Google Tag Manager is a useful tool used to facilitate data collection on your website or mobile app. It is a platform our SEO consultants use almost daily across our campaigns so we have put together this resource that explains what Google Tag Manager is, the benefits of this tool and why you need to be using it.
WHAT IS GOOGLE TAG MANAGER?
Google Tag Manager is a free tag management system that allows you to create and deploy marketing tags on your website or mobile app. From the web based user interface you can create, edit and upload tags to your project. Information is communicated from your website to tag manager once you have placed the container snippet in the code of your website. This container essentially “houses” all of your tags, so once this code has been added to your website or app you can manage all tags from the Google Tag Manager web interface instead of your website’s source code.
WHY SHOULD YOU USE GOOGLE TAG MANAGER?
Managing website tags can be complex, especially in the cases of larger websites which need to add or edit tags frequently. If this isn’t handled efficiently what you might find is that you get misrepresentations in your collected data and data is only valuable when it is accurate. A tag management system can also make this a less time consuming task, which we will cover more later.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF GOOGLE TAG MANAGER?
Tags are asynchronously executed
In the past your tags would have been snippets of code, created by your web developer and then added to your site code. This can add up to a significant amount of code. A pitfall of this practice was that any slower loading tags would block other tracking tags from executing, which as you can imagine is quite problematic for data collection. Google Tag Manager however, deploys tags asynchronously and this independent loading doesn’t block any other elements from rendering on your page, so slow loading tags won’t impede any other tags from executing and firing.
Collaboration and version capabilities
To make your work-space changes active you will need to publish a version of your Google Tag Manager container. The benefit here is that you can always return to previous versions and you can also review any changes made per version and who made these changes. This is especially beneficial if you have multiple vendors collaborating on one brand’s digital marketing efforts which is quite often the case.
Simplifying implementation process & real time debugging
In the past, without Google Tag Manager, tags would have been created by your web developer and added to your website’s source code. Websites typically use many tags and depending on the volume of tags you need to deploy, this can quickly add up to a lot of code and can impact a website’s performance by increasing page load times. Not only would that impact your data collection, but it can have a harmful SEO impact in addition to diminishing your conversion rates. None of these are ideal.
While you still need technical knowledge, this tag management system has simplified and fast tracked the process. You can have tags debugged and deployed as quickly as your skills will allow essentially. You are no longer having to book time with your developer at their next availability to manually code a tag snippet for you, to then add to the site, to then test and make any adjustments needed. With Google Tag Manager you can jump into the web interface and start creating your tags at your convenience, then with the preview tool you can immediately debug your tags and ensure they fire on your desired action.
HOW DOES GOOGLE TAG MANAGER WORK?
There are 5 key components to Google Tag Manager – The Container, Tags, Triggers, Variables and the Data Layer
What are containers?
To work with Google Tag Manager you will need to create a container, which is a segment of code you must add to your site and acts as a “home” for all of the tags you will deploy on your website. Once the container has been added to your website the addition, removal and edits of tags will be completed through the Tag Manager web interface.
What are Tags?
Tags are segments of code or tracking pixels that execute on pages (or your mobile app). They are designed to collect and pass on specific information or integrate products into your website.
Tags fire in response to specific events such as scroll depth, button interactions, form submissions, PDF downloads and more. These specific events or interactions are defined as triggers.
What are triggers?
Triggers monitor your web page for specific events you want to track with your tag. So again, this could be your form submission for example. Every tag must have at least one trigger in order to successfully fire. Trigger conditions determine when a tag will be fired or blocked from firing.
What are variables?
Variables can be described as placeholders for values that get populated when code is run on your website.
Variables can be used in both triggers and in tags.
- In Tags, variables are used to capture dynamic values. An example is hotel room value and booking ID.
- In Triggers, variables can be used to define specific filters about when a tag should fire. So this is used if you wanted the tag to only fire on one particular page, as an example.
In Google Tag Manager, there is an extensive set of predefined built-in variables. You are also able to create your own user-defined variables for more specific requirements.
WHAT IS A DATA LAYER?
The implementation of a data layer makes referencing the information easier and ready for when your tags fire. When setting up a data layer it is important to think about the types of information to be handled.
This can include
- Customer information – such as new or returning
- Transaction data – transaction ID, checkout date, order value
- Product data – category, name and price
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOGLE ANALYTICS AND GOOGLE TAG MANGER?
This is a really common question. Google Tag Manager is a completely different product from Google Analytics. You cannot review the data you collect from your website within Google Tag Manager, you must do this via Google Analytics.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Our team of SEO professionals have set up, audited and updated Google Tag Manager accounts and contained tags for brands around the world.
We work with you to understand your campaign goals, then identify the metrics and actions you need to be measuring to get usable and valuable data for your campaigns.
Get in touch with us here to discuss your needs!