What is Google Tag Manager? An Ultimate Beginner’s Tutorial

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I’m sure you’ve probably heard about Google Tag Manager.

There’s no doubt about it.

When you’re trying to grow your business online whether that be through Search Engine Optimization (SEO), paid traffic like PPC ads or Facebook ads, referrals, or direct traffic, you absolutely need to be tracking your visitors with Google Analytics.

Doing so is crucial to growing the reach and footprint of your business online.

Collecting the right data is something that the experts say over and over, but it’s not a cut and dry experience.

There are tons of 3rd party tools that you can use that help you in your quest for maximum growth online, but one of the most important tools you can use that helps stick everything together is something called Google Tag Manager.

What are Google Tags?

Tags are snippets of code that you place on your website that pulls out specific information.

This information is useful to business owners and marketers because it will help you understand your user’s actions on your website.

Tags can pull data like form submissions, when users click on certain elements, if they watch a video and how long they’ve watched it for, where they came from to arrive on your site, and much much more.

Each specific tag you create tracks a different action or “event”.

The benefit of creating these tags and having them on your website is that they relay even more detailed information to Google analytics.

Not only do they give you more data, but they also give you a deeper understanding of the actions people are taking (or not taking) when they come to your website.

Because of the struggle of manually placing the tags on each page of your website which is a time-consuming task, especially if you don’t have any coding experience, Google created what’s called “Google Tag Manager”.

Otherwise known as “GTM”, Google Tag Manager is a godsend when it comes to easy integration of multiple tags into any website.

How Does Google Tag Manager Work?

Remember how I mentioned above that before GTM, you had to manually code each page with each specific snippet of information that you wanted to track?

Google Tag Manager makes it easy for you because it gives you one universal piece of code that you (or your developer team) needs to place on every page of your website.

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Once you do that, you’re half of the way there.

Now, all the things that you want to track, things like Analytics, events, and goals that I mentioned earlier will be added within Google Tag Manager.

Because of that, you never have to add any more code to your website since you already added the GTM tag.

The best part about Google Tag Manager is that it’s free.  In the remainder of the article, we’re going to show you how to set up your account, create new tags, how to integrate GTM with your GA (Google Analytics) account, and how to place the snippet of code in your WordPress website.

How To Set Up Google Tag Manager

First things first.  You have to set up your free account.  Keep in mind that it isn’t apart of your Google Analytics account or your Gmail account, so even if you have those you’ll still have to go through the setup process.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. Sign up for an account

Head over to the GTM website and log into your Google Account.  There will be a blue button on the right that says “Create Account”.

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Next, you’ll see the “Add a New Account” page where you type the company name, your country, and set up your container.

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The container requires a container name “yoursite” and a target platform.  For this example (and to set up a regular website) you want to choose the “web” option.

After you hit the create button you’ll be shown the Google Tag Manager Terms of Service Agreement.

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Go ahead and accept that to move forward with the setup of GTM.

2. Follow the instructions to place code on your website

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After you sign up for your account, you’ll be greeted with this popup that asks you to copy the code and paste it into every page of your website.

The top snippet goes into the <head> of the page (as high as possible)

The bottom snippet of code goes immediately after the opening <body> tag.

If you don’t understand how this works then you can hire a developer on Upwork to do it for you.

How To Install Google Tag Manager in WordPress

If you’re running WordPress then it’s fairly simple to install GTM into your website.  We use this plugin which makes setting up quick and painless.

Simply go to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to the Plugins tab.

Once there, search for the Google Tag Manager for WordPress plugin.  Click the “install” and then “activate” plugin.

After that’s finished, all you have to do is head over to the settings tab and scroll down to “Google Tag Manager”.

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All you have to do at this point is close the pop up on your GTM dashboard and find your Google Tag Manager ID.  Simply copy that ID and paste it into the Google Tag Manager ID area in the WordPress Plugin.

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How To Set Up a Tag in Google Tag Manager

After you get the snippet of code installed on your website, it’s time to set up a tag.

You have the ability to create unlimited configs of tags within the Google Tag Manager system.

1. Create a new tag in GTM

Simply click that “Add a New Tag” button below, that we’ve circled in red.

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2. Configure your tag

Next, you want to title your tag and then click into the “Tag Configuration” box to choose the type of tag you want to create.

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3. Choose a tag type

We have a bunch of different tag types to choose from, but for this specific example, we’re going to show you how to set up your Google Analytics account inside GTM.  Choose “Google Analytics: Universal Analytics”.

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4. Configure the tag

After we choose the tag type, we’re going to have to set up a few things.

Firstly, we need to set up the “track type”.  For this example, we’re going to be using the “Page View” tracking because this is the basic tracking type that needs to be set up first.

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After that, we need to set up our “Google Analytics Settings” variable.

In other words, we have to add our tracking ID from Google Analytics into this settings variable so that our GTM tag will connect with our analytics tracking.

How To Find Your Google Analytics Tracking ID

If you don’t know where your Google Analytics tracking ID is, then simply follow the instructions below:

Head over to Google Analytics and log in.

Just like GTM, the ID is next to your notifications in the top right corner.

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Copy that and then head back to your GTM.

5. Creating the Google Analytics Settings Variable

Now that we’ve got our GA tracking ID, simply click the dropdown where it says “Select Settings Variable” and select “New Variable”.

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Name the variable “Google Analytics – Base – Page View”.

After naming, go ahead and paste your Google Analytics Tracking ID into the “Tracking ID” area.

Leave the Cookie Domain to “auto”.

Click “Save”.

Now, in the future, if we ever create another Google Analytics tag we’ll be able to choose this settings variable so that we don’t have to do this again.

From here, all we have to do is apply a trigger.

What is a Trigger In Google Analytics?

A trigger is an action that needs to take place so that the tag will fire.  In this example, we want our page view tag to fire whenever somebody visits any page on this website.

That will transmit the info over to Google Analytics and we can see our traffic stats.

There are tons of different triggers and we can get very detailed into how they work, but this is a very simple and beginner-friendly overview.

Google has great GTM academy training that takes you from A-Z when it comes to learning and understanding Google Tag Manager.

I highly recommend it.

6. Choosing a trigger

Now that we know the basics of a trigger, let’s set one up.

Click anywhere in the “Triggering” box to open the menu.

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For this example, we want to choose the “All Pages” trigger.  Simply click the text that says “All Pages”.

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Once you do that, you’ll be taken back to the configuration page.

As you can see here, we have the tag type setup with our Google Analytics settings variable along with the “All Pages” trigger.

This means that Google Analytics will fire when somebody comes to our website.  It doesn’t matter what page they land on.

Lastly, to save this tag, well… Click Save.

8. Publish Workspace

After you save the tag you’ll be greeted once again by your main Google Tag Manager dashboard.

You’ll notice two buttons in the top right corner.

One is “Preview” and the other is “Submit”.

In order to activate this tag and make it live you need to hit the “Submit” button.

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Simply hit “Publish” and you’re good to go.

We don’t typically name the version, but if you want to you can.

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Finally, hit “Continue” and you’ll be sent to the version 1 summary which gives you a breakdown of the Google Tag you just created.

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That’s it.

Now you’ve successfully set up your Google Tag Manager account, added the snippet of code to your WordPress website, and created your first tag.

Conclusion

Remember, the Google Tag Manager Academy is a great place to learn more detailed information regarding specifics and how to record more detailed data points.

If this article interests you, I highly recommend giving that course a go.

It’s created by Google and it’s completely free.

We want to hear from you!

Did this article help you set up your Google Tag Manager?

Was there anything we missed?

Leave a comment down below!

By Bobby L

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