The Beginners Guide to Google Tag Manager

My Post - 2020-01-28T134933.695.pngGoogle Tag Manager is a vital tool for any webmaster or site owner. The system plays a critical role in managing any website’s tags. It makes tag management fast, efficient and easier to understand for those of us who aren’t pro coders. This definitive guide will give you all the information you need to become a Tag Manager expert.

Tags are snippets of code added to any website’s pages. They have a range of different functions. One prime example is the JavaScript code tag which is vital to making Google Analytics work. That tag collects the data that Analytics needs to deliver its various reports and insights. Other tags can extract and send different information to platforms like Google Ads, and many others.

Effective management of your site’s tags, then, is crucial to performing analytics on the website. That, in turn, makes it critical to optimizing the site performance. That’s why you’ll want to read on and learn how Tag Manager makes it so much simpler to produce and implement all the tags your site needs.

What is Google Tag Manager?

Google describes its Tag Manager product as a ‘Tag Management System’ (TMS). That’s an excellent way to think about it. It does for a website’s tags what a Content Management System (CMS) does for its content. The service provides an interface through which to create and track all the tags your site needs.

You no longer have to code each tag manually. Instead, you can create all your tags through the interface. Tag Manager will then implement them for your site. That is if you’ve embedded a straightforward piece of Tag Manager code into each page of the website.

There are three main benefits to handling tags in this way:

  • Easing Pressure on Developers – Neither you nor your company’s web developers need to worry about manually coding tags. That frees up more time to spend on other tasks like managing your site’s content
  • Greater Accuracy – Tags coded by a person are more susceptible to errors. A simple typo or copy and paste issue can render a tag useless. Tag Manager won’t make such errors.
  • Marketing Control & Oversight – The Tag Manager interface makes it much easier to control and track all your tags. That means you can create and use more tags that directly relate to your marketing priorities. It’s easier to produce and implement tags to collect information for your marketing activities.

Tag Manager can give you that control and mastery over tags for a range of analytics platforms. Getting started with Tag Manager is nice and easy, not to mention free. The first thing you have to do is to set up your Tag Manager account.

How to Set Up a Google Tag Manager Account

To get started with Tag Manager, you have to set up an account with the service. Unlike many of Google’s products, you won’t be immediately logged in to Tag Manager via an existing Google Account. Instead, head to the Tag Manager site and click one of the ‘Create Account’ buttons, as shown below:

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You then have to input a few different pieces of information. First, you need to choose a name for your Tag Manager account. Google recommends each business creates only one account. Your company name, then, can also serve as your account name.

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You also need to choose a ‘Container Name’. The container is the piece of code you must add to your webpages for Tag Manager to work. The container name should be the name of the site or sites where you’ll be embedding the container. Then, all you need to do is choose the relevant platform from the menu and click ‘Create’.

Once you’ve worked through that simple page, you’ll see two popups. The first is the Google terms of service, which you need to accept. The next displays all the details of the container snippet you need to add to your site’s pages.

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There are two parts to the container snippet. The first piece of code uses JavaScript extract information. You should place that snippet as high up in the <Head> section of your pages as you can. The second snippet is an HTML iframe. You need to put that code immediately after each page’s opening <Body> tag.

The HTML iframe element of the container only comes into play in specific circumstances. Those are when a site visitor has disabled JavaScript. Having that snippet embedded ensures tags still fire, even without JavaScript.

Once you’ve set up your account and your first container, you’re ready to roll with Tag Manager. You can now start to learn a little more about the interface and the elements that it contains.

Tags, Triggers and Variables

Every analytics platform has its vocabulary. They all use unique words and phrases that you may not have come across if you haven’t used the tool before. Google Tag Manager is no exception.

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The TMS uses three labels in particular that you must understand. Knowing what they’re all about will make it easier to get started using the tool. Those three labels are tags, triggers, and variables. Each makes up a vital element of Tag Manager and has a section within the interface. You can see the links to access those sections highlighted in the image above.

What, though, is a tag, a trigger, and a variable? – Read more