Stop Ruining The Internet, Mahalo. That’s My Job.

Having recently conquered the storyline of Grand Theft Auto IV for Xbox 360, Nickycakes was interested in learning some of what he had missed in his days, nay, weeks of reclusive gameplay obsession. No problem, a quick search of google will surely return some highly relevant results to clue any user in on the game behind the game. Expecting a page from IGN or a similar gaming site with tons of cheat codes, maps, easter eggs, etc, to be returned as the first result, the Cakes searched google for “gta 4 secrets”. Much to his surprise, the first result was a Mahalo page called “Grand Theft Auto Secrets.”

“Why is this surprising?” you may be asking yourself. Well, Mahalo is supposed to be a search engine. In fact, on the site it says “Mahalo is the world’s first human-powered search engine.” And since when are search engine results indexed in OTHER search engines? When you search yahoo for “motorcycles” would you expect the top result to be the google search result page for “motorcycles”? No. Wikipedia, maybe, but another search engine, surely not.

Ok, well apparently that’s old news, so Nickycakes brushed it aside and decided to see what was on the Mahalo page. Why even bother with this? Why not just skip to the next result in google? Well, a few reasons, actually. Mahalo is the brainchild of Jason Calacanis (no idea of that is the correct spelling, and who really cares anyhow). This Calacanis dude goes to SEO conferences and gives keynotes about why SEOs are spammers. He gets invited to speak at Affiliate Marketing conferences and tells everyone they’re polluting the internet. So his Mahalo pages must be just packed full of useful information, because such a flamboyant crusader for the anti-spam cause would never allow his own masterpiece to look like a crappy MFA site which would be improved by a $2 article about GTA4 cheats outsourced to some barely literate Digital Point member.

Think again.

The first thing you notice upon entering the page is the content. Err, sorry, lack thereof. Under the giant “Grant Theft Auto 4 Secrets” heading (that phrase is repeated 8 times with different levels of Heading tags for ultimate captain-planet-like seo spam effect) you will find a small link farm of gta 4 cheats sites which range in quality from mediocre to way-less-than-mediocre.

Underneath this stunning content you will find a giant adsense block, with colors perfectly matching every other link on the page. Coincidentally (or probably not so coincidentally) the majority of the text links on the site match the font and font size of the adsense ads. Almost as if the page were made…..for………adsense…

Below these ads, you’ll find a copied block of links to sites about GTA 4 in general (which are repeated on almost every GTA page on Mahalo, and are also completely useless). Below that are 27 links to other GTA related pages on Mahalo, providing more interlinking and internal link juice than a Chinese/Russian xrumer’d viagra store.

After searching, you actually can find some unique content on this page. Squished into the right hand navigation bar is a tiny heading called Secrets. Under this heading are 2 GTA4 “secrets” written out in 2 sentences. These “secrets” are probably the least “secret” “secrets” of any game in history. They were actually published on websites months before the game was even released. Good job guys, way to do your part in cleaning up the internet.

Naturally (and this is more a dig at google than mahalo) you would expect a site ranking #1 for such a popular search term to have a metric fuckton of backlinks from high authority sites. But a quick search of yahoo site explorer shows that the entirety of the backlinking is from other Mahalo pages, and links from Jason Calacanis’ blog. They clearly deserve the top spot.

What a bunch of amateurs.

uninstall-mahalo.JPG

Peanut Gallery

  • The ‘related searches’ is a joke, like anyone can find what they want in that mess.

    An excuse to use some internal anchor text and link love on variant search queries.

  • Haha laughed my ass off. You’re good.

  • Taken from the site:

    “WRITERS: Mahalo will pay you to write original video game FAQs/walkthroughs. For details and to apply, head over to our Walkthrough Project main page.”

    How can you maintain neutrality if you are PAYING people for content. It’s not as if people are submitting it for free and allowing it to be constantly edited + scrutinised (like on Wikipedia).

    Mahalo = A combination of Wikipedia and a web directory, poorly disguised as a search engine through the inclusion of a search bar which says ‘web search’. Add to that a touch of spam and a sprinkle of hypocrisy courtesy of the owner, and you have something which is completely pointless and useless.

  • As always cakes, your posts make a GREAT read everytime.

  • You’ve hit the nail on the head. Mahalo is a SEO machine.

  • Reminds me of the good ol days when other search engine’s results DID show up in each other’s index..

