Website tag managers such as Google Tag Manager (GTM) provide an easy and efficient way to manage multiple snippets of code on your website. In this article, we’ll dive into the basic concepts of GTM and its popular use cases.
* As a note, websites that only use a singular tracking code (e.g. basic Google Analytics installation) may not benefit much from a tag manager. The same is true for websites built upon a CMS that provides basic settings fields in which these platforms’ measurement IDs, etc. can be pasted.
How Google Tag Manager Works
Tag managers serve as a singular container for multiple snippets of code, simplifying code installation and organization. A website admin only needs to install the tag manager’s global code into their site once during the initial setup. Then, practically all code management for various platforms moving forward can occur within the tag manager’s simplified dashboard.
The core elements of GTM are tags and triggers:
- Tags are the pieces of code that are desired to be added to the site. These are commonly related to Google Analytics or another platform’s tracking such as the Meta Pixel or the LinkedIn Insight pixel.
- Triggers are the defined set of conditions under which the tag should be active or “fire.” For example, many high-level tags are suggested to be triggered on the view of any webpage whereas a more specific one associated with a contact form conversion tag could be set to fire only when that specific form is submitted.
“Variables” can also be used to capture dynamic values (such as transaction amounts) or to simplify adding a frequently used value such as a Google Analytics setting.
Google Tag Manager Setup
You can create a free GTM container at tagmanager.google.com where you’ll be provided instructions for installing the new container on your website. Next, you can begin migrating any existing tags from your website and adding any new tags needed. You’ll create a new tag for each piece of code, specifying when it should fire.
Foundational tags we employ on most containers include:
- Google Analytics (GA) configuration
- Custom GA events to measure conversions such as form submissions and phone call clicks
- Google Ads tags (e.g. Conversion Linker and Remarketing tag)
- Meta Pixel
- Any necessary HTML for other platforms
Once you’ve added the tags and triggers, you may want to verify they’re functioning properly via the Google Tag Assistant accessible via the “Preview” button in the top right of the dashboard.
Finally, publish your changes via the blue “Submit” button in the top right of the dashboard. Always remember to submit your changes. Otherwise, any of the updates made since the last publish will not be live on your website.
As long as your tags function as desired, you can simply leave GTM to operate in the background until you need to add to or revise your configuration. As you make changes over time, you’ll notice GTM keeps track of your publishing via “versions.” This log allows you to review historical changes and if desired, revert to a previous version.
As with most of Google’s products, you can also add additional users such as staff or vendors to collaborate on your site’s container. This can be done from the “Admin” tab in the top left of the dashboard. You’ll be able to review their updates via version history as well.
Tag managers such as Google’s free GTM can simplify your website code management, making it quicker and easier to add desired pieces of code. For websites deploying multiple snippets, this can significantly reduce requirements on development time and improve overall code organization.