Google Tag Manager

Last Updated on October 10, 2019

If you are in IT have you gotten frustrated or hot under the collar with the SEM department wanting to have tracking code updated all the time? If you are working SEM do you get aggravated or impatient with the IT folks taking forever to get new tracking code put on a site for a client? Don’t dismay. You have a tool that will keep IT cooled down and SEM breathing a little easier.


Getting Started


As with any new project, you can’t start without knowledge of the program or system so take some time to do the research and take notes that you understand. Even though there are easy to follow instructions sometimes you can follow your own directions easier. Whichever you are comfortable with is ok.

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With Google Tag Manager, more often than not, only one account is needed for a company even though there may be more than one website. Within the account there can be multiple Tag Managers setup. As with AdWords the advertiser should create the account and give access to the managing agency to the account. You can have multiple users to the account with each user having their own level of access to perform their duties.


A Container for Each Website


The container stores all of your tags for Google Analytics, AdWords, and 3rd party tags as well. When you create your Google Tag Manager account, you are supplied the container code and it should be put on every page of your website just below the opening <body> tag in the HTML file or template. Once you have placed the container code you can add tags such as Google Analytics. Once you have created your container, you can start adding tags. You can add new, edit existing, and delete unwanted tags at any time within the container.


After you have added or edited a tag use the Preview tool to be sure everything is working properly on your website or mobile app. After you are assured that the new tags are not causing an issue with the site, hit the Publish Now button.


If you have multiple websites you can create a new container for each additional site and not a new Google Tag Manager account for each. Google Tag Manager can also be used on mobile devices in conjunction with Firebase SDK. You will need to create a new container for mobile device apps.

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Now you are saying to yourself, “so what’s different from just adding conversion code the way I always have?” Google Tag Manager is web based and you don’t add tracking code for every conversion on every page of your website. You only have to change the container in the account. After you preview your changes and update the file all pages that the container code has been placed on is now updated with the new tag information.


Preview Your Code


The Preview tool is very helpful for being able to see how the new tracking is going to work and if it is going to adversely affect your site. Although just because you have properly added the container code to your site, doesn’t mean Preview is going to work. To enable the Preview feature click on the arrow next to the publish button and select Preview. Once this is done, you will see a debug console window at the bottom of the screen. The console gives detailed information on all the tags you have setup as well as the firing status and what data is being processed.


You can use the Summary in Preview mode to see a list of tags that have fired on the page you are on as well as a list of tags that have not fired yet. When in the Summary, select the Data Layer tab to see the five most recent events with variables set for each as well as the state of the data layer in Tag Manager. When Preview mode is first activated, that container is only accessible from that browser, although you can share access with others. Follow the instructions provided in the Share Preview option.


If you have changed tag variables or added new and did not save a copy of previous versions, have no fear they are available for you to review. Just go to the Versions tab and then to the desired version and select Action – Preview.


Tags are pieces of code that perform a function on a page, whether it records someone has come to the page or interacted with something on the page, such as a form submission for newsletter sign up or “contact us” form. This information is passed to 3rd party tracking such as Google Analytics for your client to see how they are performing.


Pull the Trigger


You build triggers that specify when the tag should fire or execute. The trigger is a condition which compares a variable you define in the trigger with its value at runtime. You can use these variables to pass information to tags or with trigger conditions.


Google Tag Manager functions best when run along with Data layers which contains all of the information you want to send to Google Tag Manager. Triggers can be setup to in GTM based on a variables value, which can be brought in from a user’s actions such as a shopping cart. If you want to fire a remarketing tag if they have a total purchase of a certain amount, the cart total is compared to the variable and the tag is fired. The data layer code is placed on the pages where its contents are needed. If there are variables defined in the data layer the code must be place before the GTM code.


More to Learn


Don’t let something new scare you away from trying it. Google Tag Manager will give you ease of mind and lighten your work by having to go to one web based application to make changes for your entire site or sites. These are just highlights on how Google Tag Manager can be a benefit to you.


–Gary Harvison, PPC Account Manager

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