You can use Google’s PageSpeed insight tool to get a quick idea of how your site performs on mobile and desktop and it will provide you with any issues it finds and most importantly what is slowing down your site. Search Console should highlight any crawl issues and will offer a mobile usability report. Using these tools you will be able to see the problems and get some idea how to fix them in an accessible, effective way.
Getting a score of 100/100 does not guarantee a top ranking in Google, nor does a slow site mean you will be penalised heavily. A slow site with good content will still likely rank better than a fast site with poor content but if a competitor’s site is faster than yours you may find your search rankings dropping for certain terms.
Google states the speed update “will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries.” Which sounds like nothing to be concerned about, but a low speed score and quality score will have negative results.
Those who use Google ads may need to pay a higher premium or if the site speed and quality is poor it could well fail to serve ads at all. WebP is an format for images which employs both lossy and lossless compression, along with animation and alpha transparency. Basically makes it super small and super fast.
The first step is to see what is causing the greatest speed issues, in most cases images are a big issue. Many are not sized correctly and optimised and are not served in a “next gen” format. Here are a few solutions for WordPress.
Is a solid plugin for offering image optimisation and the pro version even offers the “next gen” images.
This is a plugin which offers the WEBP image conversion and one I used personally.
Caching is basically a way of improving your sites loading times and allows the code to be minified and delivered much faster.
This is a well-established plugin and does an amazing job but it may not work on all hosts.
Not as well known as W3 Total Cache but had pretty much the same features and in my experience works on the vast majority of hosts.
The more in depth answer to the initial question is yes page speed is important, not only can it affect your page ranking, your visibility, it can affect your Google ads and end up costing you money on ads that aren’t served correctly or worse still, losing visitors and potential sales for a poorly performing website.
I encourage you to try the tools I mentioned and if you feel confident addressing some of the speed issues yourself you will soon start to reap the benefits of your work. If you’re not as confident or your site is more complex I do offer website optimisation as a service.
Looking to learn more about the Speed Update? Read about it here: https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2018/07/search-ads-speed