How To Track File Downloads On WordPress Site?

Being able to track file downloads and what visitors are downloading from your WordPress site is useful. This can help you monitor which ebooks, files, or PDFs from your site are most downloaded.

You can check if there is anything on your site that has never been downloaded. Setting up download tracking can help you think about the type of content that you want to create in the future to engage your audience.

You probably already use Google Analytics to monitor where your traffic is coming from and other statistics. However, Google Analytics has no option for tracking downloads of specific files.

MonsterInsights plugin is considered to be one of the best solutions for tracking all analytics on a WordPress site. It also allows you to easily keep track of which files have been downloaded from your site.

Other than tracking file downloads, you can use MonsterInsights to check if visitors are actually reading your posts and where they lose interest, which keywords are driving traffic to your site, check GoogleAnalytics without leaving WordPress site dashboard, track WooCommerce sales, set up author tracking, etc.


Why Should You Track File Downloads?

If you are offering files on your site that customers can download, it is important to know whether they are actually being downloaded. Tracking downloads is something that can’t be done easily when using Google Analytics because the files are unable to request the pixel that is needed for tracking. Therefore it will always look as if nothing has been downloaded, even when it has.

Some of the biggest advantages of tracking downloads include:

  • You can see which of your files are the most popular
  • You can decide which content you should create more of and which you should stay away from
  • You will not be wasting time producing downloads that no one is going to use


How To Track File Downloads in WordPress?

The MonsterInsights plugin can be used to enable download tracking without having to change any lines of code. Even though Google Analytics cant be used directly to track downloads, you still need to have an account.

You need to set up Google Analytics for your WordPress site using the MonsterInsights plugin. Once this is set up correctly, then your downloads will start to be tracked immediately.

The details of any files that have been downloaded will be tracked as events. Events tracking in MonsterInsights can be used to track the number of things other than files such as ad clicks and the number of times videos have been played.

MonsterInsights comes with default extensions that you can track downloads for. These are doc, exe, js, pdf, ppt, tgz, zip, and xls.


adding extensions or files to track as downloads wordpress


If you want to track a file with a different extension, then you will need to add it in the Extensions of files to track as downloads field, which can be found in MonsterInsights Settings > Engagement. If you are adding more than one extension, they will need to be separated by a comma.


How To View File Downloads in WordPress Dashboard?

If you want to view the files that have been downloaded from your site using the WordPress dashboard, then you will need to have access to at least the Plus level of MonsterInsights.

From the plugin, you will need to go to Insights, then select Report and then Publishers. You can then scroll down to see the files that have been downloaded.


track file downloads from wordpress dashboard


You will see these downloaded files as events as this is the default setting that will be enabled when you set up MonsterInsights and connect it to your Google Analytics account.

There was a setting that allowed you to change the tracking from events to page views, but I don’t see it anymore in settings of MonsterInsights plugin. However, it is recommended that downloads are tracked as events, as this makes the whole process much smoother. The traffic statistics for your website may be affected if you track your downloads as pageviews.


How To View File Downloads in Google Analytics?

The first step in viewing your file downloads is to log in to your Google Analytics account and select the website that you want to view the downloads for.

If your downloads are being tracked as pageviews, then you will need to go to the All Pages report. This can be found by going to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

If you’ve enabled downloads tracking as events, the data will be available in the event’s report. Go to Behavior > Events. This will give you four different options:

  • Overview – This gives you a summary of the top events on your site, which will include your file downloads.
  • Top Events – You will be shown a list of all the events that your visitors have engaged with the most.
  • Pages – The pages that your files are downloaded from will be listed here, as well as the posts that people have been reading.
  • Events Flow – This will show you the journeys that people make when they are on your site and how they navigate between the different events on your website.

To get a detailed report, you can click on Top Events and then Downloads to get a detailed report. From here, you will be able to see which events have been categorized as downloads.


View File Downloads in Google Analytics


When you are reading the report, there are three key components that you need to be aware of:

  • Event Category – This is the category that the event falls into, which in this case will be downloads.
  • Event Action – This will provide the URL of the page that the file was downloaded from.
  • Event Label – This will show you the label for the href attribute.


Tracking WordPress Website File Downloads Conclusion

Although Google Analytics is one of the best tools available for tracking the traffic on your website, the file downloads, such as PDFs, MP3s, Word documents, or videos that people download from your site will not be tracked automatically due to its reliance on JavaScript.

This means that if you only use Google Analytics without any other plugin, you are not able to monitor which of your downloads are the most popular with visitors.

If you are trying to build your email list, then you can give visitors a choice of free download to encourage them to subscribe. Being able to track which downloads are the most popular allows you to improve on the content that you offer to your visitors.

DISCLOSURE: Posts may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links, I might get a small commission, without any extra cost to you. Read more about it here.

1 thought on “How To Track File Downloads On WordPress Site?”

  1. Hello, just mentioning that the practices mentioned in this blog post to check pdf downloads in Monsterinsights, is now only available in the PRO version.


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