Quality Scores in Adwords for quite a while now; if your site loads quickly you are rewarded (in theory) with cheaper, better placed ads. The reasoning behind the Quality Score is that Google wants to improve the experience of its users, because if users aren't happy they are less likely to use Google in future and their advertising revenue suffers. Presumably working on the same logic, Google's Matt Cutts confirmed at last week's PubCon event that load times will soon be a ranking factor for the organic listings. If your website loads too slowly, there is a chance your rankings will fall as a result. The confirmation caused a bit of a stir in the SEO community, even though it will be only one of hundreds of ranking factors in Google's algorithm, and probably not a hugely influential one at that. The real question is: Who was crazy enough to ignore page load times in the first place? Even though Google expressly tell them not to, countless webmasters focus exclusively on Big G; everything is done with an eye on whether or not Google will approve and grant a better ranking. "Google likes fresh content? I'll fill my site with complete crap, but I'll do it on a daily basis. I can haz ranking?" Now that Google has announced it as a ranking factor, webmasters everywhere will be scrambling to optimise their load times, oblivious to the fact their visitors have had to put up with a treacle-powered website for months or even years. Matt Cutts and co. are only making the change because they recognise the negative impact it has on user experience. People don't want to go back to slow, clunky, unusable websites. With this in mind, how much returning traffic have slow websites that offer a bad user experience missed out on over the years? Perhaps even more than they have sacrificed in the constant search for new visitors. Target new visitor traffic, but never at the expense of the user experience. Don't forget why they're coming to your site in the first place.