Could your return policy affect your click through rate?

This posting is primarily focused on businesses and e-commerce sites who advertise their products. There has been a recent change to Google’s displayed product search results and concerns the featured snippets which are shown. You may be surprised to learn that your actual return policy could affect the amount of traffic and click through rate you experience. Read on to find out more from our latest article and whether this is likely to affect you.

What are featured snippets?

Very briefly and to refresh everyone’s memory, featured snippets are those very small panes of information that show a website and a few lines of description. They are designed to be a small, targeted advert, hence the name.

Featured snippet example

What is now happening?

When it comes to companies selling products, as part of this featured snippet information can now see the return’s policy of the company. Some businesses have narrow windows of return if the customer is not happy with the product (e.g. 7 days,) whilst others have longer (typically up to 30 days.) These will now be displayed underneath the product and the description being advertised.

It will not apply for all products and is currently being treated as an experiment to see how popular it is, and whether there are any complications or implications of displaying such data. It is thought that Google plan to track and correlate all this data through their analytical platforms to determine whether this experiment has worked, needs to be tweaked, or could be assigned for wider and permanent roll out.

If I am a business, why should I take note?

This is perhaps the point you really do need to read!

If you are a business selling a fairly niche product without much competition, you are probably not likely to see much in the way of change as the potential avenues for customers to buy your products is low anyway. This is irrespective of whether your time limit return policy is displayed or not. If however you sell a popular product which many other of your competitors do, you could start to notice a change.


On the one hand, if you display a return time limit and your competitor does not, this could help drive more clicks to your website, because people like the idea of certainty and showing a return time compliments this. On the other hand, if your returns policy is short and your competitor has a more generous time period, you could actually find your traffic dips and your click through rate lowers, as people presumably would favour a longer time to return items, and are more likely to click the competitor’s site rather than yours. This is something that we definitely advise anyone to track who think they may be affected and it could also be a good time to review your returns time limit.

Why is this being done?

Google have not said much beyond that it is an experiment in an attempt to see whether the shopping experience can be made even better for users. What perhaps that fails to address is that it could actually be detrimental to business, though in an open free market where everyone has a choice, there is always room to argue against that too!

Are you a (small) business looking for PPC? Our PPC management section is a great place to find out how and why you need our services.