Search engine optimization can be key for improving the performance of any search engine, from Google to Facebook.
However, a new analysis of data from the US Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid found that even for high-quality search engines, it can still take some time to earn back the investment you make with your loans.
The analysis, published in the September issue of the Journal of Finance, found that on average, the average day loan for students enrolled in four-year institutions in 2014 was $4,700, compared to $9,700 for those with a two-year degree.
“The majority of borrowers who default on their student loans default because of lack of search engine optimization, not because they did not have the skills to perform the search themselves,” the study said.
The study looked at the first quarter of each school year, and compared students with similar credit scores, with no prior search engine experience, with students with previous searches of $100,000 or more and those with no previous search engine searches at all.
It also looked at student loan repayments over a four-month period, and found that the average student loan payment was $3,906 in the first month and $5,632 in the second.
In addition, the study found that search engine search results were highly correlated with students’ student loan repayment.
“The more search engine traffic that students get from Google, the more likely they are to have a good first month, which is important because that can help them pay off their loans in their first year,” said the lead author of the study, Christopher Johnson, a professor at the College of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
“And because Google is more likely to have good rankings than other search engines in search, the better they are at ranking the search results on their site, the faster they will rank the search.”
The study found a strong correlation between the amount of search traffic a search engine received from Google and the number of days the search engine returned.
For example, the search volume for Google’s top-ranked search engine in the US, Yahoo!, reached 2.4 million searches in March 2014.
For the study’s analysis, Johnson and his colleagues used a dataset from the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA), a non-profit agency in the United States Department of Agriculture that collects information about students’ college financial aid.
OSFA has more than 12,000 student loan borrowers nationwide and the data is compiled by an independent, non-partisan agency.
The data was analysed using data from OSFA’s annual report on college and university financial aid, and the Office’s own Student Loan Consolidation Report.
According to the report, search engine indexing was a key factor in the increased interest rates on the loan that students took out in their second year.
The researchers said that by using search engine data to look at the relationship between search engine performance and repayment, they were able to identify which searches students took more seriously.
“This suggests that students should pay attention to how their search engines perform,” the authors wrote.
“While students should be looking at their search engine rankings, and not the quality of the search engines themselves, the fact that search engines rank high in search queries is likely to increase their chances of getting a good loan.”
More: This article originally appeared on Business Insider UK