Google Tag Manager: What It Is and How To Use It

Ed Pronley


April 11, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

dark laptop screen with pink, blue, and green computer code to represent Google Tag Manager

Tracking your website visitors is important for your company’s marketing. That’s because it helps you understand your marketing performance. Better yet, how you can improve your marketing performance. After all, if you can attract people to your site, you’re one step closer to gaining a new customer or client. A great way to track your website information is through a tool called Google Tag Manager (GTM). In this article, we discuss:


What Is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a free tool that allows businesses to add marketing tags to their website without drastically modifying their source code. Tags track what people do while browsing webpages. This helps you better understand your target audience and what they like. That knowledge allows you to create more eye-catching content you know people will want to read.

GTM can pair with other tools, such as Google Analytics and Google Ads, to help you even more. When combined with these tools, businesses can learn even more about their site and how to improve it. But it’s helpful to examine other things too, like different businesses in your industry. This helps you see how other companies attract new business and how you can you do the same.

CopyPress now offers a free content analysis tool that compares your website and content with your top three competitors. Request your content analysis today to learn even more data about your site and find gaps in your marketing strategy.

“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”

Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo

How Does Google Tag Manager Work?

Google Tag Manager uses different tools and functions to make tracking and marketing for businesses easier. That’s because instead of adding tags to your website’s code one by one, GTM only needs a single piece of code to function. Companies can then use the GTM interface to add and monitor multiple tags on their site without ever touching the code again.

There are three main pieces to creating a tag on Google Tag Manager, including:


The tag itself is a snippet of code that tells GTM which services you want to send your data to. That’s necessary because Google Tag Manager allows the integration of many different programs. That includes Google software, as well as third-party platforms. For instance, you can use GTM to send information to places like Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Facebook Pixels.


Triggers tell GTM when to send information to the tag. For example, let’s say you want to know how many people view a certain webpage. You can create a “page view” trigger that tracks when people visit it. The minute they open the page, the trigger responds and sends that information to the tag.

Through Google Tag Manager’s interface, you can create triggers for almost anything you want to monitor on your site. That includes things like adding items to a shopping cart, scrolling to a certain part of a webpage, and leaving the site after looking at a certain product or service.


Variables store information that Google Tag Manager can use in two different ways. Those ways include:

  • Trigger: Trigger variables decide when a particular trigger should occur. For example, you might want to fire a trigger when your “time-on-page” variable hits 30 seconds. Once the variable meets that need, it will tell the trigger to fire.
  • Tag: Companies use tag variables to capture dynamic values. For instance, you might want to determine how many times a visitor re-opened a page since their initial visit to the site. That variable is a little more complicated than simple page views because there’s another step in the measuring process.


What Can I Track in Google Tag Manager?

Using Google Tag Manager, you can track almost any type of visitor action. You can then use that data with other analytics and tracking information to better understand your target audience. For example, let’s say you run an e-commerce website. You can track how many times people click on the “add to cart” button. Then, you can compare the number of times someone clicks on the button compared to other metrics, like your total number of website visitors.

Other metrics you can track in GTM include:

  • Scrolling
  • Shopping cart abandonment
  • Exit rate
  • Video views
  • Link clicks
  • Downloads
  • Page visits
  • Form or sign up abandonment
  • Time on page


Related: 7 Most Important Metrics in Content Marketing

How To Use Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager works with websites, mobile applications, and other forms of HTML sites. But for this tutorial, we’ll cover working with traditional websites. Here’s a list of steps to help you set up and use Google Tag Manager with your business’s website:

1. Create an Account and Container

To start, go to and create an account. During the account set-up, Google will ask for an account name and a container name. A container is what you’ll add to your website in order to track the data it receives. One account can have multiple containers.

Though you’re welcome to name your account and container whatever you want, Google recommends creating names that are recognizable. This is especially helpful if you have multiple websites or apps you’re tracking. Consider using your company name for your account name and your domain, app name, or URL for your container.

2. Install the Container Code

Once you create an account with Google Tag Manager, the program will provide you with a container code that looks like this:

Screenshot of Google Tag Manager Container Code

The container code allows GTM to access your website and perform its services. That includes adding tags and using them to track information. The code comes in two different pieces, which you need to add to every webpage you’re hoping to monitor.

Place the first piece of code in the page’s header as close to the opening <head> tag as possible. This ensures Google Tag Manager will be one of the first things to load on the page. That’s important because Google can then track data right away in case someone leaves your page before it finishes loading.

Screenshot of Google Tag Manager HTML code

The second part of the code is more of a backup, but it also helps you track users who might have disabled JavaScript. Place the second code right after the opening <body> tag.

Screenshot of the HTML Body section

If you’re worried about damaging or ruining your website’s source code, you can always talk with a web developer to help. Otherwise, if you’re hosting your website on a platform such as WordPress or Wix, there are plugins you can download that make Google Tag Manager’s setup easier

3. Create Tags

To start creating tags, click “Add a New Tag.” This will open up a window where you can name the tag and fill out the other necessary information. Because a single website might have numerous tags, it’s important to make sure that you name them something recognizable. Google recommends using the naming convention: Tag Type – Detail – Location.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to create a tag that sends information to Google Analytics every time someone downloads an eBook. The tag might read: “Google Analytics – Number of Downloads – Homepage.”

Next, you’re going to choose a tag configuration. As explained above, these tags are where Google sends the information once it’s collected. There are a few set tags that you can choose from on the list below.

Screenshot of featured tags in Google Tag Manager

However, you can also create your own by selecting “Custom HTML.” Each type of tag configuration has its own list of information to fill out. But for the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll just be talking about Google Analytics. If you create a tag for Google Analytics, you’ll need to input the Track Type, as well as the Google Analytics Settings.

Screenshot of Tack Type for Google Analytics

The Track Type includes a number of different options, such as page views and events. Events are anything that your visitors interact with, including when they click, download, or add something to their cart. Under Google Analytics Settings, select your chosen variable. For Google Analytics, this often includes where the information will be stored and sent by following a special tracking id.

Lastly, you’ll need to add a trigger. Click on the trigger type that best fits your tag type and fill in the rest of the necessary information. For instance, if you wanted to track the number of clicks, you can input the button or piece of text you want to track. Likewise, if you wanted to track the number of page views on your site, you can input the URLs of each webpage to monitor.

4. Test and Debug Tags

Before publishing your tags, Google Tag Manager allows you to test and fix them. Once you have your tags created, click the “Preview” button on the GTM dashboard. An orange banner will notify you that you’re in “Preview Mode.” Next, open up your website in a different tab and a little “Debug” window should appear at the bottom of the screen.

In the “Debug” window, you should see at least three different events listed: Page View, DOM Ready, and Window Loaded. Clicking on these events will show you all the tags which are ready to fire when these events occur. Clicking on the tags will show you all the information associated with them, including their triggers and properties. When using the “Preview & Debug” feature, you’re the only person who can view this information. So, you don’t have to worry about website visitors stumbling on it while you’re debugging.

Lastly, if you’re still unsure whether or not a tag is working, Google offers a free chrome extension called Google Tag Assistant that can help. The assistant lets you know which tags are associated with the page you’re visiting and if they’re working.

Pros of Using Google Tag Manager

Here are some of the pros to using Google Tag Manager in your content marketing:

No Need for Experienced Web Developers

GTM makes installing and managing tags easier for your business. This allows you to add tags and other trackers to your site without the need for professional web developers. When installing tags and trackers on your website manually, you often need to adjust your website’s source code.

That can be both difficult and risky for companies; especially those that conduct most of their business online. Messing with the source code might break other areas of your site that customers or you rely on, like your checkout or blog page. Worse, if it goes unreported, you might not even realize that it’s broken right away. Using GTM, you only need to add a small piece of code to your website once, and Google does the rest.

Less Hassle Compared to Individual Tags

As mentioned, Google Tag Manager only requires a small bit of code. This creates a much simpler process for businesses because they don’t have to add individual tags to their site from a bunch of different sources. Instead, GTM is compatible with other third-party software and programs, like Facebook Pixel. This allows companies to add whatever tags they prefer to use through Google’s system.

Can Use with Mobile Apps Too

Google Tag Manager is also compatible with mobile apps and other types of domains, like AMP sites. When using GTM with apps, you can update and manage the tags from Google’s interface without having to update your application. This means the tag will start working right away without hassling your users and forcing them to update their program.

Cons of Using Google Tag Manager

Here are some of the cons to using Google Tag Manager in your content marketing:

Might Slow Down Website

It’s important to ensure you don’t add too many tags to your website because there’s a risk that it could slow down your load time. Though you might not notice any significant changes at first, longer loading times can have a negative effect on your search engine optimization (SEO). That’s because when a website or webpage takes a long time to load, visitors might be less willing to wait and leave your content before they even read it. That tells search engines that your page might not be high quality and lower your ranking on the search engine results page.

Read more: A Beginner’s Guide To SEO

Still Requires Some Technical Knowledge

Though it’s easier than messing with the code on your site, it’s helpful to have some technical knowledge to work with GTM. Someone who is inexperienced with web design and coding might find it difficult to place the initial container code and understand how the variables and other parts of GTM work. However, there are helpful tutorials online that you can follow to learn more about Google Tag Manager and the best ways to use it.

If you’re looking to find ways to better understand your target audience and how they interact with your site, Google Tag Manager can be a very effective tool for you. However, it’s always best to pair analytics with high-quality marketing and content to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward. CopyPress has a team of expert writers, editors, and quality assurance specialists who know how to create effective blogs, articles, infographics, and more for all your content marketing needs. Schedule a call with us today to see how we can boost your marketing efforts and address your collected data.

Author Image - Ed Pronley
Ed Pronley

CopyPress writer

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