Page load times influence SEO
With all SEO techniques and tips, it's very hard to provide hard evidence to support claims. Faster loading pages do influence SEO and SEO optimised pages load faster. This statement has a couple of meanings and also has a self fulfilling prophecy with its circular reference.
Let's begin with page load times influencing SEO. Users do not want to wait a long time for pages to load, if your competitors pages are loading much faster than yours, there is a very good chance that people will leave your website and prefer to use your competitors. Google and other search engines main goal is to provide the best possible results and try to get you to those results as quickly as possible. Therefore logically speaking faster loading websites will be given extra points in the algorithms determined to rank web pages.
Optimising pages for SEO generally results in faster loading times. The reason for this is because SEO optimised text is semantically correct text, there are less extraneous tags which results in smaller file sizes and quicker renderings of the pages. Eliminating the use of tables when not needed and also span, br and other tags that are used more often than should be, also helps with SEO.
Optimising a page to rank better in google results in using more semantic tags and eliminiate superfluous tags. Google and other search engines will look at pages that are optimised and faster loading and give extra points. Therefore page load times do influence SEO and faster loading pages are created by using correct SEO techniques.