What is Google Tag Manager and How Does It Work?

What is Google Tag Manager and How Does It Work?

Last Edited March 23, 2018 by Garenne Bigby in Search Engine Optimization

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is an online tool that can help you with the tracking codes and collecting analytics on your website. It can also be used in conjunction with Google Analytics to make collecting this information so much easier. GTM has so many great features that are easy to use, and the best part is, it is completely FREE! The program can keep track of all your information through one tool, which stores all your data in a centralized location. This means you will not need help from other developers that can cost a lot of money to work with. You can do the work all on your own, and you will be able to see everything that happens on your web page in one place, which is convenient for you and your team.

There are different ways Google Tag Manager can help you update the tags and codes you already have on your site.  This article will help you to understand Google Tag Manager, the benefits of it, and how to use it to make your job easier.

What is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager is a great and useful tool that can help collect and keep analytical data organized, so making decisions about your website is easy and you have everything needed right at your fingertips. By keeping track of all the codes you are using on your website, it will save time from working with expensive developers. Usually, when there's a need to change a code, every other code on a website needs to be changed as well. When it comes to this tool, you will not have to go through this lengthy and frustrating process. GTM is made up of different components, which will be further discussed. It is made up of tags, triggers and variables.

A tag is part of the code you use to send data to Google Analytics or other third-party tools where you keep track of data. A trigger is the action that signals the data is needed to be collected, and the variables are the circumstances under which the data is collected. Google Tag Manager makes it possible that you won’t have to put each code separately into your files, so it makes the setup process so much easier.

It is able to assist you with analytics for purposes such as marketing, tracking customer conversion rates, and other site analytics that are important to understanding for every business. This is beneficial for marketing purposes, analytical purposes and development purposes, so it is a tool you should strongly consider when figuring out next steps for analyzing data.

google tag manager article

Why Use It?

There are so many important benefits of using the Google Tag Manager tool. First off, it is free to use. All you need to do is have an account for Google. It is a very effective tool because a company will not need to worry about their budget when using it. Not only is it beneficial that it is free, but it will eliminate the need to work with outside developers. It can also work in conjunction with Google Analytics, which makes it easy for you to have everything you need right on Google. This allows website managers to know where to find their information and stay organized. You can also track almost anything you want on your site and see how people are using it. You are able to track videos, form submissions, and so much more! Just about anything you need to track can be tracked.

Another great feature of GTM is that you don’t even have to worry about security. These days, there is a lot to fret about when it comes to making sure the information you have regarding your business is secure, but with this tool, you are protected. It uses strategies to keep your username and password protected so that you don’t have to think about it twice. No one will be able to get into your account and find your data.

As previously mentioned, this tool also allows you to work directly with Google Analytics, which makes it unique from other online tools. User ID Tracking is one feature that allows data to be collected from real users instead of just their devices. This means that the data collected will be more accurate and allow you to cut ties with expensive developers.

When Google Tag Manager is ready to go on your website or mobile app, you will not have to write any additional code. Your marketing and analytics codes will be all taken care of. GTM is easy to use, free and helps you to get the job done without paying someone else to do it. When you feel like you have to change one code, you will not have to rewrite the rest of your code when using Google Tag Manager. This will save a lot of time and frustration. The best part about using it (besides the fact that it’s free) is that anyone can use it, and you don’t need to have extensive coding skills to know what is going on.

When using it, you have complete control over what tags will be used, when a tag should or should not fire, where the information should go, and what happens when it does get fired. Having control over these features on your website will give you the important information you need to understand your analytics. When analytics are better understood, a website will be more successful.

How Does It Work?

Google Tag Manager can be put on your website pages and has its own container tag. This eliminates the need for having to place many different codes within a website. The same code is put onto each page, so it doesn’t have to be rewritten for the individual pages of a site. There is also a way you can work with this tool to keep track of what is happening on your mobile apps. All you will need to do it use it with Firebase SDK, Android, or iOS. Instead of manually coding tags on your site, you can use GTM to have them automatically updated on your site without doing all the hard work. You can even tag for more than one website at a time, so you aren’t limited to how many tags you are managing at once. This makes it extremely easy, especially when managing more than one website. Be aware that even if you are working on multiple websites or companies, you will need to have an account for each business.

Simply enough, once you put snippets of code related to your website or app, you can be connected to Google Tag Manager. When this happens, a web-based interface will work to put the codes on your page, so it is automatically done for you. The person running the tag manager is able to pick the triggers on the interface. When something happens, the trigger will fire. Some examples of events would be if the page loads, a user taps on the screen or selects an option or they click submit on whatever form you have on your site. Once the event happens, GTM fires, collects the data, and then it is sent back to Google Analytics.  It will also help to manage the tags you have on your website, so that you don’t have to partake in all the extra work.

What Are Tags?

