How does Silktide detect downloads?
Silktide automatically detects the majority of downloads automatically. Most analytics solutions require some configuration, but we automatically do this by default.
However there is no perfect way to guarantee downloads are recorded, so it is worth understanding our approach, and how you might extend it if necessary for your website.
In fact the only way to record those visits directly is by being the web server itself, and most web servers don’t have their own mechanism to record this (or a mechanism to present this data if they do).
This doesn’t prevent Silktide from counting downloads, but it does force us to use another approach which is not guaranteed to be as accurate.
What Silktide Analytics does to measure downloads
Silktide detects when a user clicks on a link that points to a downloadable file, e.g. a PDF document.
Specifically, Silktide looks at the URL of every link that a user clicks on, and checks if that URL has a known file extension such as
.xlsx and so on (the precise list of file extensions can be found and configured, under Settings > Advanced).
If a known file extension is found, Silktide records a download of that link.
Limitations of this approach
Silktide is recording when someone clicks on a link to download a file, not recording the file itself being loaded (because the latter is impossible).
Because of this, it is possible to miss some downloads:
- Users may click on a link once, and view the file multiple times
- Users may visit a file from an external source, e.g. a link in an email, or from another website
- Users may visit a file from a search engine, like Google
- Users may visit files which don’t use a file extension
In the case of #4, if your downloads don’t use a predictable file-extension, you should consider using our API to record your own download events.