Google Webmaster Tools Site Performance
Google and Microsoft have recently published several posts that indicate that they are going to put more emphasize on a website's performance in regards to Google Search and Bing search results. This makes performance a larger factor when it comes to a site's visibility in those search engines.
Basically, if all metrics are identical between two sites, the one with the better performance may be placed before the one with worse performance.
But improving site performance has additional immediate benefits to the webmaster and site owner. This includes better user retention and activity, an increase in revenue, and lower costs thanks to compression technologies.
We already dealt with improving website performance here on Ghacks and are pleased that Google has added an experimental feature to the Google Webmaster Tools which displays a website's performance over time.
The performance graph is "derived from aggregated information sent by users of your site who have installed the Google Toolbar and opted-in to its enhanced features". Google includes a performance rating in the graph that indicates to the webmaster if the performance is rather fast, average or slow.
Even better is the fact that it will display example pages, the load time and page speed suggestions that will provide tips on how to improve the performance of specific pages and the website.
Google suggests to use the Page Speed add-on for Firefox to optimize the website further. Webmasters who have added their website to Google Webmaster Tools can check out the Site Performance feature under the Labs link in the left sidebar navigation.
Update: The feature is no longer available. Google has added site speed information to Google Analytics which means that you do need to run the Analytics script on your website for site speed to be tracked and displayed to you.
You find site speed listed under Behavior > Site Speed. The feature is divided into four pages: overview, page timings, speed suggestions and user timings.
Google displays average page load times and speed suggestions for individual pages on the site. This links directly to PageSpeed Insights where the site is analyzed and its speed rated.
Ultimately, it is recommended to analyze a website's performance, and optimize its load time if possible by removing scripts, improving code, enabling features such as data compression, or reducing the size of elements that are loaded on the site.