Why Should You Care How Fast Your Site Loads?
Independent (not by Google) tests have shown that more than 4 seconds of load time on web page is a problem for your website visitors. Google’s own tests show that shaving even 0.4 second off their load time increases user engagement.
We have worked with pages from major enterprises that have horrendous load. They often have bounce rates in the 70% to 90% area. The first “layer” of improvement is usually not hard to achieve and I have seen going from 10 seconds to 5 seconds drop the bounce rate down from 85% to 45%, with an incredible lift in conversions(in that case, lead generation).
Getting below 4 seconds in page load time is the holy grail. As a direct SEO factor, load time is important. But it’s indirect effect may be huge, especially with user engagement and site conversions.
Google web performance best practices. http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/docs/rules_intro.html
Strategies to speed up pages. http://www.quickonlinetips.com/archives/2012/02/increase-site-speed/
This is a handy tool for speed testing page load times in Google Chrome. http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/docs/using_chrome.html#Installing