Complete Guide to Google Tag Assistant

Google diagnostic is a feature of Google Analytics which makes regular evaluation of your analytics property in order to identify implementation issues and configuration anomalies via alerts/notifications in a GA view:

google diagnostics notifications

But the biggest limitation of Google diagnostic is that, it reports implementation issues on the data which you have already collected (in large quantity) and it can’t tell you whether a issue has been fixed or not, until it can re-crawl web pages and collect more data.

If you want to diagnose implementation issues as soon you have implemented tags and minimize collecting corrupted data, then you need to use Google Tag Assistant.

Other limitation of Google diagnostic is that, it can’t report implementation issues on the web pages which are hidden behind Google login or blocked by robots.txt. On the other hand, Google Tag Assistant can report implementation issues on such pages.

 

Introduction to Google Tag Assistant

Google Tag Assistant is a chrome extension which is used to identify,validate and troubleshoot the installation of various Google Tags on a web page.

These Google Tags can be:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tag Manager
  • Adwords Conversion Tracking
  • Remarketing
  • Floodlight etc

Following are the various functions of Google Tag Assistant:

#1 Display the list of various Google Tags installed on a web page

#2 Report on implementation errors.

#3 Suggest fixes by providing useful tips and link to help articles.

#4 Record user flow across webpages/websites to identify implementation and configuration issues. 

 

Using Google Tag Assistant like a Pro

Step-1: Open Google Chrome browser and then Install Google tag assistant extension from here.

Step-2: Install Google Analytics debugger from here.

GA Debugger is used to load the debug version of Google Analytics (analytics_debug.js) which is used to troubleshoot Google Analytics installation.  It provides detailed breakdown of each GIF request sent to Google Analytics.

Step-3: Make sure that you are not using any add-on/extension which disable Google Analytics in your browser.

For example I use ‘Google Analytics Opt out Add on’ to filter out internal traffic. So I need to disable it (via chrome extension page) before I can use tag assistant:

chrome extension

If you are using any such extension then turn it off. Otherwise when you used the tag assistant, you will get following notification “No Google Analytics HTTP responses because opted out code detected‘:

opted out code detected

Sometimes firewall settings can disable Google Analytics. Make sure that your settings allow Google Analytics tracking code to execute.

Otherwise GA debugger and Google Tag Assistant won’t work correctly and/or produce false positive results (positive results which are more likely to be false than true).

Note: Google Tag Assistant works only on those pages which have got at least one of the Google tags. So if you try to use this tool on a page with no Google tag, you won’t see any result and may be asked to add Google Analytics to your website:

no tags found

 

Step-4: Switch on the Google Analytics debugger by clicking on its icon on the top right hand side of your browser address bar:

turn on ga debugger

Note: hover your mouse over the GA debugger button to see the ‘GA Debug: ON’ yellow notification. This is because many times the GA debugger looks like (from its ‘ON’ icon in the address bar), it is enabled but in reality it is not.

 

Step-5: Look for the Google Tag Assistant icon on the top right hand side next to the browser address bar. It is either going to be red, yellow, blue or green:

Google Tag Assistant icon

Red icon means, tag assistant has found some or all Google tags with major implementation issues.

The number on the icon shows the total number of Google tags identified by Google Tag Assistant on a web page.  

For example the red icon has got number 6 on it. It means there are 6 Google tags identified by tag assistant. However this number does not automatically imply that all 6 Google tags have got major implementation issues.

Yellow icon means, tag assistant has found some or all Google tags with minor implementation issues.

Blue icon means, tag assistant has found Google tags, which have no major or minor implementation issues but which are still not perfectly valid tags because of some non-standard GA implementation. 

Green icon means, tag assistant has found all of the identified Google Tags to be perfectly valid.

 

Step-6: Right click on the tag assistant icon and then select ‘Options:

tag assistant options

Step-7: Change the ‘Level of Details’ for all Google tags to ‘Detailed Information’:

detailed information

Make sure that the ‘Default Level’ is also set to ‘Detailed Information’.

Note(1): If you do not want ‘tag assistant’ to check for a specific Google tag, you can turn that tag ‘off’.

For example, if you don’t want tag assistant to check for ‘Floodlight’ tag during a page load, you can turn it off by selecting ‘Off’ from the ‘Floodlight’ drop down menu:

floodlight off

On the contrary, if you don’t find a particular tag being checked and reported by tag assistant then make sure that it has not been turned off in the tag assistant ‘options’ settings.

Note(2): Every time you change one of the ‘options’ settings, you need to reload the page whose Google tags you want to validate via tag assistant.

