What is Google Tag Manager and how can hotels take advantage of it?

Google Tag Manager is a free online tool which enables multiple web scripts to be run within a tag, enabling webmasters to consolidate all their existing JavaScript and HTML tags into one, while at the same time providing a powerful platform with a range of other features.

Tag Manager was introduced by Google back in 2012 and was promoted as a way of helping non-developers to be able to easily add and manage tags without needing access to a web developer. Since the release, many website owners have been quick to adopt it as their tag management platform of choice, and since its introduction there have been various upgrades and improvements.

It’s worth noting at this point that Tag Manager isn’t an alternative to the likes of Google Analytics, the powerful free website tracking tool familiar to many hoteliers, but is instead a separate tool which supports the various Google Analytics scripts and tags.

Google Tag Manager

Should my hotel website be using Google Tag Manager?

At Travel Tripper we’ve recently made the jump to Google Tag Manager, with one of the main benefits being that it’s easier to manage the various tags that exist on a hotel website within one platform. But if your hotel is thinking of implementing Tag Manager then you’ll probably want to discover a bit more about the features and advantages of using it. You can find some benefits of the tool listed below.

Cleaner website code, and likely faster load times

Because all of your tags are running from one location (the google tag snippet which sits on your site pages), your website code should now be a lot cleaner and therefore it should theoretically load faster. Having a site with clean code, which loads faster, is going to give a positive SEO boost as an additional benefit.

Fewer issues around accessing logins & more streamlined accessibility

Whereas previously your hotel website might have had a Google Analytics script in one location, Bing conversion tracking code in another, Facebook tracking pixel elsewhere, and so on, with Tag Manager you just have one piece of code in an iFrame that is dynamically pulling all the tags that you’ve setup within your Tag Manager platform. You no longer need to question which scripts are doing what on your website pages, and you no longer have the inevitable headaches based around finding out the contact details for team members or external parties involved with the tags.

With Tag Manager you consolidate all tags in one place, and can also share access among your team and any relevant third parties. The invaluable ability to add different members to the Tag Manager account with relevant permissions, similar to Google Analytics’ own setup, is another essential element of the platform. With GTM you can add users to accounts with access only to Read, Edit, Approve or Publish (plus limiting access to the container completely) which gives you the ability to have a flexible structure to the account. Not everyone will need access to make and publish tag changes (which can be a real security issue, considering the ability to inject JavaScript into a website at scale) so you can now grant access accordingly.

Great testing options, debugging features and an option to roll back to a past version

One great feature of Tag Manager is the ability to publish changes made to your tags, as well as the ability to name and describe the version you publish. Previously, adjusting a tag on a site meant working with a developer who would have to do the installation, publishing and testing on the site code. And because changes were adopted into the code, it was hard to see when and where mistakes could have been made.

Now all of this can be done entirely within the platform. By descriptively naming the versions of changes you make, plus leaving detailed descriptions, you can be sure that anyone looking at the account will be in a good position to see its history based on previous updates. It will of course make debugging or pinpointing issues much easier too.

GTM access levels

Ease of use encourages earlier adoption of new tools and features

Because of the ease-of-use of the Tag Manager platform, as well as the number of powerful tags that it currently supports, including AdWords conversion tracking, Universal Analytics, and even HTML tags, some hoteliers may feel encouraged to try out various new tags and tools as many of the previous obstacles had been cleared. It’s now much easier and quicker for a hotel to be able to implement a Facebook conversion tracking or remarketing pixel, for example, so they may be more open to giving this digital marketing channel a try.

Event tracking can now also be setup directly from within Tag Manager, with minimal updates required to the google tag that sits on the hotels website, which previously would have involved having the particular “event” hard-coded. An example of event tracking for hotels in this instance might include tracking the number of clicks on their booking button, or the number of times a restaurant menu PDF is downloaded.

Other interesting ways Google Tag Manager can be used by hotels

Aside from all the above, there are still some additional, quite original ways that Tag Manager can be utilised by hotels. Because the platform has been around for a few years already, various digital marketers have come up with their own ingenious ways of taking advantage of Tag Manager’s capabilities—the best of which we’ve listed below.

Set your canonical tags with URL variables

A canonical tag is a line of code which instructs search engines which page is the version they’d like indexed when multiple versions may exist, which can happen when a page has SSL equivalents (https and http versions of the same page are actually two different URLs in the eyes of Google).
With some clever use of URL variables, thanks to Lucía Marín, it is possible to have these canonical tags dynamically created for all pages on a hotel’s website.

Discover how far users are scrolling on your pages

Although the bounce rate metric is relied upon heavily to check for user-bounces without any page interaction, it can be worthwhile taking the page behaviour a little further by adding a scroll-tracker on your pages. This will enable you to find out exactly how far a user went on your hotel website pages, which for example might help to understand user-flow or to determine the performance of some lengthy blog posts. The super smart people behind LunaMetrics have come up with a simple set of instructions, including some files to import (including a container JSON file), which can be done within Tag Manager to enable scroll-tracking on your site pages.

Insert structured data throughout your hotel’s website

Structured data is used by search engines to more clearly understand the information about your hotel from the website, and it’s responsible for various features you might notice whilst carrying out specific search queries within sites like Google. By marking up any relevant data on your hotel’s website, you can explicitly tell search engines more about your hotel, which in turn helps them to show these snippets of info (also known as data snippets).

This one is a bit more complicated to get right, but it’s well worth delving into as it will save you a lot of time when it comes to adding structured data to your website. This particular method makes use of JSON-LD markup code, with big thanks to Chris Goddard with his post on the Moz blog.

Nancy Huang

Nancy Huang

Nancy is the Senior Marketing Director at Pegasus and expert in strategic communication, brand development, and content marketing. She is an admitted travel junkie and loves finding amazing hotel deals when booking direct. Contact her at nancy.huang@pegs.com.

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