Google Tag Manager: what it is and how to use it

Last week we introduced schema mark-up and told you about its benefits. Today we’ll take a look at another SEO technique we use here at Edge45®: Google Tag Manager.

What is Google Tag Manager?

In a nutshell, Google Tag Manager quickly adds or updates webpage tags.

A ‘tag’ is basically a bit of JavaScript code used to collect marketing data from your webpage and send it on to a third-party service like Google analytics, AdWords, Twitter or Facebook for example. These ‘tags’ are just small snippets of code that would usually be added directly to a website template file and would need to be entered by a proficient web coder. If you want to test a new tag, or edit an existing one, this could be take several days or weeks to perform depending on the turnaround time of your web developer.

Without Google Tag Manager you cannot add, remove, enable or disable any tag easily from a central interface: you need to have the code removed and then add the new HTML code to the template file to enable the new or revised version. This requires a lot of work and coding changes, especially if you have a large website.

How do I use Google Tag Manager?

There is a set-up wizard at which will guide you through the process.

All tag management takes place through the GTM platform.

What are the benefits of Google Tag Manager?

There are numerous benefits. Our favourites:

  • No need to keep hard editing code. One GTM container code on each webpage stores and arranges the marketing and analytics tags, accessed through the GTM user interface, these can be altered with just a few clicks.
  • Rapidly test and deploy tags. In a matter of minutes, tags can be tested and deployed in real time to respond to changes in marketing conditions.
    Advanced tracking capabilities. GTM provides built in tags and variables to implement advanced tracking in a very short time span, GTM can track clicks on ‘submit’ buttons embedded on a page within minutes.
  • Efficient and user friendly. All your website tags can be changed from one central user interface, this keeps personnel costs down, especially with the dozens of marketing and analytics tags on a typical website.
  • Greatly enhanced website speed. When tags are activated in GTM it happens in an asynchronous way- a slow loading tag will not block other tags from being executed.

GTM is a strong tool, but it is not something that is easy for anyone to use. Many non-coders start to set up the system but quickly get lost during the set up and configuration, leading to expensive and time consuming corrections.

To get the best out of GTM we recommend the services of a coding expert to set up and manage the user interface. Once the code is integrated on your web pages, your digital marketing agency can really maximise the benefits for your site. This is a particularly useful strategy for e-commerce sites to use so they can reap the rewards of future simplicity with a small investment in set up costs.

If you would like to explore the possibilities of using Google Tag Manager as part of your digital marketing strategy, we’d love to hear from you.