How to Track File Downloads in Google Analytics

Almost all school websites have downloadable files such as policies, transport timetables, latest results etc. Unfortunately most school’s have no idea how often these are downloaded and viewed. Wouldn’t you love to know how often people download your prospectus? Where those people came from (Google, Twitter, Emails, Direct)? This is all valuable information.

Google Analytics is a tool that marketers cannot live without but did you know that it can track downloads too? Cue Events.


Google has a bit of code called trackEvent and when this is called it is tracked as an event. Pretty simple. It requires a minimum of two pieces of information: category and action (e.g. PDFs and Download). You can also add an optional label to give a better description (e.g. Policies). 

<a href=“policies.pdf” onClick=“_gaq.push([’_trackEvent’, ‘PDFs’, 'Download’, 'Policies’]);”>Download our Policies PDF</a>

This will create a link to your 'Policies’ PDF and track every time it is clicked by a visitor.


Your school website has an overall purpose - to convert a visitor. A conversion can be spending 5 minutes on your site, viewing 10 pages, arranging a visit, downloading the prospectus and more. Some are easy to track but downloading a prospectus is much harder to measure and many school’s are not aware of how to do this. 

By creating an Event, you can easily add this as a 'Goal’. A 'Goal’ in Analytics is another term for conversion. If you want people to download your prospectus, you should set this up as a 'Goal’ so that you can obtain essential information. 

To do this go to 'Goals’, type the name, put active and select 'Event’. 

The type of information Analytics offer include:

  • What pages did visitors view before downloading?
  • Where did they come from? (Twitter, Google, Facebook, Adverts, Direct etc.)
  • How long were they on the site?
  • How many visits did it take before they converted?
  • What percentage of visitors download the prospectus?

Why is this information so essential?

If your school is investing in online then it is important that you measure your results and tailor your strategies to fit actual behaviour. If you are investing a lot of time and money into online advertising and yet social media is driving the majority of conversions then you need to know this. If not, you will continue to invest in the wrong channels. 

Other Site Interactions to Track

There is much more that can be tracked through Google Analytics using this technique. A simple rule of thumb is to think of anything that can be clicked. If it can be clicked, then we can measure it.

  • Email adresses
  • Links
  • Form submit buttons
  • Videos (play, stop etc.)

Do you already track events? Will you begin to? Let us know in the comments.