After some discussions at SMX last week with other members of the search marketing industry (community) I was quite surprised to find that I am one of the only people I know who works in search that actually likes the Mahalo project and really do feel that the overall opinion of Mahalo by various members of the search marketing crowd has to do with a negative association with Jason Calacanis, after his various much published opinions on search marketing.
I am also a bit troubled as to why so many people seem to be hoping for the failure of Mahalo. There seems to be a bit of jealousy that Mahalo is more or less a simple idea, paying guides a small salary to classify the Internet and build pages of information based upon popular search terms and trends … but no one else has put together a project like this themselves, with so much fanfare.
Personally, I do not look at Mahalo as a search engine. I would not use the service to search on a day to day basis, but I have found some of its coverage of current events and classifications of informational sources, product reviews and recommended links quite useful to the beginner or novice web user. I consider Mahalo as the love child of Wikipedia, About.com and DMOZ, with a social spin that happens to have a search box (like most sites do) and also rank very well in Google and other search queries because of its freshness value.
I do however question the reasoning behind using the Hawaiian term for Thank You which is commonly associated with trash cans all over Hawaii, but perhaps that can be overlooked by the average non-Hawaiian web user.
Is Mahalo an informative and cutting edge section of the web, or an overstuffed bin of trash?
So, here are some reasons why I like Mahalo (no testing, just my opinion):
- Mahalo is a smart and needed service, reflective of the changes in not only the search engine climate but also the overall morphing of common day to day Internet usage. Not many of the old school human powered web informational categorization services like the Yahoo Directory, About.com, DMOZ or Wikipedia have actually changed much since their popularity peaked. Mahalo is malleable. Mahalo is up to date. Mahalo is today.
- The speed of which Mahalo covers current events and news stories is pretty impressive and seems to be the ideal meeting of current blogging and identifying the core news stories from trusted news stories and also other views by bloggers. I find that news search from Google or Yahoo depends too much on wire coverage from various services reporting the same exact story from one source. Mahalo does a very good job of mixing these up. As an example, I find this page to be quite informative : Bush Tax Cuts 2008
- Mahalo has done an excellent job of branding itself via its Mahalo flower logo, its hawaiian style fonts, and its Mahalo Daily which brings high quality informational video about social projects. The Mahalo team also does a ruthless job of promoting its stories on Facebook, Twitter and other social venues. As a web publisher, I think I can learn a good amount from their branding and promotion.
- The advertising on Mahalo is inobtrusive and very basic, with Google AdWords text ads (not sure if this is considered AdSense or AdWords since the ads are in search results, but those results are not always the end product of searches) integrated into the pages using the same font as the rest of the site
- Although Mahalo Follow, the Mahalo Toolbar, may be quite reminiscent of the toolbars of yesterday which follow and track pages visited, I do like the recommendation and voting feature which reminds me of StumbleUpon and again, I like the clever branding and positioning.. it’s not a toolbar, it’s Mahalo Follow.
So, what do you really think about Mahalo? Do you like the service or dislike it, from either a user, search marketing or social web perspective and why?