Google’s new(ish) gtag.js (Global Site Tag) – What is it? And do you even need it…

Google’s launched a new global site tag called gtag.js!

Well it isn’t new exactly as it was introduced in 2017, but if like me, you might have received emails from Google asking you to update to their new tag from the old .js tag.

If you haven’t received these emails, maybe you’ve recently needed to install Google Analytics on your website, or you’ve recently set up conversion tracking in Google AdWords, then you might have noticed that the tracking code looks different.

Either way, you’ll now see the new global site tag in Google Analytics, and Google AdWords. So what is gtag? What are the benefits? And should you migrate?

The new global site tag is designed to streamline tagging on your website. It’s been created by the team that develops Google Tag Manager at Google and replaces the previous analytics .js tag for Google Analytics, and the previous conversion tracking tag from Google AdWords.

Using the new global site tag means that you’re using the latest tracking tag from Google. And you’ll be able to access new features that Google releases.

What if I am using Tag Manager?

The first question you might be asking is, what do I need to do if I’m currently using Google Tag Manager? The answer to this is simple. Nothing (assuming you are using their built in tag type and not using a custom HTML tag type).

The global site tag is really designed for people who aren’t using Google Tag Manager yet. So if you’re already using Tag Manager, and you’re sending data to Google Analytics, using the built in analytics tags, then you don’t need to do anything.

Just to highlight you shouldn’t be removing the inbuilt Google Analytics tags and using a custom HTML tag either. This won’t give you any extra benefits.

Should I use the new site tag?

Now you might be asking who should use the global site tag… well basically, anybody who isn’t using Google Tag Manager. So if you currently have the Google Analytics tracking code embedded directly on your website, then you should consider migrating to gtag.js.

If you’re currently using the dedicated Google AdWords conversion tracking code, which is the conversion .js code, then you need to migrate to gtag.js to avoid inaccurate conversion tracking. This is because of the recent addition of intelligent tracking prevention in Safari by Apple, which means you’ll be missing conversion data with the old tracking tag.

However, if you’re going to take the time to migrate, then you’re probably going to see more benefit by implementing Google Tag Manager. If you do, you’ll be able to take advantage of tag management and all of the new built in triggers in Google Tag Manager.

An alternate option is to link Google AdWords to Google Analytics and import your conversions into AdWords, this will mean that you’re accurately tracking conversions. Even on Safari, the global site tag is really designed for people just using Google Analytics. And just using Google AdWords tracking, the best way to think of the global site tag is a simplified version of Google Tag Manager.

It provides new flexibility. For example, you can currently modify the tag to simultaneously track into Google Analytics and Google AdWords. Here’s an example of one tag that will only send data to Google Analytics, and another tag that will only send data to Google AdWords.

And here’s an example of a modified tag that’s sending data to both Google products.

If you’re looking to use the global site tag, you can find it in Google Analytics by navigating to admin, and then selecting tracking info, and then tracking code. Here we can see the tracking code is gtag .js.

And if you’re in Google AdWords, you can find it by navigating to conversions. And when you create a new conversion, you’ll be given the global site tag to track conversions into your AdWords account.

So these are the benefits of the global site tag and who should be using it. Remember, if you’re already using Google Tag Manager, then you don’t need to change your tags. You only need to migrate if you’re using the analytics .js, or conversion .js tracking tags from Google. And if that’s you, then it’s the perfect time to consider implementing Google Tag Manager for even more benefits.


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