February 22, 2023

What is Server-Side GTM?

The server-side Google Tag Manager (SGTM) allows marketers and developers to manage their tracking and analytics scripts on the server. Tags are loaded on the server before the page is sent to the browser instead of on the client. This can lead to faster page load times, more accurate tracking, and improved data privacy.

What is the difference between GTM and SGTM?

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a popular tool that allows marketers to add and manage tracking tags on their website without the need for developer intervention. GTM is a client-side implementation, which means that tags are loaded after the page has loaded on the user’s browser. This can lead to slower page load times and less accurate tracking data. In server-side GTM, tracking tags are loaded on the server before the page is sent to the user’s browser. Tracking tags are executed before any other code on the page, improving page load times. It is possible to improve data accuracy and reduce data leakage by loading your tags on the server.

Benefits of Server-Side GTM

There are many benefits to using server-side GTM, including:

  1. Improved page load times: By loading your tracking tags on the server-side, you can improve page load times and reduce the amount of time it takes for your website to become interactive.

  2. More accurate tracking: With server-side tracking tags, you can ensure that your tracking data is accurate and reliable. This is because your tracking tags will always execute, even if the user’s browser has disabled JavaScript.

  3. Better data privacy: By loading your tags on the server-side, you can reduce the amount of data that is sent to third-party services. This can help you comply with data privacy regulations and protect your users‘ data.

  4. Increased flexibility: Server-side GTM allows you to implement more sophisticated tracking setups that may not be possible with traditional GTM. For example, you can use server-side GTM to implement cross-domain tracking, which can be challenging to do with traditional GTM.

How to Set Up Server-Side GTM

Set up server-side GTM by creating a server container and configuring your website to send tracking data to it. The exact setup process will depend on your specific implementation, but here are the basic steps:

  1. Create a server container: You will need to create a server container in the Google Tag Manager interface. This container will be used to store your tracking tags and execute them on the server-side.

  2. Set up a data layer: You will need to set up a data layer on your website that sends tracking data to your server container. This data layer will contain information about the user’s actions on your website that you want to track.

  3. Configure your website to send data to the server container: You will need to configure your website to send tracking data to your server container. This may involve modifying your website’s backend code or using a plugin to integrate with your CMS.

  4. Test and debug: Once you have set up your server-side GTM implementation, you will need to test and debug your tracking setup to ensure that it is working correctly.

Conclusion

Server-side GTM is a powerful tool that allows you to improve page load times, increase tracking accuracy, and protect your users‘ data. By executing your tracking tags on the server-side, you can implement more sophisticated tracking setups and ensure that your data is accurate and reliable. While the setup process can be complex, the benefits of server-side GTM make it a worthwhile investment for any website.

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