Over the duration of its existence, which rounds up to roughly 15 years, Google Maps has transformed from a simple navigation tool to an app with a whole different level of promotion and opportunities for both individual users and big and small fish in business. The marketing influence of a simple map on the web has evolved to the point where every type of business, from e-commerce to pharmaceuticals, wants to have their name featured and ranked as high as possible in the Google Maps ratings.
We’re going to show you how to use the Apify platform and a ready-made tool called Google Maps Scraper to extract data from Google Maps. Apify’s scraper, or crawler, will enable you to scrape any information, including reviews, photos, and popular times from Google Places.
Google Maps usage statistics
We don’t have to tell you how popular and ubiquitous using Google Maps is. Let’s just take a quick look at some statistics to get a clear picture of what we’re about to scrape.
For regular users
- In 2020, Google Maps was the most downloaded map and navigation app in the United States, despite being a standard pre-installed app on Android smartphones.
- Since 2015, Google has claimed that Google Maps has “more than a billion users” (even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic).
- ComScore’s survey on Android found that Google Maps was the 7th most popular app among U.S. Android users in November 2020, despite the limitations of the pandemic.
- 2019 RBC Capital Markets report estimates that Google has seized 81% of the navigation market.
- There’s data on 1 164 749 companies that use Google Maps, with the app most often being used by companies with 10-50 employees and $1-10 million in revenue.
- 86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps before visiting and 90% of them aren’t sure what business they’ll use before they start with their search.
- It’s no wonder, because 76% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations, which gives data on Google Maps immense powers over decision-making.
- The restaurant industry is a case in point here of how accurate local listings have become crucial for business development and visibility on the market, with 94% of American customers being influenced by online reviews of a restaurant they’re about to visit.
How to use data extracted from Google Maps
Since it is an unprecedented case of merging the results of local search and listings of local businesses, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that without a presence on Google Maps, a local business can count itself as pretty much non-existent. The most obvious way to use Google Maps results on a bigger scale would be to use it for automating the extraction of contact data such as phone numbers, emails, addresses, and website names of companies in the general vicinity. How can this gathered contact data be used? Here’s just a couple of examples:
- creating a potential customer base. Collecting B2B leads data can be confidently called a monkey job that doesn’t inspire much creativity or work motivation. That’s what automated solutions are for.
- searching and analyzing the businesses who offer similar services or products to yours and comparing your and your competitors' offers.
- scraping reviews for positive/negative sentiment, quality of service, and specific phrases. In this way, you can tackle the fake reviews.
- finding where to buy the exact product and choosing the best option out of the pool of results.
- analyzing geospatial data with Google Maps data scraper for scientific or engineering work. For instance, when working with satellite data and geolocation for climate research and calculation of global distances on Earth to cyclone location. Or to analyze the territorial changes before and after an attack, as has been thoroughly done in this Bellingcat study
- Last but not least - benefit from big data, even if you’re a small player. Above all, this has greater opportunities for expanding your business or organization as well as developing a working market strategy.
Here, your imagination is the limit of how you can use that data. However, in order to create a whole catalog of things you may need a great amount of data from Google Maps. And that is not as easy with the official Google Maps API (more on that further). To achieve that completeness of data you can either combine the official Google Maps scraper results with some other organization's catalogs, or use a completely different Google Maps data extraction tool that can provide a full range of results, such as our Google Maps Scraper.
What about the official Google Maps API?
Some massively popular websites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon do provide APIs for their users to access part of their data, etc. Google Maps is among these sites, it provides Place API for its users. However, to use the Google Places API, you need to set up an account first and create your API key, and their method charges you with a pay-as-you-go pricing model. This wasn’t always the case, but ever since Google Maps API put considerable limitations on scraping their data back in 2010, it has prompted businesses and developers around the world to find other, easier ways to scrape the website.
That being said, the official Google Maps Places API can be an adequate option for many cases, but crawlers such as Google Maps Scraper can provide the results from all of the following input parameters as a part of free trial:
- Unlimited results (Google Places API enforces rate limits and IP quotas).
- Popular place times histogram (not available in the official API).
- All place reviews (Google Places API enforces rate limits and IP quotas).
- All place photos (Google Places API enforces rate limits and IP quotas).
You can really see the horizon of data extraction opportunities widen with the limitations thrown out of the window. Now let’s walk you through every step of the process of scraping Google Maps with our Google Maps Scraper.
Step-by-step guide to scraping Google Maps
- By clicking on the Google Maps Scraper card, you’ll be redirected to the scraper’s own page, where you can see the actor’s description and main features in its readme, customizable parameters, and even source code. When you’re ready, click the blue Try me button. You'll be redirected to your Dashboard.
Log in or sign up for free using your email, gmail or Github.
Once you do that, you’ll be redirected to your Apify Console. You can consider it the workspace for your Google Maps scraper and other actors.
You can see a new Task has been automatically created for your Google Maps actor. But the task hasn't started running yet until you specify the parameters of how you want to scrape Google Maps.
Let’s open Google Maps in a new tab and see what kind of data you can scrape and download. Maybe you’re hungry and you want some takeout, so search for that. Once Google Maps has come back with a map filled with tasty takeout places, just copy the URL.
8. Return to the Apify tab and paste the URL into the first line of the input field in the Apify platform (in the field next to Start URLs). You can specify your takeout scraping search by narrowing it down to be more specific as well as control the number of results you want to receive.
9. Click on the green Save & Run button and wait for the scraping run to finish.
10. Your task will change status to show that it is Running. Now you can just sit back and wait for the data to start rolling in. It might take a while if there are a lot of takeout places near you!
11. As soon as you see that the status has changed to Succeeded, click on the Dataset tab to check your scraped search results.
12. The Dataset tab contains your data in lots of versatile formats, including HTML table, JSON, CSV, Excel, XML, and RSS feed. You can open them by clicking on View in another tab, Preview, or Download. You can then share the data, or upload it anywhere you like. Use it in spreadsheets, other programs or apps, or your own projects.
13. Take a look at the preview of your extracted data in various formats before you decide to download it - just click Preview in the Dataset tab.
14. Ready to scrape more Google Maps data? Get reviews, popular times, photos and see what else you can come up with. Unlike the official Google Maps API, we don’t limit the number of results, reviews, or photos you can scrape.
One slight caveat is that it's preferable to scrape such a huge website as Google Maps by using proxies, that way it's faster and more efficient. Because of this, if you get serious about scraping Maps, it will eventually start costing you at least a little cash, but in the meantime, you get one month of Apify Proxy free as soon as you sign up at Apify!
Don't forget to send us a tweet if you do something interesting with all that data!