Google Tag Manager: Full Installation Guide
What’s covered in this GTM installation guide
What is Google Tag Manager?
Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a free management tool that allows you to set up and manage tags (little snippets of tracking code) in one convenient place.
- Want to track your Facebook campaign? There’s a tag for that!
- Want to track your Google Ads campaign? There’s a tag for that!
Simply put, the platform makes it incredibly easy for you to remove old tracking tags or implement new ones.
How does Google Tag Manager work?
The tags that are created in GTM and are implemented on your website will feedback on the data and display it through Google Analytics so you can easily understand the data it collects
Setting up GTM
- To get started with GTM, head to – https://tagmanager.google.com/
- From there, create an account or log in to an existing one.
- Then you can enter your company information and in container setup, you can enter your URL and name your container. Your business or website name is preferable.
- You will need to agree to terms of service and comply with GDPR. You will then be shown your container code.
- A container is a place where you can have a collection of tags. The structure of your GTM account is:
Account > Container > Tags
- In the container, you can manage your tags. This means you can have multiple containers if you have multiple websites.
- For every data source (website, app etc) a new container will need to be implemented.
Installing Your Google Tag Manager Container
Now you have your container tracking code, this will need to be installed into the <head> and opening <body> of your website’s source code
- The <head> snippet will need to be pasted directly below the opening <head> making it as high as possible. This will mean any tags will be fired sooner providing much more reliable tracking metrics down the line.
- The <body> snippet will need to be pasted directly below the opening <body> section.
Note: Check that your CMS supports adding code to the <body> as not every platform does. If it doesn’t, you can add this snippet to the footer field.
If adding the container snippet to your source code feels like too much of a daunting task – or you don’t have a developer on hand to help – don’t worry, you’re not alone! You may have another option when it comes to installing Google Tag Manager on your website… plugins!
Google Tag Manager plugin installation
Depending on what CMS you use, the name will be different – it could be called plugins, apps, or extensions. For this guide, we will refer to them as plugins.
Most CMS platforms have reputable GTM plugins readily available, making installation of your container a piece of cake! Obviously, we can’t list every CMS here, but we’ve collected a list of the most widely used CMS platforms and the best free plugins to use.
For the best WordPress Google Tag Manager plugin, we highly recommend ‘Google Tag Manager for WordPress’ by Thomas Geiger. With over 600k installs and a 5-star rating, it’s a no brainer why you would choose this plugin.
- Once you’ve found and installed the plugin, head to your plugins list and select ‘Activate’, ‘Settings’.
- Go back to GTM – copy your GTM ID, which can be found in the header. The format of this ID will be GTM-XXXXX.
- Back in WP – paste the ID in the GTM ID section and save.
If you’re using the free version of WIX, I’m sorry to tell you that you cannot implement Google Tag Manager and will need to upgrade. For the paid users of WIX, adding GTM has never been easier with their native integration with Google.
- Log into WIX and select ‘Manage Site’, ‘Tracking & Analytics’, ‘New Tool’, ‘Google Tag Manager’.
- Copy your GTM ID, which is found in your header on Tag Manager, and paste it into the measurement ID section. Click ‘Apply’.
Now that you have added your container to your website or you have installed your plugin, the next step is to ensure Tag Manager is connected properly.
How to make sure Google Tag Manager is working
Ensuring the implementation was a success
Whether you’ve manually installed your container or used a CMS plugin, ensuring the container has been implemented correctly is the same method.
- Go to GTM, select ‘Preview’.
- From there, enter your URL and click ‘Connect’.
- This will open another window with the URL you have entered. In the bottom right of the screen, it should now read ‘Tag Assistant Connected’.
- Head back into GTM to check that GTM has connected to your website.
Now that you have successfully installed your Google Tag Manager container, you can now implement various tags.
The first tag you’ll want to setup is a GA4 configuration tag. You can follow our full GA4 guide to learn how to setup this tag, what it will show you, and how to ensure the tag is firing properly.
What you need to know about Google Tag Manager
There are 3 main components to tags in GTM.
- Tags – the whats
- Triggers – the when
- Variables – the how
For basic tags, you can start off by creating tags and setting the triggers. For more complex or specific tags, that’s where variables come in. Read our guide to Google Tag Manager tags, triggers, and variables to learn more.
Tags, triggers and variables can all be configured to track anything and everything for your website. In addition, Google Tag Manager can create tags for non-Google platforms such as Facebook, Hotjar, Outbrain and even custom HTML tags (allowing you to create your own bespoke tags).
- Google Tag Manager will make your life easier when it comes to implementing, managing and experimenting with tracking codes.
- Its user-friendly interface and integration with many 3rd party platforms make it a must-have for all businesses regardless of their size.
If you need any help with Google Tag Manager, be sure to check out our series of Google Tag Manager & Google Analytics insights to stay up to date with the latest news and features.