Since the release of Google Tag Manager (GTM) in 2012, there’s still a lot of confusion regarding what it is, what it’s used for SEO and how it differs from Google Analytics (GA). We’ve put together a few useful pointers to help resolve this confusion and explain how GTM differs from GA and how these two tools work together.
What is Google Tag Manager (GTM)?
Although Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics are two completely separate tools, the common misconception is that they are the same. To put it simply GTM is a user-friendly solution to managing tracking tags, before GTM existed tracking codes had to be inserted on webpages for any element you wanted to track. Further, to make any changes to the tracking this is something developers or someone with good knowledge of code needed to do.
With GTM this process is made easier as it simplifies the procedure of adding these tracking codes to your website. Instead of updating or making changes to the code directly, through Google Tag Manager you can create and deploy tags to add the appropriate tracking to your website.
Google Tag Manager consists of these three main parts:
- Triggers: Defines when and where tags are executed.
- Variables: Used to receive or store information to be used by tags and triggers.
So how do Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics work together?
Here’s why you need Google Tag Manager
As well as great usability features, Google offers this tool for free meaning it won’t cost your business anything to start using it.
Looking back at how tracking is generally implemented, when you decide to run an online marketing campaign if you want to track its performance the tracking code is sent to a developer to implement through hardcoding. This is where things can slow down, as the developer may be too busy. Also depending on what you want to track, you may need to write a detailed brief explaining exactly which elements you want to track and what data you would like to send to GA or any other platform.
With Google tag manager you can implement and manage this through the GTM interface, meaning tags can be added rapidly and a lot of them do not require code changes to the website.
GTM comes fully loaded with a number built in tags for Universal Analytics, AdWords, remarketing and many more third party supported tags (such as Marin, comScore, AdRoll, and more!). Currently with more than 80 templates and with this number expected to grow in the future, this means even if you have no or limited coding knowledge you can customise and implement tags without having to dip into complicated code or having to ask a developer.
Where there are no tag templates available you can use custom HTML tags making GTM truly limitless.
Undoubtedly security is a big concern when maintaining a website so the idea of allowing a tool with so much control over all the codes that can be added to your website can be scary. However, there is nothing to worry about as you control who has access to your GTM and analytics accounts, and the level of access they have. As with anything else standard security practises need to be followed, Google Tag manager also has other security features for added security. For instance, automatically scanning all tracking scripts added with custom HTML tags and pausing if they are from a known malware domain, IP address or URL.
You can also take advantage of the the two-factor authentication feature which requires you to enter your normal password and then sends a numeric code via text message, voice call, or mobile app that you need to implement.
This features allows you to control who has access and the level of access they have. This is especially useful when there are multiple agencies that want to add tracking tags and also have multiple employees that need access. With GTM you can control the level of access they have and that only selected individuals have the highest level of permissions and control.
You can choose from the following permission levels.
- No Access
Another great thing about GTM is, that through its built in debug feature you can ensure that your tags work before publishing them to the live website. Through its preview mode you can test and debug each update on your actual website before publishing the change. Not only does this allow you to see changes in real-time without them actually being published, it also minimises the risk of getting it wrong. There are many helpful tools that you can use such as Tag Assistant, Data Layer Checker and Tag Manager Injector to help with debugging.
If you need any help setting up Google Tag Manager for your business, or how to fully utilise this tool get in touch with us today!