15 September, 2020

Best practices for your Google Maps Platform setup

Whether you’re an avid Google Maps Platform (GMP) user, or just getting started - there’s a number of ways you can ensure that you’re set up for success on the platform.

We know there’s a vast amount of Google Maps documentation out there and it can be overwhelming. So, to ensure you’re making the most out of your GMP investment, we’ve pulled together the top five best practices for setting up and using GMP effectively.

1. Choose your APIs wisely 

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) form the basis of the Google Maps Platform and luckily for users, there are a number of different APIs to choose from.

Understanding what APIs you’re using, why you’re using them and if they’re the best fit for your business is crucial to ensuring you get the most out of your monthly GMP spend.

When choosing which APIs to implement, it’s important to ask questions such as:

  • ‘Do I need a map that zooms and pans? Or should it be static?’ 
  • ‘Do I need live traffic information or will historical traffic information suffice?

Questions like these ensure you’re not only using the API that best suits your business requirements, but also can result in quite a significant cost change.

Check out the article we wrote that looks at a number of questions to consider when it comes to choosing your Google Maps APIs. Alternatively, head to the Google Maps Platform official documentation for assistance in picking the APIs you need. 

2. Restrict your API keys

API keys are the gatekeepers to your instance of the Google Maps Platform. You wouldn’t leave your keys in the front door of your house, would you? So you shouldn’t leave the API keys in your project unsecured either.

Restricting your API keys adds an extra layer of protection by ensuring only authorised requests are made using your API keys. The consequences of using an unrestricted API key are anyone that gets a hold of the API key, whether internal for testing purposes or from external hackers, can use it in their project. Ultimately, this costs your business money without any visibility of where the cost is coming from. Similarly, by restricting where the API key can be used, even if the API key is compromised, means that the API key request will fail.

There are two types of restrictions you can set in GMP - and we recommend both:

  • Application restriction: This limits the use of your APIs to only certain websites, web servers or mobile apps.
  • API restriction: This limits the use of API keys to one or more identified APIs or SDKs. Read more on how to restrict your APIs here.

3. Set budget caps and alerts

Most organisations have an allocated budget for their monthly spend when they set up a project on the GMP. The three ways to ensure your project falls within the allocated monthly spend are to place budget capsquota caps or budget alerts on your spend. 

Budget caps
Setting up budget caps ensures that once you’ve reached your allocated spend for the month, the API key requests fail. While this ensures you don’t exceed your budget, if your application is business-critical, this may not be the most appropriate method.

Quota caps
These are restrictions placed on the number of API requests made within a project. These quotas can be restricted by users per second, by second or by day. Again, depending on how critical your application is, you may not wish to place a hard limit on the number of requests made to your project as once your limits are reached, the application will be forced to stop.

Budget alerts
These email prompts are notifications that can be set up by the person in the ‘Billing Admin’ role in your GMP account. This is usually a partner or a user within your organisation. These alerts can be set up to notify your team about your GMP spend  at as many intervals as you wish, whether that’s every 10% of your budget cap or once you reach 95% of your monthly budget. Once you hit 100% of your monthly spend, you can continue to make API requests and get charged, however, this helps you stay on top of your monthly spend without imposing limits on your application.

Find out more about setting budget caps, quote caps and alerts here.

4. Monitor your usage

There are a number of ways businesses can monitor their usage on the GMP and depending on the business structure, one may be more suited than another. The top three ways to monitor your usage are:

  • By project - You can gain a quick overview of your overall spend broken down by the APIs used in one project. 
  • By channel - Set your APIs up under different channels within your project to cater to different teams. An example of this is setting up one project for store locators and breaking each store down per channel.
  • Personalised billing dashboard - Liveli can build a tailored dashboard to help businesses keep track of multiple projects, in one place.

Find out more about the different ways to track your Google Maps Platform usage here.

5. Work with a partner

As a partner, we’re here to help you make the most out of your GMP, whatever the application may be for.

The Liveli team can provide both technical and billing support, review and optimise how you’re using the platform and have the technical capabilities in place to help you scope and build your application.

Want to find out more? Check out our blog on working with Liveli.

How can Liveli help your business grow? 

If you’re looking for advice and support on how to get started using Google Maps Platform or you have a well established application that could do with some optimisation, we can help.

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