Speed matters a lot. According to Google that is, but how fast does a page need to load to be beneficial to your search engine rankings? When does speed really become a factor in my day to day running of a website?
Maybe its when it starts to impact your rankings. Recently, some webmasters in a thread on WebmasterWorld are wondering about the effect of page load time on their rankings. Some are providing examples of when they add very image heavy ads, its slows down the pages and also slows impressions and traffic to the website. The webmaster is wondering if this is a result of his website pages loading slow because of the ad.
Correlation? I think not, and so do some of the other members. It has more to do with obnoxious ads being placed and the bounce rate increasing dramatically. People don't like annoying ads so they leave. However, that doesn't disqualify page load time as a ranking factor altogether. Tedster also commented on the thread and corrected a users perception of how Google determines you page speed.
Page load time is mostly NOT determined by googlebot - the core data comes from real visits by browsers using the Google toolbar.
As a potential organic ranking factor in 2011, webmasters in general seem to be catching on to the realization that page load time might be influencing more than their bottom-line. Since the 2009 announcement of page load time being a factor, on-page ranking factors have grown more in importance. I have seen this in my own work, and it's been discussed quite a bit at popular conferences. Popular consensus of this on-page factor suggests that page load time may very slightly (if at all) help rankings when increasing the speed of a page dramatically. Often times this means taking a very slow page and increasing it from say 8-10 to 2 seconds. Or if your website is so slow it reminds you of the day when you used a dial up internet connection. Secondly from an SEO perspective, page speed is also about increasing conversions, not necessarily rankings. Page speed can have positive correlations for many things. So for 2011, it is worth looking into.
Continued discussion at WebmasterWorld