Note(3): You can also access tag assistant ‘options’ setting from within the tag assistant box:

options button

Step-8: Within the tag assistant options, make sure that the ‘Recording: Follow Links Across Tabs’ checkbox is checked:

recording follow links

If this checkbox is not selected then later when you use Google Tag Assistant recording, any page which open up in a new tab or window will not be recorded.

Step-9: Click on the Google Tag Assistant icon again and then click on the ‘Menu’ button:

tag assistant menu button

Make sure that ‘Auto Validation’ and ‘GA Debug’ settings are turned ON.

When the ‘Auto Validation’ setting is turned off, the Tag Assistant do not automatically analyze the Google tags of a web page. When the ‘GA Debug’ setting is turned off, the tag assistant do not pull information from the GA debugger which is required to get detailed data. 

Step-10: Now load that web page into your browser window whose Google tags you want to identify, validate or troubleshoot.

Step-11: Click on the Google Tag Assistant icon again and then click on ‘Menu’ button > ‘Show in separate tab’:

show in seperate tab

The ‘Show in separate tab’ menu item will open the Google Tag Assistant in a separate browser tab. This is required.

Otherwise every time you navigate to a different browser tab or reload the web page, the Google Tag Assistant box will automatically hide, which will become annoying really fast.

 

Understanding Google Tag Assistant Results

Once you open tag assistant in a separate browser tab, you will see the result of tag analysis:

result of tag analysis

From the result above, we can conclude that:

#1 Total 12 Google tags are identified on the page.

#2 One tag has got error (major implementation issue).

#3 The list of tags which are visible in tag assistant box are: Remarketing Tag, Floodlight, Google Analytics and other Google Analytics.

#4 Since the Google Analytics tag is displayed twice and both tags have got different property ID, it means, the web page is using two different trackers.

#5 The ‘Where to optimize’ section shows general notifications or errors which do not necessarily relate to a specific tag but which require your attention.

where to optimize

However when you click on a particular tag within the tag assistant box, the ‘Where to optimize’ section provides more specific notification/fix:

where to optimize2

#6 The red, yellow, blue and green icons next to identified tags, have all got special meaning:

google tag assistant icons

Click on one of the tags:

click on tag

You can now see the meta data, code snippet and where to optimize information for the selected tag:

tag details

The Metadata contains:

  • Web Property ID
  • Google Tag Manager Container ID
  • Code Version/Syntax

The ‘Where to Optimize’ section includes notifications and links to help articles related to the selected tag.

For example, if you hover your mouse over say ‘No HTTP response detected‘ notification, you will see additional notification + the ‘? ‘ button:

help button

Click on the ‘?’ button will redirect you to one of the Google help articles related to the ‘No HTTP response detected’ issue. Through this help article, you can troubleshoot this problem.

You also need to pay attention to the colour of the notifications under ‘Where to Optimize’.

The notification ‘No HTTP response detected’ is in red color which means it is a major implementation issue and need to be fixed ASAP.

The notification ‘Code found outside of <head> tag’ is in blue color which means it is neither a major nor a minor implementation issue but is still not perfectly valid because of non-standard implementation. You can choose to ignore this issue.

The ‘Code Snippet’ section provides the actual code you can look at for troubleshooting:

code snippet

Click on the ‘View Source’ link if you want to see the code in a different tab along with other website code.

Depending upon the tag you are analysing, you are going to see different type of data for different tags. For example, if you click on a Google Tag Manager tag’ then you can see the data layer being used on a web page:

gtm tag

data layer

Through Google Tag Assistant, you can also analyse individual hits. To do that, click on a tag, scroll to the bottom and then look for links related to request/hit:

hit details

The ‘Pageview Request’ link is the pageview hit. Click on this link to see more details (Metadata and GIF request) about this hit:

pageview hit

If you click on the ‘URLs’ link, you can see the GIF request sent to the GA server:

urls click gif request

However this GIF request is hard to read. So click on the ‘table’ button to see the GIF request in tabular format:

gif request2

Checkout this short video to learn a bit more about the tag assistant features:

To learn about the recording feature of Google Tag Assistant, read this article: Guide to Google Tag Assistant Recordings

Other Articles you will find useful:

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Himanshu Sharma

Certified web analyst and founder of OptimizeSmart.com

My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses find and fix their Google Analytics and conversion issues. If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

  • Over eleven years' experience in SEO, PPC and web analytics
  • Google Analytics certified
  • Google AdWords certified
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Award for Excellence
  • Bachelors degree in Internet Science
  • Founder of OptimizeSmart.com and EventEducation.com

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