how to track file downloads

How to Track File Downloads in Google Analytics (The Easy Way)

Want to track how many times visitors download your ebook or any other files on your website?

MonsterInsights lets you accurately track your file downloads with Google Analytics.

In this post, we’ll show you how to track file downloads in Google Analytics. By the end of the guide, you’ll know which type of content your users like so that you can increase the number of downloads.

Start Tracking File Downloads Today!

MonsterInsights is the best WordPress Analytics plugin. Get it for free!

Table of Contents – File Download Tracking

We’ve divided the article into different sections, so you can jump ahead and read the section you’re interested in:

Why Should You Track File Downloads?

If you’re offering downloadable resources to your visitors, you’ll need to know if they’re actually downloading them.

Out of the box, Google Analytics doesn’t support file downloads tracking automatically. That’s because files can’t request a tracking pixel, which is a short code snippet needed to track users’ behavior.

As a result, nothing is recorded in Google Analytics, and downloads aren’t tracked.

But with MonsterInsights, you can easily enable file downloads tracking in Google Analytics without having to touch a single line of code.

A few benefits of file downloads tracking are:

  • Discover how popular your downloadable resources are
  • Find out which content type you should offer more and which one is a waste of your time
  • Save your time and money by only producing the downloads your audience actually wants

Now let’s take a look at how you can start to track file downloads on your WordPress website.

How to Track File Downloads on Your Website

The easiest way of tracking file downloads in Google Analytics is by using a WordPress plugin. MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics WordPress plugin, and it makes it very easy to see which files people like to download the most.

Video Tutorial

You can also go through the written tutorial if you don’t watch the video. Just follow these steps to start:

Step 1: Install and Activate MonsterInsights

First, you need to download and install MonsterInsights on your WordPress website. You can find the setup file in your account area under the Downloads tab.

download monsterinsights

Next, you’ll have to upload the plugin to your WordPress website. To do that, go to your WordPress admin area and navigate to Plugins » Add New » Upload Plugin.

After that, choose the MonsterInsights file you just downloaded and click the Install Now button.

upload plugin in wordpress

Now activate MonsterInsights by clicking the Activate Plugin button.

activate monsterinsights

Step 2: Sign Up for Google Analytics & Connect it to MonsterInsights

Next, you will have to connect Google Analytics to your WordPress website using MonsterInsights.

Before you do that, you’ll need to sign up for a Google Analytics account.

After creating an analytics account, you can use MonsterInsights to add the tracking code to your website. The plugin makes it super easy to set up Google Analytics, and you don’t have to touch a single line of code.

Allow MonsterInsights to Access Your Google Analytics Data

For more details, refer to our guide on how to set up Google Analytics in WordPress using MonsterInsights.

After the setup, MonsterInsights will enable file download tracking automatically, and they will be tracked as events. But the good part is that you don’t have to do any further configuration, as MonsterInsights will take care of it.

Step 3: Add More File Extensions to Track as Downloads

Next, you can select the file extensions you want to track in MonsterInsights.

By default, MonsterInsights lets you track downloads of the following file extensions: doc, pdf, ppt, zip, xls, docx, pptx, and xlsx. But you can add more extensions that you want to track.

To add file extensions in MonsterInsights, go to Insights and then click Settings. Then select Engagement from the top menu and scroll down to File Downloads.

monserinsights-file-tracking

Here you can see the default extensions of files that the plugin will track. Add more extensions that you want to track on your website (separated by commas).

Step 4: View File Downloads in WordPress

Now that your tracking is set up, you can view file download reports in WordPress.

To see the report, navigate to Insights » Report » Publishers Report and scroll down to see the Top Download Links.

file download report monsterinsights

The report will then show you the top download links on your site. You can then use the data to create similar content that gets you the most downloads.

It also helps you plug gaps in your content to create or repurpose the type of content.

How to View File Downloads in Google Analytics

To view file downloads, log in to your Google Analytics account and select the website where you’d like to track file downloads.

select property or website

If you’ve enabled downloads tracking as pageviews, you can find out the downloads report in the All Pages report along with other blog posts and pages.

File Downloads report can access this report by navigating to Behaviour » Site Content » All Pages.

If you’ve enabled downloads tracking as events, you can see the download data in your events report.

In your event reports, navigate to Behavior » Events in the left panel. You’ll now see four different options.

  • Overview: It gives you a summary of top events data of your site
  • Top Events: It shows you a list of events that keep your visitors engaged on your site
  • Pages: It shows you a list of pages in which your downloadable resource is hosted. In other words, it is a list of posts and pages where the events occur on your site.
  • Events Flow: The events flow report helps you discover which events keep your visitors engaged with your site. It also visualizes the path users take from one popular event to another.

To get a detailed report, click on Top Events.

download-tracking-in-google-analytics

Then, click downloads to get a detailed report.

downloads tracking in events report

The Anatomy of File Downloads Tracking With MonsterInsights

In your events report, you can see that all file downloads are being categorized as a download.

For example, take a look at the file downloads tracking report in Google Analytics below.

event category download

It is a screenshot of real-time Analytics stats, so you can figure out how downloads data are being shown in Google Analytics.

There are several important components in every event report, whether it be downloads, ad clicks, video play, or any other. They are:

  • Event Category: As mentioned, every file download is categorized as downloads.
  • Event Action: It is the full URL of the file you’d like to track. For example:
<a href="http://example.com/my-ebook.pdf”>Download My Ebook</a>

Here, the event action is: http://example.com/my-ebook.pdf

  • Event Label: It is the label of a href attribute. In the above example, the event label is Download My Ebook.

Start Tracking File Downloads Today!

That’s it!

We hope that you liked our guide on how to track file downloads in Google Analytics. If you want, you can also check out our article on how to track links and button clicks in Google Analytics.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more Google Analytics tutorials.

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