There are a few different components of Google Tag Manager that will be needed to work properly. It is important to understand what each of these components is and how they work together.

When it comes to tags on your website, it is a line of code that is able to send important information to some third-party tool, like Google Analytics. Tags need to be added to each page of your website unless you use a tag manager. The tags are the part that tracks what is happening on each of your web pages. The tags can figure out how users are interacting with the features on your website. Tags are helpful when used with a tool like Google Tag Manager because it can automatically track information you want and need. The code is actually added to GTM, which helps to track the information you want. By doing so, the tags will automatically show up on each of your web pages automatically.

The tag manager also has a great feature that can let you know when your code is not working. This makes it easy for you to figure out you have to go back into the tag manager and fix the code. If it wasn’t apparent there was a problem; it would not be able to get fixed.

What Are Triggers?

Triggers are another important aspect of using Google Tag Manager. Triggers are events that happen on your page. When an event happens on the page, the tags will fire. This means the information will be collected from the tag and stored where you choose. This is why it is a good idea to have your GTM working alongside Google Analytics. There are many different triggers a webmaster is able to choose to collect information from. Triggers can be when a user clicks on buttons on the website, views a specific page, scrolls down to get more information, or downloads something. It can also include when forms are submitted, or purchases are made. These are just a few examples, but there are many different triggers that can be chosen with Google Tag Manager.

What Are Variables?

When Google Tag Manager uses different aspects to figure out if the condition of a trigger has been met, those are variables. These are another important component of using the tool. Variables also have the capacity to send very specific information. You can specify variables, or you can just use the option to include all types of clicks when a visitor clicks on a link. This will allow for all different variable options to stay open. Use variables if you are interested in tracking certain actions such as clicks on one URL. It is important that you figure out what values will be needed for the different variables you would like to track.

Some variables can include the speed at which a user scrolls up or down on a page, the quantity of what they have purchased, or how long they have spent on a specific page of your site. These variables can help you to track the most important and relevant information that is needed for marketing or usability purposes. Variables are used with both triggers and tags to help you get the most specific information. It can help to rule out unimportant data, so that you get exactly what you need when you need it.

Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics

Having both of these tools can make your life a lot simpler. Data can be sent from Google Tag Manager to Google Analytics, so you can analyze it, see trends, and have all the information needed in one place. It can be easily set up by using a Click Trigger and a Tag from Google Analytics to see what links are being downloaded by users or just about anything else you want to collect data for. The triggers can also be used to select certain times the data will be sent to Google Analytics so that it can be done automatically. These two tools can be very helpful, but even more so when they are used together.

Setting it Up for Web

There are some easy steps you can follow to set up Google Tag Manager for your website. All you will need to do is create a free and easy-to-set-up account. Setting up your account is easy and fast. It won’t take any time at all. Just to go tagmanager.google.com to set it up. Next, you will need to create your container and then place the code on your website. Once you have created your username and password, you are all set to move forward. Once you figure out what your container will be, you can give it a name. Give it a name that will be relevant to your website and the information you are looking for. Once you have accepted the terms and conditions, you will need to open the HTML part of your site and paste in the whole code. If the code is not pasted in the right place, it will not work properly.

Setting it Up for Mobile Apps

Setting up is just as easy for mobile apps as it is for a website. This part of Google Tag Manager works in conjunction with Firebase, which is a mobile platform for Google apps. It will provide you with what you need to set up GTM for your mobile apps. Make sure to create an account, which is also the first step in setting the tool up for a website. Again, you will need to create a container and give it a name. Just make sure you click on the “mobile app” option for this one. It is important that you select the container type for whatever mobile app you have. This can be used with Android, iOS and SDK versions like Firebase and Legacy SDKs.

Why Are Analytics Important?

You might be wondering why using any kind of analytical tools is important to your business. No matter what type of business you run, analytics will give a lot of important information that can help to improve your site and the success of the business. Collecting and understanding data about how a website is working is key to redefining and improving your business. It can also help a business owner to figure out what features of a website are working and what features are not working for visitors. Improving conversion rates, performance, and usability of a website can help a business convert more users to customers, gain a higher profit, and ensure customer satisfaction. This can help the business to grow and continue to be successful for the foreseeable future.

Now that you know all about Google Tag Manager and how it works, you can figure out if it is the right tool for you. While it is free, it can also be used with Google Analytics, so everything you need can be in one place. Google is an important part of the future of a business. There is so much that can be done using the different tools offered by Google. Using the tag manager to keep track of all your data and analytics on your website is easy, even if you don’t have a lot of experience with coding. Just about anyone can benefit from using it.  

 

Garenne Bigby
Author: Garenne BigbyWebsite: http://garennebigby.com
Founder @dynomapper
Garenne Bigby is freelance Chicago developer and founder of DYNO Mapper with over 10 years experience in both agency and freelance roles in design, development, user experience, SEO, and information architecture.

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