If you've worked with us on a web development or SEO project, then you've undoubtedly heard us preach the benefits of code optimization. Not only does lightweight, well-optimized code reduce development, troubleshooting and on-going maintenance costs, but front-end code optimization can improve user experience as well by, among other things, reducing page load times.
There has been buzz for the past few months that Google may give developers another benefit to optimizing code for fast page loading - search engine rankings.
According to Matt Cutts, a well-known Google engineer, some people inside Google have been lobbying for page load time to be a factor in Google's search ranking algorithm. Barry Schwartz of SearchEngineLand.com gave some additional insight back in November on this topic.
As broadband penetration has continued to increase across the world, especially amongst the young, tech-savvy crowd that makes up most of the web design world, attention on minimizing page load times has dwindled. If Google does eventually add page load time as a factor in its ranking algorithm, then we may see a resurgence in effort to optimize websites for fast page loads; however, SEO benefits aside, pure user experience is still a good reason try to keep your total page load time as quick as possible.
If you haven't measured your site's page load times in awhile (or ever), then it's worthwhile to get ahead of the ball and put that on your schedule. Even if Google shuns the idea of using that as a ranking factor, your users will still appreciate your efforts. You can use this free page load speed tool to test your website.