Prototyping maps with “Google My Maps”
“Google My Maps” is an excellent tool for geocoding and mapping disparate data points. While I prefer CartoDB for extreme customizability and styling – I prefer the flexibility of geocoding in Google My Maps.
I’d recommend using My Maps if:
a) you’re having trouble with geocoding your data (happens semi-frequently with non-North American data)
or b) you just want to put something together quickly.
Using custom map pins
As a quick tip: if you go to custom pins it’s possible to upload a .PNG of your map pins for each of your series.
As an example here is a heatmap I made using custom pins of shark attached across the United States.