Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager Debugging Tools/
March 7, 2016
Stuck on a problem in GA or GTM? Don’t rage quit on your Google Tag Manager/Google Analytics implementation!
Believe me, I know there are a lot of moving parts and processes of which to keep track, but don’t give up. At LunaMetrics, there are many different tools we use to help make our jobs easier. Because much of GA/GTM happens within the web browser, we utilize a variety of built-in tools and Google Chrome Extensions. These tools enhance visibility into the mechanics of the inner workings of GA/GTM and help with the configuring and debugging as well as previewing.
So let’s peer behind the curtain and take a look…
You’ll find the Console as part of the Web Developer Tools, listed in the Chrome menu under More Tools. On a Windows computer, you can also use the shortcuts:
CTRL + SHIFT + J. For a Mac, use
CMD + OPT + J.
Google Tag Manager Preview Mode
Prior to publishing your tags in GTM, enabling Preview Mode gives you access to the mechanics of your tags, triggers, and variables. Only you can see Preview Mode, as it only is enabled based on a special cookie set within your browser. The left pane shows you the events through the page loading process and the right pane shows you how the tags, variables and dataLayer were affected through each step. This is a great tool for confirming your configuration.
Google Analytics Debugger
While it is true that you can access GA’s debug mode without any extension, Google’s own debugger extension makes this a simple, painless process. Once enabled, it decodes all of the hits send to GA and prints them to the console. This is a great tool for checking for broken sessions and verifying custom dimensions!
Not working for you? No joke – try turning it off and back on by clicking on the extension icon while you have the console open.
Google Tag Assistant
The Tag Assistant Chrome extension is a very useful tool in testing and debugging your implementation. It does almost everything you would expect. First it displays and troubleshoots the status of most Google-related tags – be it Analytics, AdWords, DoubleClick or Tag Manager. Within the tool, you can even enable GA debug mode.
One of the most powerful features within the tool is Tag Assistant recordings. This allows you to “record” a browsing session and produce a report on all of the hits being sent through and even how they will potentially show up within Google Analytics. Tag Assistant has been known to be buggy at times, but things have seemed to have stabilized in recent months.
Tag Manager Injector
Similar to Injector, Tag Manager Injector simplifies the process of inserting GTM code on a site on the fly where no code currently exists. This is useful should you want to quickly test GTM without altering the code on the site. You can even push variables to the dataLayer for test other aspects of your implementation.
Code Editor for GTM
While GTM has improved its code syntax highlighting since its inception, many still favor the styling of this Code Editor Chrome extension. While not necessarily a debugging tool, making code within GTM easier to read certainly aids the overall process.
EditThisCookie has quickly proven itself to be an indispensable tool around the LunaMetrics Office. With it you can view cookies set by Google Analytics, delete cookies, modify cookies and even add additional cookies. This is a great too for verifying GA trackers and any other custom cookies that may be in use.
Working with subdomains or cross-domain tracking? This tool is a must have!
Just Scratching the Surface
These are some of the main debugging tools we use right now. While this list is purely a snapshot in time, newer tools will likely be discovered and find their way into our use. As they do, we will be sure to let you know what tools make our debugging lives easier.