If you’ve got an affiliate site that is already getting traffic and you’d like to increase your earnings, or if you are about to build a new site and want to set it up properly from the start…
Then installing Google Tag Manager (GTM) on your site is one of the best things you can do right now.
I’ve been using it for over a year now. So I thought I would bring you up to speed and tell you exactly what Google Tag Manager is, what it can do, and why you should use it on your sites as well.
This is important information because it is clear to me that Google Tag Manager has helped me make more money from my sites.
So I strongly urge you to read on.
If you are nervous about trying something new, don’t be: I am going to explain all the basic terms and concepts which you need to know in order to understand how Google Tag Manager (GTM) works and why it is such a valuable tool.
Then I am going to give you a video tutorial which will show you step-by-step how to install it on your website and replace Google Analytics.
Then I’ll include a number of resources that show you how to do all kinds of cool (conversion-increasing!) tricks in GTM.
It’s a little technical, but I’ll translate it to plain English. And I guarantee that once you are done reading this article, you will understand why I recommend it so highly.
Note: for the purpose of this post I will assume that you already have a WordPress-based website, know how to use plugins, and are already using Google Analytics. If that is not the case and you are new to site-building, then I suggest read one of the other posts on this blog 🙂
Ready? Let’s go!
* * * * * * *
We’ll start from the very basics, because let’s face it: There is no point trying to explain what Google Tag Manager does if you don’t even know what a “tag” is, or why it needs to be managed in the first place. 🙂
A basic familiarity with the concepts below will make it so much easier for you to get a handle on why I like GTM so much.
So here it is: I am proud to present….
Sara’s Crash Course in Computer Geek
Here are the basic terms you need to know to be able to understand what Google Tag Manager is all about:
Code is Computer Geek Lingo for the words, letters, and symbols used to write a computer program.
It can also be used as a verb: “To code” means “to write a computer program”.
A tag is a term used in Google Tag Manager and refers to a piece of code which acts as instructions. It causes something to happen on your website or to be sent over to a third party.
For example, a tag in GTM can cause a page view or a click to be recorded in Google Analytics.
A variable stores a piece of information, such as your domain name or your property ID in Google Analytics. It could also be a number or a word.
A trigger is an event which occurs on your site which causes a tag to be executed.
An affiliate click, for example, can trigger a tag in Google Tag Manager to record that click in Google Analytics. Page views, scrolls, and hovers can also be triggers.
GTM watches for triggers, and executes the associated tag.
A container in Google Tag Manager is like a virtual Tupperware container which Google has designed especially for you, to hold all of the tags, triggers, and variables for your website.
Still with me? Good. 🙂
Don’t worry about remembering all these terms. You can come back and refresh your memory as you read the rest of this article.
* * * * * * *
So now that you speak Geek (impress your friends!), we can move on to the questions at hand:
What is Google Tag Manager, and why should you use it?
GTM is a Way for Non-Programmers to Manage Code And Do Awesome Things Without Actually Coding
Google Tag Manager is a free tool which, as its name suggests, manages your tags (code) for you.
GTM allows you to have one place – the container – which consolidates many different pieces of code provided to you by 3rd party tools (such as CrazyEgg), or by nerdy code writers who apparently have nothing better to do than to write code for fun (such as myself).
That container itself has its own small bit of code. And that container’s code is ALL that you need to add to your website. All of the tags in the container will then operate automatically.
So instead of having multiple pieces of code (for example, one each for Facebook pixel tracking, Google Analytics, third party tracking, a testing tool, etc.) you just have the ONE code for the container on your site. And once you’ve added it to your site, you never have to touch your site code again.
Every time you want to use a new tool, you can add it to your Google Tag Manager account.
Here is a very long list of tools that integrate well with GTM.
Reliable, simple, streamlined code management for non-programmers.
That, in a nutshell, is what GTM is all about.
Now for the next question:
Why should you use it and how has it increased my earnings?
First of all, you should use it for tracking.
I can say with 100% confidence that since I started tracking my affiliate clicks and adjusting my product reviews accordingly, I have made more money from my sites. In one case I was able to double my earnings without any increase in traffic.
With Google Tag Manager, you can track EVERYTHING
Unfortunately, until now it has been difficult for non-programmers to track events, like clicks or scrolls, on their site.
That’s why most people have not been doing it, and those who have – are using third party tools that are expensive and/or give only a limited amount of information.
Not anymore. With the proper triggers and tags, Google Tag Manager makes it possible to track everything and send it over to Google Analytics.
• Clicks: It can tell you exactly which links people are clicking on. It’s a great way to track how many people are clicking on your affiliate links, for example.
• Hovers: It can record hovers over images as well as over calls to action.
• Scroll Depth: You can see how far people scrolled down on any given page.
• YouTube views: Google Tag Manager can show you how many people viewed any YouTube video embedded on your site.
• Accurate Time on Page: With the proper setup, GTM can accurately tell you how long, on average, your visitors are sticking around. Google Analytics claims to do that, but it is inaccurate because it ignores the amount of time someone spent on a page if it was the last page they visited on your site.
• Adjusted Bounce rate: In GTM, you can choose what you define as a “bounce”, so that the numbers are more accurate than the default Google Analytics.
How Tracking Can Increase Your Earnings
Detailed tracking can show you what is or isn’t working on your site.
