Google officially announces that page load time does directly affect (admittedly it doesn’t carry as much weight as the relevance of a page, but its does matter) rankings on their Google Webmaster Central Blog. They say this has actually been going on for a few weeks and that currently it is only affecting about 1% of US-based websites.
So, what does this mean to you? It is basically telling you that if you want to increase your chances of ranking well within Google search results, then increase your page load times.
Also, if you need to compress some images you may want to check out the free (very robust and easy to use) online image editor Piknik which was recently bought by…….drum roll please……Google (who did you really expect).