Google Analytics Tracking of Downloads DOES NOT WORK RELIABLY

About a month ago I switched to using Google Analytics. I was previously using Urchin for web analytics, and had accepted that it simply didn’t work for tracking goals, etc.(I reported this to Urchin and they refused to acknowledge it). When I switched to Google Analytics, I setup goals for tracking downloads of my Network and System Monitoring Software. This seemed to work, and replaced my weblog analysis that counted the downloads for conversion tracking.

This past Friday, I launched my Employee Scheduling Software and setup goal/download tracking the same exact way. I downloaded it a few times, and it never showed up in Google Analytics as a conversion– or as content. I analyzed what could be wrong, and found that everything was setup perfectly.

So, being a software developer, I loaded my download page up in Chrome and turned on the Javascript console. I found that when clicking the download links, it would come up with an “undefined” error, yet still allow the download to take place. With some experimentation, I found that the tracking code always fails when linking to a binary/downloadable file, but works for linking to pages… Of course, that doesn’t work for me, as I need to track downloading of files… I couldn’t find any solutions online, and I tried multiple different ways to track the downloads with GA… It appears to be browser specific(with Chrome), which is why the problem was masked with Overseer downloads… But this ┬ájust makes it clear to me that I can’t trust Google’s numbers…

So, it looks like I’ll be switching back to tracking downloads from my logs… The plus side of this, is I can go back historically and won’t be limited by GA’s lack of data, lack of Javascript support on some browsers, etc… The problem is I won’t be able to see ‘goals’ inside GA’s interface… I suppose there’s worse things.