Google Tag Assistant For Efficient Work

If you’ve ever used Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Google Tag Manager, or any other Google’s analytics/marketing tools, chances are that you’ve at least heard of Google Tag Assistant, or, most probably, even used it. That’s no surprise because Tag assistant a really handy debugging tool for efficient work.

What is Google Tag Assistant?

Google Tag Assistant is a Chrome Extension that helps to validate the tracking code on website. And troubleshoot common problems and makes the entire process much easier and faster.

Tag Assistant enables us to record a typical user flow, it keeps track of all the hits send, checks them for any problems, and gives a full report of interactions. In case of any issues or potential improvements, it will let us know about them.

After we’ve installed the extension, a blue tag icon will appear in the top right corner. Now let’s see how Tag assistant can be used for efficient work in day to day practice.

1. How Does Google Tag Assistant Work?

By default, Tag Assistant is in the “sleep mode”, meaning that it does not check anything that’s happening on a page. In order to activate it, click the blue tag icon and then Enable.

Now refresh the page, if any Google’s products are implemented on that page. We’ll start seeing a particular number within that blue tag icon which represent the count of tags found.

Click the blue icon again to see a detailed list of all found tags.

2. Google Tag Assistant Colors

Tag Assistant’s icon works like a litmus, its color changes according to the context. When Google Tag Assistant is enabled and the page is refreshed, the color of its icon can change to one of the following 4 options:

  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Blue
  • Green.

Red color means that at least one Google Tag (let’s say, Google Analytics) has a major issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Click the red icon to find out more, what is the issue and how to fix it.

Yellow color means that at least one Google Tag has a minor issue and the issue should be addressed, otherwise we might face some tracking discrepancies.

Blue icon means that some non-standard implementation is found. While usually, such issues are not as serious as major (red) or minor (yellow) problems. We still might want to take a look at our implementation.

Green is the color we should be looking for, it means that all tags highlighted with green color are working perfectly.

Click the tag to see more details about it.

3. Session Recordings

Another great, yet often underused feature is session recordings. Recording a flow produces a report of all hits that were sent via marketing tags. This lets us validate that a particular tracking tag on site works as expected.

For example, if we have an e-commerce site, we could run through the pages and steps required to select an item, place the order, and submit payment. After the recording is complete, we can review all events/page views/etc. that were passed through and see what particular data was sent, what errors occurred, where they happened, etc.

To start recording a flow, click the Tag Assistant icon and then RECORD button.

The actual recording will start after refreshing the page. During the entire session, a red dot will be attached to the blue tag icon. To stop recording, click the icon, the red STOP RECORDING button and the summary of the session will be displayed.

Click Show Full Report.

Google Tag Assistant For Efficient Work

4. Tag Assistant Report

A full report will give more insights on what happened during that recording session. Two types of reports are at our service:

  1. Tag Assistant Report.
  2. And Google Analytics Report.

The Tag Assistant report shows all the tags that fired on all the pages visited during the recording session. The controls in the left-hand panel let us do the following:

  • Filter tags
  • Switch between detailed and basic views
  • Show/hide ignored requests.

The main body of the page contains a Recording summary (of what happened during the session) and recorded pages. Click every page to expand its details and tags that were fired. Keep in mind that these tags are listed alphabetically (and not in their sequence).

5. Google Analytics Report

This report will show an emulation of how Google Analytics will process the hits. The tab will recognize the account ID for this site and will allow to see the full report (if have access to that account).

6. Replaces GA Debugger Extension

One of the must-have Chrome extensions for a web analyst is GA Debugger. It’s a very useful plugin which reads all the requests that are sent from your website to Google’s servers and prints them in browser’s console in a readable format.

7. Favorite domains

Up until this moment, you’ve learned that if you want to enable the Tag Assistant, you need to click the Enable button and then refresh the page.

But if there are pages that you are constantly checking with the extension, you can save some time by adding that domain to the list of favorites. What a little nifty feature!

There are two ways you can do that:

  1. By clicking the Star icon in the plugin while being on the page you wish to add.
  2. By going to Google Tag Assistant’s settings and adding them one per line.

8. Helps to troubleshoot Cross-domain Tracking Issues with ease

Session recordings reports (in particular, Google Analytics report) help you really easily identify reasons why your Cross-domain tracking implementation might not be working properly.

9. List of all checks

If you’re interested in all possible checks that Tag Assistant does, you can find them here. Also, there’s an additional list right in the plugin. Go to Google Tag Assistant’s plugin settings, in the top right corner, click the button List Checks, and you’ll see a huge list of all possible checks that can be filtered. Also, each one of them contains a link to a relevant resource/reference.

10. Other little handy features

By default, when you enable Google Tag Assistant, you do it only on that particular browser tab. If you also wish to record the session while switching between multiple tabs (because some links might open a new tab), you can do that by clicking a checkbox right after pressing the Record button.

For your convenience, you can automatically open all recording sessions after they have been completed. In order to do that, go to extension’s settings and tick the checkbox Auto open recordings report when recording is stopped.

I hope you found Tag assistant a really handy debugging tool for efficient work with this blog and will use it more frequently  from now.

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