Google has recently rolled out a free tool called “Google Tag Manager” for Webmasters and IT professionals as well as digital marketers and SEOs alike. Its purpose is to allow for easy management of website tags in one location, known as a container tag. Learn more about the basics of container tags here. Container tags are designed to make our job easier by combining all website tags into one location, known as a container. This one container file is then the end-all for updating, adding, and deleting tags. In other words, it eliminates the need to go through Analytics, AdWords, etc., to update website tags. Instead, any changes can be implemented through this one container tag, just by updating changes directly to a Google Tag Manager account and then clicking “publish” (an important step). For SEOs and digital marketing agencies, this means a few important things.
- Allows users who do not have direct access to the backend of the site to add tags and event tracking, simply through access to the Google Tag Manager account. This means that, for example, if the SEO on the client account wants to add event tracking to the site, they do not have to directly access the html to add this to the analytics tracking code. They can simply create an event tag in Google Tag Manager and it will almost immediately begin tracking.
- Can be a big time-saver for agencies with multiple clients, each with multiple accounts used for tracking.
- Is a way for webmasters and marketers to work together to track important business goals on the site from one user-friendly platform.
How Does It Work?
- Rules: Rules dictate on which pages tags will be fired. There is a pre-defined rule in Tag Manager with a regular expression of “/.*” for “All Pages.” This means that any tag with this rule will be applied to all pages on the site. Using regular expressions, you can tell Tag Manager which page(s) to apply each tag to.
- Macros: Macros pass values to tags during runtime. For example, there are three pre-defined macros: “url,” “referrer,” and “event.” These tell Tag Manager the dynamic value of the tag. So, the “url” macro tells Tag Manager that the value of the tag is the current page URL. Macros can be built and then referenced by multiple tags and rules.
Multiple Accounts and Containers: This is great for SEOs and digital agencies because it allows for easy management of multiple accounts for different clients. Google recommends that each account should correspond with a company (client) and each container should correspond with a website. Each container can also have multiple users, and each user can be allowed different permissions, from just viewing permission to managing permission.
Tag Templates: Tag Manager has built in templates for:
- AdWords Conversion Tracking
- GDN Remarketing
- Google Analytics
- Doubleclick Floodlight Counter
- Doubleclick Floodlight Sales
These templates minimize the possibility for error and simplify the process of integration from these external platforms.
Previewing/Debugging: This feature allows you to test a tag before publishing it to the site. This is another way that Tag Manager reduces the chance of user error. By selecting the “Preview & Debug” option seen below, you can be sure that the tags execute properly and do not break the site before publishing.
Review: The Bad
Timely Set Up: Initial set up is timely. It involves finding all of the current tags on the site, adding them to Tag Manager, and then deleting the originals. Especially for an agency that manages multiple sites each with multiple tags and platforms, this can become a time-consuming process. In my opinion, it would be optimal if there were a way for Tag Manager to automatically pull all existing tags on the site and add it to the container, but this is currently not the case. Limited Discussion: There are surprisingly few blog posts/discussions out there about this tool. I’m curious as to why. Are people finding it simple to use or are they simply not using it? Either way, it makes it difficult to gauge how much success other agencies are having with this tool and what common problems might be occurring.
Review: The Good
Quicker Site Loading: Combining all tags into one container will allow a faster site load time. One of the downsides of so much tagging is the possibility of slowing down a site. This virtually eliminates the problem by allowing all tags to be fired through one asynchronous tracking code snippet. Long Run Time Save: With the ability to add, delete, and manage all tags in one location, this will save time in the long run, especially for larger agencies handling multiple accounts. Other Articles: Here are some additional articles out there about Tag Manager that we found interesting: