How Google Tag Manager can make your life easier
Google Tag Manager is every data lover’s best friend. It’s been around for a while but many of us shy away from it due to fear of it being over techy. Can it really help me? Is it just for the big guys? What on earth is it really good for?
Today I’m talking to Nik Cree, the GTM master, about the insight and integration benefits of Tag Manager and how it can be an asset to your overall SEO and marketing strategy.
Tune in to learn:
- What Google Tag Manager is
- What GTM is useful for
- How to access GTM
- How to hook up GTM to your WordPress site
- If you should remove other tagging plugins
- Things GTM tracks
- What Google Tag assistant is
- The biggest problems users have with GTM
- Tracking button clicks and video views
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And big thanks to onmytime for their lovely review.
Nik is a Gold Coast / Brisbane based WordPress web developer specialising in Digital Strategy for SME’s using WordPress & a variety of online marketing tools. He uses WordPress & the StudioPress Genesis Framework to create effective high performing web solutions.
Nik owns a digital agency Positive Business Online, created after 10 years in the financial services industry having started a small Mortgage Broking business & building it to a national company on the back of a successful website and online marketing strategy.
Nik enjoys working to grow businesses online with the tools available & is an avid online explorer.
Connect with Nik
- Google Tag Manager
- Google Tag Manager Tutorial
- Google Tag assistant
- WordPress Google Tag Manager Plugin
Kate Toon: Google tech manager is every data lover’s best friend. It’s been around for a while, but many of us shy away from it due to a fear of it being overly techy. Can it really help you, or is it just for the big guys? What on earth is it really good for? Today, I’m talking with Nik [Cree], the Google Tag Master.
Today, I’m talking with Nik [Cree], the Google tag manager master, about the insights and integration benefits of Tag Manager, and how it can be an asset to your overall SEO and digital marketing strategy.
Hello, my name’s Kate Toon, and I’m the head chef here at the Recipe for SEO Success, an online teaching hub for all things related to search engine optimization, and I love SEO. Today I’m talking to Nik Cree. Hello, Nik Cree.
Nik Cree: Hello Kate, good to be here. Thanks for having me.
Kate Toon: It’s lovely to have you here. Let me introduce you to everybody first. So Nik is a Gold Coast, Brisbane-based, WordPress web developer, specialising in digital strategy for SMEs using WordPress and a variety of online marketing tools. He uses WordPress and the Studio Press Genesis framework to create effective, high-performing web solutions. He owns a digital agency, Positive Business Online, created after ten years in the financial services industry. Having started a small mortgage broking business, Lord, and building it to a national company on the back of a successful website and online marketing strategy.
He enjoys working to grow businesses online, with the tools available, and is an avid online explorer. I like the online explorer bit. Now Nik and I, you and me, Kate and Nik, have met several times. Word camps, we’re a big fan of word camp, and I was also on your podcast wasn’t I, Nik?
Nik Cree: You were indeed. So yes, we’ve seen each other around quite a bit, and working with all sorts of people and talking at all sorts of places.
Kate Toon: All sorts of events, yeah. So when we were chatting at a recent word camp, Nik was espousing the benefits of Google Tag Manager, and I admitted, to my shame, that I had never set up Google Tag Manager and was instead doing my tags the old-fashioned way. So I thought today I would take you lovely listeners through what Google Tag Manager is and how to use it. So let’s get started with that, Nik. Just explain what Google Tag Manager actually is.
Nik Cree: Well, Google Tag Manager is really my new best friend. Like you, I haven’t used it … I’ve really only been using it for the past 12 months, and actively probably for about the last six to eight months. The reason is, it is just so easy to use. It probably sounds hard, because it’s got the word Google in front of it. But it’s actually surprisingly simple, and you can get away with not using a web developer, or if you need to use a web developer, it’s really on just some of the setup stuff right at the beginning.
But essentially what Google Tag Manager is, is it’s a Google property, and it’s a place where you can store all of your tracking tags. So things like Google Analytics, your Facebook tags, your Facebook pixels, things like Hot Jar, heat map tracking and click map tracking tags, and even scripts like Talk … what do they call it?
Kate Toon: Chatbots.
Nik Cree: That’s it, Chatbots that’s on the website. You can even put that into Google Tag Manager, and it activates on your site. The thing that’s really good about it is not only does it store the tags, but it’s very granular in being able to choose and manage where those tags actually fire. So either across the whole site, on an individual page, or right down to just one single element on that page that someone may or may not click on.
Kate Toon: Fantastic. So that means there’s a lot of benefits to it really. One, you’re separating your tags from your site to a degree so you’re not … we’re going to talk a little bit more about that. Two, that you can test a lot as well, and see if they’re working. But three, I love that idea that you can put the tags on individual elements. Because often what I do when I’m adding in a Chatbot tag is I put that in the footer module of my WordPress site and it fires on every single page.
But especially for things like opt-in popups, where maybe we don’t want to show our newsletter opt-in popup on the home page but maybe want to show it on a secondary page to get around that whole Google not really liking popups that cover the entire site. Things like that, that’s amazing. So I didn’t know that it could do that, that’s really awesome.
So let’s go back a step and imagine today I’m going start using Google Tag Manager. How do I access it, what do I do? Do I just use my regular Google login details?
Nik Cree: I’d say … I mean, you can use your regular Google login details. That’s good as gold, or if you’ve got a business account, a G-Suite account, that’s probably … and it’s associated with your website, that’s probably the one to use. So the one you’re actively gonna go to to check. So Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics are not places where you just set it up and walk away and never look at it again. They’re places you should check into every week. You may not check into Google Tag Manager every week, but you’ll certainly check into the things like your Google Analytics and your Hot Jar and your Facebook, to see actually what’s happening on your site.
So Google Tag Manager is really a way of managing your tags so that you can put them in and determine whether they’re working, and there’s some good tools to be able to do that, and to decide where and what you want to track. Now the best browser to use is Chrome. So Google … which is a Google tool as well. So Google Chrome has some extensions and in-built tools that when you’re using Tag Manager, you can do some really cool things to preview your tags and see what’s working, if you’ve got tags in twice, if you’ve got tags in there but they’re not actually working. So you can see them, but they’re not actually firing.
That’s probably one of my favourite features about Tag Manager is it’s just so simple. What I have found in websites and I do [inaudible] websites, which are reasonably easy to work because you’ve got plugins that you can put your tracking tags in, but so many times I’ve seen people that have put their tracking tags in, so they might put a Facebook tag in. Six months later they’ll think “Oh, I should put a Facebook tag in my website.” So they’re gonna instal another plugin and put exactly the same Facebook tag in, which they had forgotten they put in six months earlier.
So now you get tracking twice, and you get pixel firing twice, and all [inaudible] is just all out of whack. But with Google Tag Manager, at one glance you can see how many tags you’ve got in a website, whether you’ve got duplicates, and you can get rid of the duplicates.
As we found out yesterday, when we were chatting yesterday, I had two Google Index scripts running in my website.
Kate Toon: Yeah, so I think … I’m a WordPress user, and at the moment I use Monster Insights for my Google Analytics tracking. I’m not … I don’t have … maybe I have a Facebook tag. I don’t do any advertising, so it’s probably in there somewhere. And then I have other bits and bobs, and the issue is always, I think, as a non web developer, I mean I’ve built my own sites but I wouldn’t call myself a web developer, is never quite knowing where the best place to put that tag in.
But my first question is, so I’ve logged into Google Tag Manager, I’ve set up my account. How do I link Google Tag Manager to my WordPress site? Let’s start with WordPress. How do I make the connection between the two?
Nik Cree: All right, now good question. So the first thing is, is you need to go to tagmanager.google.com. You sign in with your Google login, and it’s just a click of a button to set up your Tag Manager. So you’ve got it set up. So just follow the instructions, it’s really easy. And then you’ll have a popup that’ll appear on screen, and in that popup will be a number, or a little bit of the code, that starts with GTM hyphen.
So you copy all that, and then you go to your … if you’ve got a WordPress website, you go to … you go into your website. Go to plugins and add new, and then you search for a plugin called ‘Google Tag Manager Plugin’. So there’s only one with that name, so as soon as you see it, and it’s made by Thomas Geiger, just click instal and activate. Once you’ve done that you’ll see a message come up across the top of the screen, which will say you need to enter your GTM code. So that’s that little piece of code that you’ve copied from that popup in Google Tag Manager. So you just click on that link, and up pops the configuration page. You paste in that code, you click save, you’re all connected.
Kate Toon: Fantastic.
Nik Cree: It’s as simple as that. There are a few other settings that you can set up there, but that basically is what’s gonna connect you to Google Tag Manager.
Kate Toon: Well I’ll include a link to, obviously Google Tag Manager, and also to that plugin. As you mentioned, there are other settings that you need to go through, and obviously it’s a bit tricky to explain those all over an audio. So we’ll also, in the show notes for this episode, Nik has sent across a great little tutorial by the guys at, what’s the site? WP Beginner.
Nik Cree: WP Beginner.
Kate Toon: Yeah. So we’ve got a little tutorial which will step you through this. We’re not gonna actually give you a tutorial on how to set up the Google Tag Manager on a podcast, but we want to talk about the benefits.
Nik Cree: What I will do, Kate, is I’ve taken a screen shot of all of the settings screens in that Tag Manager Plugin, with all of the options that I would recommend are ticked. So I can send you across those as well, too, and you can include those.
Kate Toon: Oh! Let’s do that. I’ll put them in the show notes. Thank you, that’s fantastic.
So Google Tag Manager and WordPress, very easy. This is one of the reason we love WordPress, because everything is just so easy. Say if I’m not on WordPress, if I’m on Shopify, on one of the other platforms, then I’m gonna have to take a little bit of code and put that in [inaudible].
Nik Cree: Yeah, just get rid of those pet forms. Just kidding. No, some of them are good pet forms, and that’s why you use them. So that code that pops up in Google Tag Manager, there are actually two scripts. There’s a box at the top and a box at the bottom. In your website setups there, you’ve got a place which is called ‘head’. So the first script gets pasted in the head, and then the second script gets pasted in something called the body tag.
If you don’t know where they are, if you’re on Shopify or [inaudible], just go to support and ask them where it is, or ask them to put it in. Oftentimes they’ll help you with that, or just find a friendly developer who can just help you with that.
Kate Toon: Awesome. So not too tricky. Okay, so I’ve installed it. Now tell me what kind of things I can track with Google Tag Manager. You’ve mentioned a few of the things there, but … so we talked about … so we can add our Facebook pixel there. We can put our Google Analytics in there. But then, what am I … I guess, what’s the point? So [inaudible] yesterday, we were talking about the fact that you can track individual things like video plays and stuff. Can you talk us through a little bit about that?
Nik Cree: Yeah, yeah. Well the first thing I would say that the essential tags you have to get installed in the first place, for anything, is Google Analytics is a must. A lot of the things won’t work unless you’ve got your Google Analytics tag in there. So set up Analytics, put your tag in.
The other one you need is Conversion Linker. So that’s actually just in Tag Manager. So just do a search for, click on tags, just do a search for ‘conversion linker’, click and activate for all pages, and you don’t need to know anything about this. You just do it.
And then the other one that is an essential to have, is your Facebook pixel. Even if you’re not advertising on Facebook or doing anything with it, put it in there. The reason is, is that it starts to collect data on your website from day one, and then if you want to start to use remarketing, then it’s already got that data there. Whereas if you decide you want to run a remarketing campaign and you stick the pixel in today, got no data to work with.
So just put all those things in to start with. And the other essential one I say is hotjar.com. Put that pixel in, because that shows you the behaviour of people on the website, where they click, what they do, how they scroll, and you can actually watch people as they are going through your website. It will record it so you can watch what they’re actually doing. If you’ve got nothing better to do, than it’s a bit of fun over a glass of wine.
Kate Toon: Is hotjar a paid product, or is there a free version?
Nik Cree: There is a free version. So I think you get something like a thousand views for free. And then if you want to do some more intensive tracking, then you can pay for it. Just the free version’s enough to find out where there are problems on your website, or what are the things you can change. I can give you an example with that there.
I did some work with a business that was selling commercial furniture to cafes and franchises. What she had on the home page was a graphic about the purchasing process. So it said something like, I can’t remember it exactly, but it was like “Select your product, add it to the cart. When you’ve added it to the cart, add your variables and options. When you click submit, you won’t pay first. What we’ll do is we’ll get back in touch with you and then we’ll deliver them in [inaudible].”
So it was just a graphic just explaining her process, but what we found with hotjar was that lots of people were actually clicking on the graphic. We though, “Oh, well that’s interesting. That must be something that people want to know more about.” So what we did then was we created another page which had a whole lot of information about the process of ordering so that … and then we linked it to that graphic, and people click on the graphic, went through to the page, and guess what happened?
Her conversions went up.
Kate Toon: Yeah. Love that … one of the things I love with hotjar is it finally, finally proves the point that no one interacts with your slider, and you get rid of it. It’s a beautiful thing when you can show someone that “I know you call cling to that slider with your cold, dead hands, but no one’s clicking on it! So let it go.”
Awesome. So those are your top tags, Facebook, Google Analytics, hotjar. That all sounds great. Listen, I know that I’m gonna do this tomorrow, and I’m not gonna do it properly. How do I know if I’ve done it properly? How do I know if the tags are working, if they’re firing, if I’ve got duplicates? Tell me about that.
Nik Cree: All right. So if you open up your website in Google Chrome, and you open up Google Tag Manager in another tab, then at the very top of it, the top right, there’s a publish button. Just to the left of that, there’s a preview button. You click on that preview button, and it’ll go through it’s thing. It’ll take a couple of seconds to reload again. Then go back to the website tab and click refresh. Right there on the bottom a panel will appear, and you will see, it will say “All the tags fired on this page,” and then it’ll have another section where it says “Tags not fired on the page.” So tags are present but not fired.
So that’s really where you see what’s on the page. Now what you can do with the tags is you can select, we talked about video views just a bit ago. So you can do some really cool things with the tags like tracking who actually clicks on the video to start it, how long they go through it. So you can set up parameters that say I want to know people that get through 10%, 50%, 75%, and people that complete the video. So it will track all those sorts of things.
If you set up a tag like that, and I can’t go into all the details, but if you just Google it, you will find there’s lots and lots of information about how to set up these different tags. So if you’ve got a video on your home page or on a page of your website, and you’re tracking the video use, if you go to that and you just click the play button and you’ve got that tag installed, what’ll happen is that video tag will move from tags not fired, up to the tags fired section of that preview screen. That’s how you know that it’s working. If it doesn’t move, then it’s not working. You need to go back and revisit it.
Kate Toon: And you can collect all this through into your Google Analytics goals well, so you can set goals in Google Analytics around these tags that you’ve done?
Nik Cree: You can. So you can set Google goals, and there’s another section which is a little bit more technical called Custom Metrics. So you can set up some custom metrics in there to track what you call … not minor [inaudible], but small things. Rather than just tracking a large item or macro item which is just a page view, you can [inaudible] it right down to a single click on a single element on the website, or a play.
Kate Toon: Wow. One of these things, and I know I’m guilty of it, that often I will go into Google Analytics, I will look at all my results, I’ll go “Oh, interesting, oh,” and then I won’t do anything about it. I think that the thing with Google Tag Manager is, you can do all this stuff, but then you have to do something with the intelligence. Things like your little example there with the hotjar and changing the graphic, that’s a profound change. Using this and Google Optimise, which is something we talked about in the previous episode with Olga [Sumerhayes], you can really actually start second-guessing what’s happening on your homepage. Stop being subjective about it. Find out the answers. It’s pretty good stuff, and it’s all free. So Google Tag Manager’s entirely free. Is there anything that we have to pay for?
Nik Cree: No, it’s all free. It’s just provided by Google, nothing you need to pay for. So fantastic tools, and we’ve got more power in our hands with the website now, than we’ve ever had in the past.
Kate Toon: That’s amazing. It’s amazing. So I think the advice to everybody is to head out there, investigate Google Tag Manager. It’s obviously difficult to explain the ins and outs of it on an audio podcast, but Nik is gonna send us all those screen shots and also we’ve got a nice little tutorial, step-by-step tutorial, at the Recipe for SEO Success website.
Nik, obviously this is something you do for your clients and you also build WordPress sites and all that kind of stuff. So if someone needs an awesome WordPress website developed, you’re the guy. Where can we find out more about you?
Nik Cree: Actually, the best place to find me is at nikcree.me. N-I-K-C-R-E-E.me, and that’s got all my contact details there. So you can come along there, click through, find me [inaudible], and that’ll take you through to my website link and all sorts of things. So feel free to contact me on any of those mediums.
Kate Toon: Fantastic, and Nik does spell his name incorrectly. There is no ‘C’. So just be aware of that. I will include links to all Nik’s bits and bobs in the show notes for the show.
Thank you ever so much for your time Nik, that was amazing.
Nik Cree: Yeah, it’s a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Kate Toon: And thanks to you for listening. If you like the show, don’t forget to leave a five-star rating and review on iTunes and [Stitcher]. Your review will help others find the show, and learn more about the lovely world of search engine optimization. As you know I like to end the show with a shoutout to one of our lovely listeners.
This time it’s from OnMyTime, and it says “Kate Toon has a teaching style that is a joy to listen to! SEO made simple and fun.” That’s awesome, I love that. Thank you very much.
Don’t forget to check out the show notes for this episode at www.therecipeforseosuccess.com, where you can learn more about Nik, check out those super important useful links, and leave a comment about the show.
Finally, don’t forget to tune into my two other podcasts, the Hot Copy podcast, a podcast for copy writers, all about copy writing, and The Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur podcast. That’s it, a short and sharp episode this week. Until next time, happy SEOing.