Hey, You.

UpBuild loves working with Google Tag Manager. Not only is GTM a tool that can make or break a great analytics implementation, it's one that's still being improved upon after almost seven years. Plus, it's one that lets marketers implement non-analytics — and occasionally delightfully unconventional — ideas as well, e.g., Semantic SEO. All in all, GTM is a very powerful tool to keep in your tool chest. 

In this newsletter, I wanted to answer some of UpBuild's frequently asked questions around Google Tag Manager. Questions like:

  • Can you add GTM to a page if it already has Google Analytics on it? 
  • Can we do X if we're using a different tag manager? 
  • What's up with this odd error that our developer is telling us about now that we've added GTM to our site? 
  • And more!

Find all the answers — along with links to further reading — below.  

Until next time, happy optimizing.

Mike Arnesen

Founder & Geek-at-Large at UpBuild

Do you have a specific analytics or SEO question you'd like to get answered? Have a topic you'd like to see covered in a future newsletter?

"Our developer reported that after adding GTM, we have an error saying 'Failed to load resource: the server responded with a status of 404'."

If you're seeing an error like the one quoted above, you've likely just installed GTM on your site for the first time. You or your developer(s) noticed this and, understandably, want to know what's wrong! The good news is that nothing's wrong, per se. It's just that the particular Google Tag Manager "container" (where all your site's tags, triggers, and variables live) simply hasn't been published. Once you do that for the first time, the error will resolve and you'll never see it again.

For more on the why and how of this pesky GTM issue, check out Will Hattman's post on the subject

"If my company uses Tag Manager X instead of GTM, can I still implement Y?"

The short and simple answer is "yes". Never forget that GTM is simply an implementation method — one of many. If you strip away all the Googliness and UX, GTM is nothing more than a glorified JavaScript injector. Through its semi-user-friendly interface and lists of tag and trigger types, all GTM really does is add JavaScript code to your site so that your development team doesn't have to. In essence, this is all any tag management platform does. Many of the things that UpBuild and other analytics experts blog about can be implemented (or at the very least adapted) within other tag management paradigms. What's more, most of the ideas we present on our blog can be implemented as directly-applied JS without any tag manager at all. 

Just something to keep in mind. 

"Do ad blockers interfere with GTM's ability to track site visitors?"

Some, but not all, ad blockers will indeed prohibit GTM from doing anything during a user's browsing session. That's because some ad blockers will block any request to any Google service and that includes and If an ad blocker is that heavy-handed (blocking all Google requests rather than just the advertising-related ones), there's a solid chance the ad blocker is blocking all 3rd-party scripts from loading, so say goodbye to any analytics data or conversion recording for that particular user.

The cold hard truth is that this is just the way of the modern web. A growing percentage of people out there are diligently using ad blockers to protect their privacy and/or improve their browsing experience. Web analytics has never been able to show the 100% complete picture that includes every visitor to a site (there's always some portion of untrackable traffic), so we must simply make do with the fact that this portion will continue to grow over time.

For my part, I'll take what I can get, and, as a data-driven marketer, be pretty happy about it. 

"Can you have GTM and GA running on your site at the same time?"

Yes, you can! Just make sure the division of responsibilities is clear. If GA has historically been the way you've tracked page views, don't set up GTM to do the same thing. Use GTM to layer additional tracking onto GA's foundation, but be careful not to double-count things or confuse your organization's naming conventions. 

For more on this topic, check out Laura McDougall's great post

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