Google has named Webpage load speed as a ranking factor. This means that when Google calculates in which position to display results in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), faster loading Webpages may be positioned more prominently. There are several hundred factors that Google uses when considering where to place a Webpage in the SERPs so load speed will only have a small bearing. More ‘noise’ however is coming from Google about Webpage and Website load speeds including an interesting article where data regarding the average load speed and related factors for several billion pages were analysed. Google also made headlines recently with the announcement about its own public DNS to assist with speeding up the resolution of names to IP addresses.
There are also other free tools (both Online and software applications) that assist with speed measurement against various performance matrices. One of the little known but very useful tools is WebPagetest which should be given a try.
Website performance is becoming increasingly important as a Search Engine Optimization task. Although Page load speeds only have a small bearing on the SERPs at present, all indicators are that Website performance will become ever more important as an SEO activity.