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Mahalo, an SEO's Worst Enemy

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:

 Mahalo, an SEO's Worst Enemy

Steve Searer

 Mahalo, an SEO's Worst Enemy

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15 thoughts on “Mahalo, an SEO's Worst Enemy

  1. Nice polarizing post. Personally, I think it’s a sensationalized topic that’s being blown way out of proportion, I’m sure you’ve just appealed to the seo-haters though, which could garner some nice backlinks.
    As for Mahalo, I don’t know a single “normal user” that uses it or will rely on it for solid information in the near future, even in the coming years.
    As for Mahalo being an SEO’s worst nightmare, do you think algorithm-driven search engines will be replaced by human powered directories? We’ve already seen similar concepts develop and die a slow, painful death. Even if Mahalo sticks around it’s simply a supplement. There will always be a need for online marketers and sites like Mahalo just help SEOs expand their skill set.

  2. None of it really matters as Mahalo is not going to gain any traction. Information is growing at an exponential rate and Mahalo isn’t scalable. Period.

  3. I would have thought that people who “don’t know how to search” would get along better at a major engine, as there are more results to sift through and more of a chance that the thing they’ve searched (badly) for is going to show up.
    And everything can be influenced. In fact, people are easier to influence than are machines :D

  4. I usually do not get fired up when I see people trying to pioneer new frontiers. I feel change is the only constant we will ever know. With that being said, I feel Jason is painting a picture that is based on subjective facts and a smoke and mirror demonstration to try and sell a product that is inferior to other tools already in the space.
    He uses the example of ‘flat panel TVs’, on 2 separate occasions, painting a picture that a consumer will be inodated with mis-information and spam.
    When you search Google search for ‘flat panel tvs’, below are the top 5 searches.
    You be the judge if his story telling is accurate:
    1) – 3,4000 different flat panel tvs to choose from, broken down by price, brand, and screen size. (sounds pretty relevant to me)
    2) – no explanation needed
    3) – shopping engine – reviews, price comparisons ect…
    4) – informational / review site – objective information, pro’s and con’s of flat panel tvs.
    5) htttp:// – unbiased reviews of the latest tech items and gadgets.
    Yeah – that list SHOUTS spam. Not sure what Jason and his team was ‘smoking’ in the pool house for the 3 months they were doing their R&D, but it sure wasn’t accurate market research.

  5. I agree with Jane’s point that people are easier to influence then computers. Plus, what is Calacanis offering that has not been offered and failed before?

  6. “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.”
    Gonna go WAY out on a limb here and say, “Because JC is a pompous dickhead.” That explanation seems far more likely than, “SEOs are shaking in their boots over his pathetic excuse for a search engine.”

  7. Yeah, that will teach Calacanis to bitch about seo, lets all link to him and create tons of buzz, that will show him.
    I think it’s funny that he turns SEO types into frenetic energizer bunnies to create buzz for him.
    The man is a genius.

  8. Mahalo will fall inline with the other hundreds of search engines and be used by certain people who prefer its results. It won’t take any major search engine’s regular users away.

  9. I just did some testing on Mahalo and to my surprise, my entry was listed right away? I thought all links were checked with his “army?” I guess spammers can have a field day if they want.. I smell Matt Cutts somewhere lurking..

  10. Greetings all, at the end of the day from a business stand point Mahalo has incredible legs. Deriving part of my companies income from SEO does not matter one little bit with the inception of Mahalo.
    For business searching it is simpler and easier to use Mahalo as you are not presented with a plethora of spam links irrelevant links and so forth.
    Google have their own issues as does Mahalo if Google does not like you for whatever reason they simply hand edit your results right out of the indexes. So in theory if your site has quality content it will show up across the board. What everyone is trying to limit is the index SPAM issue, who wants to view irrelevant and not worth clicking results here lies the strength of Mahalo.
    Another reason Jason receives harsh criticism is tells the truth about net Guru’s and how they are all a bunch of con artists 99.9% of the time including many dodgy SEO people as well. It is a true statement that he is right and I am just one of the people whom backs his words in most cases 100%.
    Have a B L O G G I N G good day!

  11. Mahalo is not a bad concept but the way it is being done will never make it big. The model can never be scaled ans worst, the quality is very poor. Just see any random 10 pages of it and you can understand.