, restaurants or companies: Maps works similarly to a conventional Google search, only related to maps and areas.
- Rating of places: Registered users can rate places, restaurants or companies via Google Maps.
- Integration into Google search results: If Google Maps data is integrated into search results, visitors receive information on opening times or the frequenting of places. The ratings of other users are also displayed.
- Google Earth: This is the software of the map service that can downloaded for free as an app or program for PC. Google Earth works similarly to a digital globe with a zoom function. Users can zoom in from the external view of the globe to retail stores.
- Google Street View: This service makes it possible to view places on your screen even before your actual visit. For this Google regularly sends a car around the streets of major cities or regions around the world. These camera cars record each street in 360 degrees.
- Off-line maps: With the app the maps can often also be used offline. The desired map area must be downloaded in advance.
- App for Android and iOS: Google Maps is most frequently used with the corresponding app on smartphones.
Development of Google Maps
Google’s online map has been on the market since 2005. The service started with satellite data of commercial providers. Users can still choose between a map, satellite or hybrid view today. Around a year after the publication of Google Maps, Germany was also mapped online.
Further development stages:
- 2007: Since this year users have been able to create their own routes with Google Maps and print them out. The tool has also been used for determining your own location ever since. In the same year Google Maps was enriched with data from local public transport. Back then, this gave users the opportunity to display routes by bus or train, including departure and arrival times, in selected cities. Today this feature is available for many cities and regions worldwide and is permanently implemented in the tool.
- 2008: Google begins with the integration of real-time traffic data into the map service. This data allows high traffic levels to be illustrated on the road map, for example.
- 2009: Introduction of turn-by-turn navigation. This made Google Maps a fully fledged, online-based navigation system.
- 2010: Start of Street View. This not only recorded roads in cities, but the photos including the houses can also be viewed online. This means it is now possible to virtually travel through regions and cities worldwide.
- 2011: This is the year “Google Indoor” was begun. Here museums or public places can have their interiors mapped. This allows users to navigate using their screens and orientate themselves.
- 2012: The Google Maps app is available for Apple devices with iOS. In the same year, Google began to travel the world with a 360-degree camera. The results are travels to Mount Everest or Venice, allowing people around the world to go “adventuring” on their screens.
- 2013: Google takes over the Waze map service.
- 2014: Alphabet Inc. buys Skyboy Imaging, a satellite service that takes pictures of the earth.
- 2016: The offline use of Google Maps is sustainably optimized. This makes navigation in other countries, for example, without incurring roaming charges possible. The requirement for offline use is sufficient storage space on the mobile end device.
Connection between Google Maps and SEO
Google acquires a majority of its data for Google Maps from publicly accessible sources. For example, data on companies or restaurants are put online, even though the companies affected were not active themselves. Using the Google My Business platform companies have the opportunity to maintain and update their data published on Google Maps. For their use companies need a valid Google account. With the help of Google My Business a search engine optimization (SEO) can be undertaken for local search queries. This allows the entry to be enriched with text that includes relevant search terms, for example. It is particularly in local search that entries via Google My Business play an important role as the first search results for search queries with a local reference are mostly made up of Google Maps entries.