Over the past several days I have been reading about a prank people (SEO’s) played on the human-powered search engine, Mahalo. Granted, the prank got a laugh from me, but it got me thinking about why SEO’s would be so vocal in opposing such a new service. Here are a couple quick reasons I can think of:
No control over the listings
One of the reasons Search Engine Optimization is booming right now is because most search engines like Google or Yahoo can be influenced using certain techniques that define what results show up where. Mahalo on the other hand, uses people to find and list the best results. The only ways to influence those results are to either be a great resource or to pay a guide to add your link to the listings.
People that are not search saavy will use Mahalo
Mahalo, once it fills in its results will be much better for people that are terrible at searching on traditional engines. The simple fact is that some people just don’t understand how to search, so having a pre-sifted result page is just what they need. With searchers bypassing traditional search engines in favor of the non-influencible Mahalo, there is a potential loss of business.
One of the biggest concerns for Mahalo lies in the integrity of its results. We already know that some SEO’s make big money seeding Digg with their client’s links. Would it be possible to infiltrate Mahalo’s results with paid for links as has been done numerous times on Digg? While I would love to think so because it would make a great story, the answer is most likely a no.
In order to find out more about this I contacted Jason Calacanis, the founder of Mahalo, and asked what measures had been taken to prevent the influencing of Mahalo’s results. Jason’s response was:
We have an army of humans looking at every link coming in. I have 40 folks fulltime… no SEO is going to get by our army unless they are submitting an absolutely amazing link–in which case they are helping the users and thank them!
In the end, I believe Mahalo will be a great resource for things that are commonly searched for. Please don’t forget that the service has only been live for a few weeks now, so it is important to give it a chance to shine instead of immediately tossing it in the dumpster.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you can listen to Jason Calacanis’ CalacanisCast today which will feature several SEO’s discussing Mahalo. Also, here is an interesting video interview about Mahalo: