Understanding how users come, go and interact with your website is by far one of the best ways to increase sales, conversions and better meet your customers’ needs. Do you know what site refers the most traffic to you and why? What about your conversion rate for mobile users vs desktop? Or what about more intricate stats like why new users in California using Safari who found your site in Google are more likely to sign up for your newsletter than those who use Internet Explorer? If this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. Using tools like Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics to analyze this data makes it simple to understand. These tools are just a couple that make tracking possible while also being free — so why aren’t you doing it yet?

If you’re not much of a programmer, implementing these tools isn’t always the easiest. Some CMSs or content management systems require the full script to install while others only ask for your tracking ID. It can get confusing. That’s why we broke down each step to install both Google Tag Manager (GTM) and Google Analytics (GA). We also cover some of the major features in both tools and give you a brief intro to search engine optimization (SEO) basics.

Before we get started, we have a few recommendations on tools you should download and use.

Recommended Tools

  • Google Chrome
  • GA Debug Chrome Extension
  • Tag Assistant Chrome Extension

Google Tag Manager

We are going to somewhat jump between Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics, but we promise to move slow and thorough. Trust us, it’ll make sense in the end.

Now, let’s start with Google Tag Manager (GTM) — what is it? Google Tag Manager is a tool made by Google to simplify the way you create, manage and edit tracking codes on your website. In the past, installing multiple tracking codes like Google Analytics, AdWords and Facebook confusing and difficult for the layman to handle. Web developers were basically a requirement. Now after installing GTM, you’ll be able to add a tag for Google Analytics and any other tracking code with just a few clicks.

Create Account

First things first, we need to create a log in. Visit https://www.google.com/analytics/tag-manager/ and click “Sign Up for Free” to get started.

After signing in, it’s time to set up your account. Add an account name, container name and select “Web”. Your account name and container name will usually be your business name and website i.e. Merodos, merodos.com.

Step One - Add account and container name.

Click “Create” and agree to the Google Tag Manager Terms of Service Agreement to complete your account setup.

Create & Install Container

The next screen should give you two pieces of code to place on your website.
Install Google Tag Manager code popup

This is where things may get complicated. First, find out what CMS you use for your site. Do you use the ever popular WordPress? Maybe you have a larger ecommerce store and use Joomla, Drupal or Magento? Or do you use website building service like Squarespace, Wix or Shopify? Each CMS handles implementation a bit differently, we’ll go ahead and walk you through all of them.

WordPress

With WordPress being the number 1 CMS, we’ve provided a couple of different ways to install Google Tag Manager.

Plugin

The first and easiest way is through a plugin like Yoast or Google Tag Manager for WordPress. First, open up a new tab, login to your website and go to Plugins. Search for your preferred plugin, install it and activate it. Search the WordPress navigation to find your newly installed plugin.

These plugins should have a simple interface and just have a place for your Google Tag Manager ID. If you go back to your tab with the Install Google Tag Manager popup code displayed, you’ll find your ID at the end of the first container. It looks something like GTM-XXXXXXX.

Copy your ID and paste it in the plugin form and you’re done!

Header

The second way to install GTM on your WordPress site is the manual approach. Most modern themes have Additional Head and Additional Body forms for you to add customized code to the page templates. If they exist, you’ll find them in the theme settings.

If your theme is lucky enough to have these, simply copy the code given in the Google Tag Manager popup in the corresponding forms.

If your site does not have these forms, you’ll most likely be required to make a child theme and place the code in the between the <head></head> tags in the header.php file. Learn how to create your child theme here.

FTP

If your site is running on a CMS like Magento, Joomla or Drupal, you’ll also have to manually install the code in your theme’s header.php file or similar. We highly recommend contacting a web developer as these CMS’ have a complicated directory and placing the code in the wrong place could break your website.

Website Builders

Website builders are limited in the amount of tracking capabilities offered. Most only offer simple tracking codes like Google Analytics. Usually, you’ll find these forms under advanced settings.

Here are instructions for Squarespace and Wix. We highly recommend switching to a more flexible CMS to not only take advantage of tools like Google Tag Manager, but also for SEO purposes. Website builders are usually bad for your site’s health due to pagenation issues.

Test It Out

Once you’ve install GTM, it’s time to check if you installed it correctly. Open a new tab and navigate to your website. Click the Google Tag Assistant Chrome extensions icon and click “Enable”. Refresh the page and Google Tag Assistant should indicate correct installation by displaying a green tag. If your tag is not green, click the extension and follow the instructions given.

Start Adding GA Tag

Now that our tag manager is installed and running correctly, it’s time to add our Google Analytics tag. Navigate to your Google Tag Manager account and click “Add a New Tag”. Click “Untitled Tag” and name it “Universal Analytics”. Next, click the center of the Tag Configuration container. Select Universal Analytics.

Before we can complete the new tag, we need to make sure we have a Google Analytics account set up.

Google Analytics

By now, you probably already know what Google Analytic is. It’s Google’s web analytics platform that tracks and reports your website’s traffic. If you don’t have an account yet, visit google.com/analytics/.

Create Account

Click “Sign Up” and complete the new account information. Usually, Account Name will be the name of your business, and the Website Name will also be your business name. For Website URL, it is important to select the correct protocol (http:// or https://). Next, select your Industry Category, Time Zone and click “Get Tracking ID” at the bottom of the page. Agree to the Google Analytics Terms of Service Agreement and you’re account is complete.

Install Tracking Code

You should be redirected to a page with your GA Tracking ID. Copy this code and return to the tab where we began adding our Universal Analytics tag in Google Tag Manager.

Google Analytics Tracking ID and Global Tracking Code

Under your Universal Analytics tag, select Page View for “Track Type” and New Variable for “Google Analytics Settings”. A new tab should slide out requesting your GA Tracking ID. Paste the code and name it Google Analytics Settings. Then, click save.

Completed Google Analytics tag in Google Tag Manager

Next, click the center of the Triggering container and select All Pages. Then, save the tag. Click Submit in the top right corner and congratulations — you’ve just installed Google Tag Manager with a Google Analytics tag!

Set Up Goals & Filters

Now that both Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics, it’s time to make some minor but important adjustments. In your Google Analytics account, navigate to Admin > Filters (under All Web Site Data) and click add new filter.

The first thing we want to do is add a filter to remove all the website traffic from your home and/or office. Why? For a few reasons: 1) you will not convert since you are not a customer 2) you will arguably spend the most time on your site which will skew your data.

How to set up a filter in Google Analytics

After clicking “Add Filter”, keep Creating new filter checked and name the filter “Home IP”. For types, select Exclude > traffic from the IP addresses > that are equal to. Then, enter your IP address. If you don’t know what your IP address is, simply Google it.

Click save and your first filter is complete!

Goals are essential to tracking activity on your website. Goals can range from selling a product or signing up for a newsletter to reading a blog post for five minutes or watching your latest video. To keep it simple, we’ll create a goal for completing a contact form.

In Google Analytics, navigate to Admin > Goals (under All Web Site Data) and click new goal. Select “Contact Us” for the template and click continue. The goal we’d like to track is submissions on our home page contact form. We will name the goal Contact Us – Home and keep the goal slot ID as is. The form redirects to a success page after sending so we selected “Destination” as our type. Under Goal details, we put the success page URL for the destination.

How to set up goals in Google Analytics

Now, Google Analytics understands that a completion of our form is considered a conversion.

Bonus