If your visitors are not clicking from your product review to a sales page, then maybe your call to action is unconvincing.
Or if your bounce rate is high, or time on page is low, then possibly your review is not appealing enough.
Or if you are reviewing multiple products on the same page, and most visitors are clicking on product #3, you might want to move it up higher in the page.
And so on.
Knowledge is power: The more you know about the effectiveness of your website, the more income you can potentially add to your bottom line.
In addition to the tracking tools, there are other technical advantages to using Google Tag Manager:
Google Tag Manager makes it simple to add new scripts to your site
Want to add a new tool to your site?
If it integrates with GTM, you just add the tag and triggers to your container, and GTM does the rest for you.
Want to add some “magic” to your site?
There are hundreds of “recipes” online that you can download into your GTM account, enabling you to do things you may not have been able to do in the past.
You’ll be able to track whatever you want, set cookies, change text only under certain circumstances, and add much more magic to your site.
(I’ve actually just written a recipe of my own, to be included in my next course, so that members can download it and automatically add conversion-improving tags to their sites!)
The result? You can focus on your sales, not on editing your code. Which was the whole point of going into marketing instead of coding in the first place. 🙂
And because Google Tag Manager manages your code outside of your website, changes you make on your site itself will not affect your existing scripts.
So if, for example, you change your WordPress theme, nothing will happen to your code. Everything will work as it did before.
GTM integrates wonderfully with Google Optimize
It would take an entire blog post to explain what Google Optimize is and how it helps you test what works and what doesn’t work on your site.
For our purposes today I’ll say that you can test almost anything with Google Optimize (and, if you are getting a good amount of traffic, then you should).
And the more you test, the more you will be able to improve conversions, increase sales, and money to your pocket.
It is the way of the future…and it’s really not that hard to set up.
Soon everyone will be switching to GTM. It has already been around for six years, and more and more sites are making the move.
You will see from my videos below that it takes only minimal effort to set it up.
In the videos, I will show you how to install Google Tag Manager and how to use it to replace Google Analytics:
(Remember: this entire post AND the videos assume that you already have a website, know what plugins are, and have been using Google Analytics.)
Video #1: How to Install GTM
Video #2: How to Connect GTM with Google Analytics
That is all you need to do right now.
You can add the bells and whistles later, by following the instructions in the additional resources section below.
- More things that GTM can do
- How to track outbound links with GTM so you know what your visitors are clicking on
- How to split-test anything for free with Google Optimize and GTM so you know what earns you the most commissions
- A site with lots of “recipes” for GTM (use only what you need – you don’t want to have unnecessary code executing on your site!)
* * * * * * *
I encourage you to go ahead and get started. In the long-run, you will benefit immensely from the wealth of information and new abilities which will become accessible to you.
I know I have.
14 thoughts on “Why Affiliate Sites Need to be Using Google Tag Manager”
You’re tracking me right now with GTM, aren’t you? 🙂
Thanks for this post, Sara. I had just discovered GTM a short time ago but hadn’t really put it to work yet. I will now.
Haha Gary. Yes I am 🙂
Let me know how it goes!
Great post Sara, I am using third party software now but will have a good look at GTM. Had no idea it was that powerful.
Yea, I’m seriously loving it!
I don’t use WordPress.
My website is hosted by Weebly. Does that mean I can’t use GTM?
If yes, do you have a GTM related article for people who don’t use WordPress?
Sorry Maurice. I don’t use Weebly so I don’t know. I think you should be able to do it, though. Probably best to ask on one of their forums.
Awesome explanation! Thanks Sara!
Thanks Amy. Great to hear from you!
I was just wondering how this ties into GDPR.
I’m not a lawyer so don’t take this as legal advice, but since GTM is essentially an interface between your site and Google Analytics (and other tools), I assume that whatever applies to GA and those tools applies to GTM as well.
Thank you so much for the great info. Sara. I see you mentioned a new course, I would seriously like to know more about that
Although I have been an Affiliate Marketer since 2011. I have been through several changes. Promoting from databases of LinkShare, Commission Junction and VigLink I have only made $5.
2017 I did promote from VigLink. I have Views, Clicks on several Traffic Exchanges, Classified Ad sites But lack in SALES!!! Even Promoted from Amazon for a few products! Lack of Sales!!!
So I am Tried! Would like some SOLID Answers!
Or is it too many Affiliate Marketers?
I Distributed Thru InCareRX a Discount Prescription Card at ER’s Hospitals, Docotors Offices, Walk-In Clinics for 3 1/2 years Which have been the ONLY Income that I have made from the Internet. But it too was Small Income!
But it too, has Large Parent Companies that Own Hospitals and Health Care Systems that Doctors are a Membership to. So I quit as I would be traveling to Doctors in Chicago, ILLinois At A Cost LOST per year!!
I was “Gun-Hole” working 4 to 5 hours a day.
Thanks a lot for this information! It works well. One thing to note though, I did jump a little late on it, and when I tried this out today, GTM forced me to use a “Settings Variable” for the Property ID instead of a Constant type. It seems they updated a bit the service and have added this… But it still worked perfectly.
Well, honestly speaking I do not have any clear idea ideal about Google Tag Manager. I use other apps/software for their purpose. Now I know which should I use.