  • I grabbed a screenshot of this junk a couple of weeks ago and didn’t get around to post anything.

  • Nicky,

    Sean here from Mahalo, even though this post is a bit trollish lets go over some of it. Personally I love reading SEO’s blogs when they complain about how well indexed we are.

    Spamming Google:

    GTA is a huge trend right now, all pages are built out based on what people are looking for at the time. They are well placed because they were created before many other sites published the content (before game release even). There are so many pages because these are terms the public was looking for. This many pages on one topic is unique, normally we’d just create 1-2 all encompassing pages for a topic.

    Google these terms you’ll find massive splogs with the same content, are you mad because some are yours? ;) These are the “pollution” jason talks about. Every page we have on GTA has filtered out this crap.

    Advertisements:

    All ads on Mahalo are very clearly labeled as such. Much like any site using adsense the colors are matched to the theme. This is far from being deceptive as you seem to be implying.

    Original Content:

    Most of these GTA pages have original content located in the right sidebar. Some include original content for the entire page for example:

    http://www.mahalo.com/Grand_Theft_Auto_4_Walkthrough

    We had several guides on this subject playing the game non stop to create this content.

    Useless Links:

    For you to say this just tells me you didn’t even give the pages a real chance. Every page has links to the best related video game sites out there. The main page for example:

    http://www.mahalo.com/Grand_Theft_Auto_IV

    Is full of the best links on the topic, whats missing or why are these useless?

  • its not my job to make your shitty site usable

  • As always, I lol’d.

  • LMAO at the title. At some point, things must actually get under Calacanis’ skin. He thinks all linkbait is good, but I wonder what he would think if blog posts suddenly started showing up everywhere about how Mahalo was filled with spam, and 500 videos were added to Youtube daily talking about how Mahalo was nothing but a spam town. Maybe I should pay someone to upload 1,000 videos a week talking about how Mahalo was the root cause of all spam on the Internet. That would be comedy.

  • Nick, I think you are right. Other catagories are lacking as well. For example, under movies/sci-fi there is no listing for RODAN, the science fiction masterpiece of all time. That’s quite an oversight. Here’s a URL to the trailer, judge for yourself.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5jfCb6-2RA

    What a slip-up. Let’s get with it Mahalo!

    Nick’s Dad

  • You’re right dad. What an outrage.

  • While I think their mission/goal (to filter out the bad stuff and highlight the good, usefull links and info) is good, in reality it is just extra crap I have to go through usually. Sometimes the results are useful, but mainly they seem to just be links to other sites. Or if it is good info, it’s info I could have easily found without them.

  • Nice one Nick, I thought Mahalo is getting better. I’m just curious about their statements.

  • @Sean Percival – Just because every page on your site has filtered out the splog crap, as you say, doesn’t mean that your site isn’t acting in the same capacity on Google and the other search engines.

    I have never come across a Mahalo page in the serps that had any value to me. Every time I’ve been to your site I find myself thinking “why didn’t Google just send me to one of the sites that is linked out from this page in the first place?”

    All the pages I’ve come across, including several that I’ve clicked through to from Calacanis’s Twitter feed (not thinking about the fact that the snipped URL was probably just pointing to a page on Mahalo) have had no useful content and just several links.

    I’ve noticed a comment on them about them being “stub” pages or some such term. Maybe this means they’re not built out yet, but the fact is I wouldn’t use your site for any serious searching just from the lack of value I’ve always got from it.

    You said: “For you to say this just tells me you didn’t even give the pages a real chance”

    Why should we have to give the pages a real chance? If I can get the answer I’m looking for on Google or some other site without having to force myself to “give it a chance” that’s where I’m going to look.

    I think you need to realize that people won’t use your site because you *say* it’s great – they’ll use it because it *is* great. So far I haven’t seen anything that convinces me it’s even creeping close to being a better (or even as good) option.

  • “But a quick search of yahoo site explorer shows that the entirety of the backlinking is from other Mahalo pages, and links from Jason Calacanis’ blog. They clearly deserve the top spot.”

    Damn. I would have said off handedly that Mahalo was going to be a failure because it sucks so much, but now that it’s evident that Google has given this piece of crap high domain authority for some reason, it’ll probably be successful.

