Fortunately there are a few ways you can configure Google Analytics to track file downloads.
1) Use Events to Track Downloads
2) Use a Virtual Pageview to Track Downloads
Each time a visitor clicks a link to download a file, a pageview will be sent to Google Analytics and the downloaded file will appear in the Content reports. For more information, see the “Syntax Comparisons” help article.
The Problem: Direct File Downloads
The above configuration options require a visitor to click a link on your site to download a file. But when a document is directly linked from another site, Google Analytics isn’t able to track the download because the tracking code doesn’t run. This applies to files that are directly linked from a blog, a search engine, an email, or any website.
Here’s an example: go to google.com and search for “form 1040” (or click the following link):
The same thing happens if you click this link:
The IRS website uses Google Analytics, and they won’t be able to track your click because the PDF file is accessed directly.
(someone should tell the IRS about this problem)
Many organizations use 2 web analytics tools to get a complete picture of website activity. In this case, we recommend using Google Analytics in tandem with Angelfish Software. Angelfish shows the true number of downloads (linked and direct), shows the websites that link directly to files on your site, and can upload this data as an event to your Google Analytics account.
Angelfish also provides details that aren’t shown in Google Analytics and is ideal for any internal / external website or web-based application, like SharePoint, Blackboard, Oracle, and more.