Google Tag Manager is a valuable tool typically used for firing events and tracking codes on your site. Most GTM users already use the tool for all of their third party tracking pixels and a variety of unique event tags such as scroll tracking. But did you know that you can also use GTM for canonicals, split testing, and tracking page scrolling on your site?
Setting Canonicals with GTM:
What are canonicals? Canonicals are used to tell search engines that similar URLs are leading to the same page. Using an HTML element, canonicals specify a preferred version of a web page for the search engine spiders to crawl. The main goal of canonicals is to prevent spiders from crawling similar links and misinterpreting them as duplicate content.
Typically setting canonicals can be a daunting task which requires hard code on the site. Here’s where GTM can come in to save the day in a pinch.
The main benefit to using GTM for setting canonicals is the ease and speed of updates in GTM. Changes can be made quickly and as pages change new canonicals can be added or edited. This can be a great option if development work on the site is difficult or requires more resources than GTM.
Downsides with this come along with any other GTM tag. If the container code is incorrect, removed, or not present on a certain page, canonicals will not be present. Similarly, if a change is made in GTM to the canonical variables, tag, or trigger, it can result in an error with the canonicals.
A/B testing is often recommended when big changes are desired on the site. We often ask ourselves as marketers “Will that really help my users?” and “How do I know this will work?” Typical A/B testing tools can cost a pretty penny to use and if only one test is required, it might not be worth the time spent learning the new tool.
For those who already have GTM in place who are looking for a simple split testing solution, you’re in luck! The whole test can be put in place using two variables, one custom HTML tag, one custom dimension, and a Universal Analytics event tag.
This is an item which can prove useful for adjusting specific elements on the page. This can mean changing the look and feel of a button, what image is being shown on the page, what color or font text is being used, etc. So for example, if you have a campaign running with a certain image, you could show half of your users another image for that promotion to see which is more effective at driving clicks and conversions.
Though this can be very useful for simple A/B tests, it does not replace the A/B testing tools on the market that can provide more in-depth testing capabilities and insights. One downside to using this method for A/B testing is that it’s possible as the page loads for a test user to see the default page prior to the test loading. By the user seeing the initial page, it could impact results of the test.
Overall, this can be a cost-saving way to create simple split tests on your site using a tool you already know and love.
Scroll tracking is a more commonly known use for GTM. This can track how users are interacting with a page to see how far they made it down the page before leaving.
It is possible to track scroll tracking in a few different ways. Some sites will track based on percentages down the page, others will track a number of different events specific to locations on the page (e.g. loaded, start reading, content bottom, recommended products, bottom of page, etc.), and it’s even possible to combine the two options.
Scroll tracking is useful when trying to understand the products that are being seen the most vs. products that might not be seen at all. If users are only making it halfway down the page, the products in the upper spots are likely the ones being purchased. This can inform decisions around where to place products in different price ranges or more popular products.
As scroll tracking uses events that do not impact your users, there are few downsides. As long as your scroll tracking is implemented correctly, a great deal of value can come from the new GTM events.