National Free Shipping Day is quickly approaching, marking the start of shipping cut-offs on Thursday, December 17th. Using Google Insights for Search, we've found that search volume for 'free shipping' has increased steadily over the last several years and is trending well above last year's levels.

During the 2008 holiday shopping season, searches for "free shipping" peaked on key shopping days and remained consistently high through December 18th. Likewise, in partnership with Compete, Inc., we've found that not only do searches for shipping increase through the shipping deadlines but so do conversion rates. In fact, conversion rates on top retail sites showed significant and steady increases through the shipping cut-off deadlines last year. In fact, Tuesday, December 16, 2008 marked the highest retail conversion rates, exceeding even Black Friday and Cyber Monday during the 2008 holiday season.

So as your shipping cut-offs approach, be sure that you are communicating these important dates to your shoppers and that you are capturing these ready-to-buy consumers through your online marketing efforts.

Source: Google/Compete Daily Search Barometer, 11/2009. Analysis based on top 450 retail sites.