Using Google Tag Assistant to Test Tracking Setups

Proper tracking is paramount to the success of any PPC campaign. An incorrectly installed conversion tag prevents leads from being counted properly, impacting your ability to bid based on the data.

Checking your tracking setups is a crucial step in setting up any campaign, and tracking errors can frequently cause frustration when troubleshooting. Thankfully, the Google Tag Assistant Chrome extension allows you to check that tags are firing properly for Google Analytics and Google Ads, with in-depth features to delve further into issues.

In this article, I’ll cover setting up the extension, viewing data, and using the recording feature for more extensive troubleshooting.

Setting Up Google Tag Assistant

First, if you haven’t installed Tag Assistant, add it to Chrome. Now, you’re ready to test tracking setups on your websites or your clients’ sites.

Next, note that Tag Assistant will only show you data for tags related to Google products. The main uses for PPC marketers will include Google Ads conversion and Remarketing tags, as well as Google Analytics tags (both the main global tag and event-specific tags). These don’t have to be installed via Tag Manager in order to be picked up by the extension.

Tag Assistant Overview

Once you’ve installed the Chrome extension, you can navigate to any page and click the Tag Assistant icon to see which tags are firing on the site. If it’s not enabled for a particular site, you may need to click “Enable” and refresh the page.

You’ll also see whether tags are correctly installed, or if errors are preventing them from firing properly. A green symbol next to a tag indicates that it’s installed properly and firing. A blue symbol indicates that the tag is functioning, but has a non-standard implementation that could interfere with it working correctly. A red symbol indicates that a tag is installed incorrectly and may not be firing.

Note that sometimes warnings can be false flags, particularly if there’s a custom deployment of tags outside of Tag Manager, so you may want to double-check Google Ads or Google Analytics to see if data is indeed flowing in or not. That’s also where recordings can come in handy to show greater details about whether tags are firing or not, and whether Google Analytics is receiving data.

You can click on any tag to see further details, including recommendations on correcting an improper implementation.

Tag Assistant Recordings

Going a step beyond top-level data, the recording feature of Tag Assistant allows you to see play-by-play which tags fired. This allows for in-depth troubleshooting of tracking setups.

To activate this feature, select “Record” at the bottom of the box that opens up when you click the extension.

You can now click through the site, conducting actions as a normal user. For instance, you might want to test filling out a form to be certain the conversion tag actually fires.

When you’re done, click “Stop Recording” from the same box, and you’ll see a summary of pages tracked and tags fired. Click “Show Full Report” to see the details.

Now, you’ll see a complete report summarizing each page you viewed, each action taken on pages, and every tag fired. You can select dropdowns to see further details for each:

If you’re trying to troubleshoot Google Analytics, click Google Analytics Report at the top. Be sure to log into the Google account associated with the proper Analytics account for the most complete data.

You’ll now see a breakdown of pageviews and events fired into Google Analytics. For instance, you could use this to troubleshoot if an event-based goal is actually firing properly.

You can also see potential errors flagged. In this example, resulting from multiple installations of Google Analytics code, the same pageview has fired twice, possibly causing duplicate data.

Even if you’re not code-savvy, sending this report to a developer may provide them with the technical insight needed to troubleshoot tracking issues.

Start Testing!

If you haven’t yet installed the Tag Assistant extension, add it to your browser and start reviewing tracking setups on the sites you work on. If you’ve used the basic features but haven’t yet tested a recording, try going through the conversion process on a site to try it out. This extension offers powerful insight to ensure that you have the proper tracking in place and that you’re able to get the data you need in order to optimize campaigns.

You can also explore our BIG List of Google Tag Manager Guides & Resources for more on setting up tracking.

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