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Tracking Visitor Downloads with Google Analytics


You’re probably curious to know what content your visitors are downloading the most on your website. I bet you’re also interested in knowing this data for multiple reasons including gauging interest, popularity of each downloadable file, and to learn what the best page and the best page position for the links to each download are. Of course there are a multitude of reasons for your interest, but no matter the reason, it all boils down to wanting to learn more about how your website visitors interact with your downloadable files.


Example: Tracking PDF Media Kit Downloads
You just completed your PDF media kit for potential advertisers to download and you can’t wait to start getting all that advertiser revenue.  You put the media kit online and three weeks later you can’t believe it – what’s happening? Three weeks and you have no phone calls or emails of interest. Is it the media kit itself, the information presented in it, or maybe no one has downloaded it yet? You’re confused because you know that people are visiting the page that the link to the media kit is on, it’s your most popular page. If only you were tracking the number of downloads of the media kit could you narrow down what just might be wrong.


 Or maybe you would like to:

  • Track your MP3 or Wav Podcast downloads across your web site
  • Track to learn what your most popular .doc, or excel .xls file, or .zip file is
  • Track your Catalog downloads
  • Track clicks of links to external sites


Since your links are directly linked to a file and there is no actual page to put analytics tracking code on, you have to track it differently than you would a webpage itself. Luckily, most analytic software packages offer simple ways to get to track and extract this data.


With Google Analytics, it’s as simple as adding some additional JavaScript code to the link that goes to the downloadable file:

For example, if the link to your Media Kit was:
 < a href=”http://www.example.com/mediakit.pdf”>

You would add the trackPageview() JavaScript code to it as follows:
< a href=http://www.example.com/mediakit.pdf  onClick=”javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview(‘/downloads/mediakit’); “>

You could change /downloads/mediakit to whatever directory names that you would like, but clicks to your Media Kit would be found in your Google Analytics website profile in the Content Section under /downloads/mediakit in this example, or whatever directories you place in the code – each link that you want to track, if you want to track each downloadable file individually (which you would), you would name uniquely such as /mediakit1, /mediakit2, and so on.


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