For the average user, they may all be the same, but after a few of these three headaches, I can promise you that they are different!
We often see conflicting, mis-launched, and broken versions of Google Analytics (GA), Global Site Tag (Gtag), and Google Tag Manager (GTM) implemented on sites, but what do they do and which ones are preferred?
This is a guide to tracking visits and hits to your site. This is a web-based service that collects information from your visitors as they browse and interact with your site. There have been some iterations, including Classic, Universal, and GA4 – but for simplicity, we simply call them Google Analytics.
Google’s global site tag
This is a relatively new way to connect your site to Google Analytics. Instead of installing a traditional GA script on your site through a header, a global site tag is basically a script that communicates between your GA and all other services, such as advertising, remarketing, and so on.
Google Tag Manager
Which one should I install?
It’s getting a little tricky here. In essence, you want the GA script to run once per page, and then use other scripts for your further tracking.
It can mean just a GA script, just a GTM script, just a Gtag, or more. In either case, the output should be that your GA script is run once and your custom scripts are run as needed.
Therefore, if you use GTM or Gtag to run a GA script, you do not want a hardcover GA script. We’ve seen this a few times, especially when switching from one to another and the old code isn’t removed. Its light is a sharp jump in pages / sessions and a drop in bounce rates in GA.
Should I switch?
Switching from the old GA script to GTM or Gtag is a good idea. Personally, the preferred method is GTM, but it has a rather learning curve.
GTM is likely to be suitable for agencies or how many people use it because it relies on setting custom triggers in the web interface.