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A Few Mahalo Updates and Questions
This discussion is about four topics related to Mahalo (and the general Internet):
- Is Mahalo a clone of Hakia Gallery?
- Corporate social tool usage
- Where does Mahalo get their high Alexa ranking from?
- Positive employee feedback and encouragement from management
Mahalo: A Hakia Clone?
Last week I met with semantic search engine Hakia. One of the features they demo’ed to me is the "Hakia Gallery". The Gallery is a partially human-edited results for over several thousand results. The immediate reaction I had was "Is Mahalo a Hakia clone?" – do a search for cancer on both Hakia and Mahalo to see an example. Mahalo probably wins a point on design but gives up multiple points as the Hakia Gallery uses some human and some computer to create a much more robust page. So is Mahalo a clone? We already know that Jason knows how to clone… see Netscape.
Update: Based on my offline emails with Jason regarding this section, here is my clarification. I am in no way suggesting that Mahalo lifted any design elements from Hakia. I am merely noting that the pages are similar. I think Mahalo’s design is easier on the eyes and Hakia’s technology appears better by combining human-edited results plus their search technology. Also, please note that the link to Netscape being a Digg clone goes to TechCrunch.
Mahalo’s social media usage
One of the ways Mahalo is getting traffic is by leveraging their employees and contractors to submit and vote up stories on the social media sites. Here is an example post on the news group:
When I first came across this, I was completely outraged. How could a CEO ask his or her employees to digg, reddit, stumble, scape a story to get it on the front page. It’s one thing to ask some buddies to help out with a digg, but for a corporation to ask their employees to do this, just seemed wrong, very wrong.
I decided to hold off posting about this as I wanted to really think about it. And here is the conclusion I came to. It’s ok in moderation. I guess there is no difference to this type of cheerleading as if Ford asked their employees to pass out Ford info as they walk in a park. Jason isn’t forcing the employees to vote, nor is he asking for positive votes. As Mahalo grows in number of employees/contractors, we will see more Mahalo stories hit the front page. I do wonder, if the social sites were all "corporate run" would the largest corporations always make the front page of x site?
Investigating Mahalo’s Alexa ranking
Jason has touted his Alexa ranking (for whatever its worth, which is basically nil) all over the Internet, mostly at Valleywag. And currently Mahalo sits at a rank of 5,267 for the 3-month average and an awesome 3,256 for last week. I decided to put on my Columbo analytics hat and have a look deeper (ok, only as deep as Alexa goes!). Here is the chart of number of pageviews and what parts of the Mahalo site are generating the traffic:
Ten pageviews per visitor – who wouldn’t love that! And then we see where the traffic is coming from. Almost half of the traffic is to internal, non-public sections of Mahalo. Greenhouse is the section of the site where the "guides" work on creating the pages that appear on Mahalo. And this means that at least a portion of the guides are using the Alexa toolbar. When you enter the Greenhouse, you search for the terms that you might want to write a results-page for. But it might take you 20 searches to find a page that isn’t created already. Hence the 9.8 pageviews per visitor!
Now back to that 5,267 ranking. Since we know that ~50% of the traffic is to internal sections and we know that the majority of views are from guides, we can apply this to the other ~50 of the traffic that is going to the main Mahalo.com site. In essence, the majority of the traffic to Mahalo is actually internal, employee traffic! I wonder what their ranking would be if this was removed. My HP10B++ estimates it to be in the 60-80k range.
Jason is smart, very smart. Get your employees to use a publicly available tool and over time, as you increase employees, you increase monetizable page views. Even if it’s not on his radar today, it should be. Imagine if you had 1 million page views, and your employees added another 3 million creating pages to support the other 1 million. To the average Internet marketer (i.e. most of the ones I have dealt with), that’s 4 million page views to buy/sell! Genius!
The last part of this conversation is around employee encouragement and feedback. Jason has done a great job here. Since Jason is so public online, it’s easy to tell when he is having a bad day. I have watched him throw a fit on x person or y site and just a few minutes later congratulate the guides on Mahalo. It’s so critical to give your employees the encouragement they need to be satisfied. Writing search pages is probably about as boring (most times) as watching paint dry.
But if you can get people excited about the work they are doing, they will feel better about it. I hope this post encourages Jason to talk about employee encouragement in the Web worker field. I have managed teams for years now and it’s easy to walk over to someone’s desk and tell them how great a job they did. But online where your workers are spread out, it’s not as easy. Might be a great niche there for someone to blog about!