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Google Tag Manager is a tag management system that helps users easily update tags and snippets on their website without having to modify the source code each time. It allows you to house your code from AdWords, Analytics, and more all in one place so there’s no need to edit code directly on the site. This not only makes your life easier, but it helps reduce the errors associated with having a developer configure tags for you.

What is a Tag?

You might be wondering what exactly is a tag? A tag is snippet of Javascript that sends information to Google or another analytics provider when a certain condition is met (i.e. when the tag is “fired”). Tag Manager allows you to create a custom tag or you can create one from the templates they have. For more information on which tags are supported, click here

What Makes Tag Manager Easier Than Adding Tags Manually?

Most web developers and marketers are fairly familiar with how to implement Google Analytics or Google Adwords tags on their sites. The setup is fairly simple, normally just involving adding a particular snippet of Javascript to the source code or installing a plugin for your content management system (CMS) that adds the snippet for you. When you’re only working with one tag, this isn’t a hassle, but what happens when you need to implement multiple tags or when you need to modify existing tags? This is where Tag Manager really shines.

Tag Manager only requires one small piece of code to be added to your site. This piece of Javascript will then automatically add the appropriate tags for you. Rather than modifying the source code, you can now add tags directly to the Tag Manager dashboard and they will get pushed out to your site automatically. Even users with little to no coding experience can easily add tags to sites, since Tag Manager takes care of all the dirty work for you!

In addition to ease of implementation, Tag Manager also gives you the ability to test your tags before adding them to your site, so you always know that your new or updated tag is working. Beyond this, each time you make an update in Tag Manager, a new version is created. Version control allows you to revert to a previous state if anything ever breaks or starts to work in strange ways.

Overall, Google Tag Manager allows you to future-proof your tag implementation and makes scaling your tag usage easy!

How To Setup Your Google Tag Manager Account

Setting up Google Tag Manager is very simple. Within your Tag Manager login, you can set up multiple accounts. In each account, you can have multiple containers where you will set up tags for your site. Here’s how to get started:

Create a Google Tag Manager Account

Go to https://www.google.com/analytics/tag-manager/ and sign in with your Gmail account. After creating a Tag Manager account, you’ll need to create your first container.

Once you’ve created a container, you’ll be given a small snippet of Javascript that you’ll need to add to your site. This is the code that will actually allow Tag Manager to add the appropriate tags.

If you are implementing your snippet into the source code yourself, you will want to place the <script> code into the <head> of your site and the <noscript> code into the <body> of your site. Luckily, Tag Manager is compatible with most content management systems, so there are many plugins available to help you implement the Tag Manager snippet without ever touching your source code. To make sure that your snippet is installed properly, you can download Google Tag Assistant. This is a free Chrome extension tool that will show if you have any errors with your Google tags.

Installing Your First Tag

One of the first tags you will want to install is Google Analytics. First things first, if you already have a Google Analytics tracking code on your site, you’ll want to remove that so you don’t get duplicate tracking results.

Click on “Add a New Tag”. At the top left, name your tag “Google Analytics”. Click in the “Tag Configuration” box and you will be able to choose the tag type that you want.

Click on “Universal Analytics” and keep “Page View” as the “Track Type”. You will want to check the box for “Enable overriding settings in this tag”. Once you do that, click on the plus button next to the Tracking ID space and you should get a page like this:

Click on the “+” button to the top right. Then under “Utilities”, click “Constant”. Name the variable “Google Analytics UA Code” and click on the “Variable Configuration” box. Enter your Google Analytics UA code as the “Value” and click “Save”.

Now, we need to tell the tag when to fire. Click on the “Triggering” box where you will be asked to choose a trigger. Click “All Pages” then save your tag.

Now that your tag is made, you need to publish it. If you want to test your tag first, you can click on “Preview” and go to your site to see if the tag fires. If everything is correct, click “Submit” at the top, name your version, and give a description so you know what changes were made. Then click “Publish”.

That’s it! Your Google Analytics tag will be pushed out to your site without any further work on your part.

Learn More About Google Tag Manager

As you can see, Google Tag Manager greatly simplifies the process of adding tags to your site. No longer will you have to modify the source code of your site just to implement tracking codes. In this article, we’ve only touched on a few of the things that Tag Manager can do. To learn more about the advanced features of Tag Manager, Google offers many training videos that go through everything in detail. Check out their Google Tag Manager Fundamentals course here to get started!

Micaela Contente
Digital Marketing Analyst at | More Posts

Micaela is the Digital Marketing Analyst at Sharp Notions, a small web development and digital marketing firm in Fairport, NY.