    How much fucking weight do its subpages have and why? Has Google lost its mind? Maybe it believes Calacanis’ propaganda about how Mahalo is an anti-spam Jesus sent to the Earth to eradicate spam…or maybe Mahalo is the perfect system for Google. If Google had it’s druthers it would give MFA sites lots of love since they make Google so much money, but it can’t because they don’t want people thinking the SERPS are filled with spam. So Mahalo is the perfect site for them. An MFA site that people don’t view as an MFA site simply because there is an obnoxious idiot behind it screaming, “Mahalo is the ultimate anti-spam site!” Say a lie enough times, and it becomes reality because lemmings believe propaganda. Google is just cashing in on the propaganda. They LOVE the idea of an MFA site that they can pretend isn’t one.

    Maybe this is a good formula when dealing with Google..seems to be. Plan: make an MFA site and then roam the country saying how this site is going to fight spam. Google will reward you with an idiotic and inflated trust rank score. I’ve figured you out Google!

  • Even after the issue has been brought to their attention here (as confirmed by Sean’s response), they still have not updated the article. There are plenty of “secret tips” in the game already discovered that could be added to make the Mahalo article better. Choosing not to do so is a mistake made in execution. Acting on feedback is one thing that sets a business apart from the defunct.

  • 100% agree. my friend works for mahalo and she says its not spam…i try to convince her daily that it is. the fact that i search for a term which mahalo ranks well for, and the results in mahalo can be found on the first page of google…along with mahalo is RIDICULOUS.

    definitely the worst part about mahalo is the fact that jason calls out other people as spammers all the time.

  • thanks for promoting our excellent GTA 4 coverage, cheats and walkthrough. We had six people work on the game for a week detailing every aspect of it, including writing the walkthrough with our user base before anyone else had it.

    Is our Walkthrough search? no, it’s content. and we sometimes do content on Mahalo in addition to our navigation service.

    This walkthrough is amazing in it’s detail:
    http://www.mahalo.com/Grand_Theft_Auto_4_Walkthrough

    You’ll see more and more content on our pages as time goes on. Did you notice that we’re writing 200-400 word Guide Notes now (up from our standard 1-3 sentence ones when we started?).

    I suggest starting on these pages and opening up every single link to see how far we’ve come in terms of content:
    http://www.mahalo.com/Boston
    http://www.mahalo.com/Ben_Stiller

    We’ve got 400 folks or so contributing to Mahalo, so in another 3-4 years it will be a new type of Wikipedia/google hybrid: part search, part content.

    For some historical background on this concept please check out naver.com and daum.net in Korea. They’ve been mixing content and navigation for some time.

    Again, really appreciate the feedback and the promotion of the video game pages. We’re really doing well with the video game content, and you’ll see more and more original content in that area (take a look at the video game section of the Greenhouse to see what else we have coming! :-).

    all the best, jason

    (ps – feel free to send a resume along)

  • Fred/#18: post your tips in the comments on the GTA cheats page! The idea behind mahalo is that, like wikipedia, folks will leave updates/tips for us to add.

    soon you may even be able to add them yourselves.

    best j

  • I’m not interested in the argument about whether Mahalo is a spam site. What I’m taking away from this conversation is … it’s a great idea to look at the underlying mahalo structure and see if I can duplicate their SEO success with a spammy site in my favor.

  • @jason
    we already have a wikipedia and its 10x better information wise than mahalo could ever hope to be and without the ads and other crap. They also have a search feature which i guess makes them a search engine by your definition. Hell, nickycakes.com is a search engine too!

    by nickycakes
  • Perhaps calacanis bashed the seo industry to pull off his little seo scamhola in sheeps clothing.

  • Although emotionally appealing, the argument that Mahalo is made for AdSense spam because:

    a) their primary traffic generation technique is content.

    b) they have adsense which blends with the page.

    Is a poor argument. In fact, with this evidence alone, and without regards to the “quality” and “breadth” of their content (which I personally feel is average to above average, especially when value is placed on organization and the ability to find other related content); you have to conclude that Mahalo is in no way more spam like in nature than almost any other site on the Internet.

    By that reasoning, any site with content and AdSense is made for adsense spam, which is a stretch.

    Lastly, the fact that it doesn’t disallow it’s content in Google and Yahoo may weaken it’s claim that it is a pure “search engine” (which JC clearly isn’t holding too tightly too), this still doesn’t have any implications regarding the quality of its content or whether the presence of adsense in the content renders it an MFA site.

    I would like to have the site myself :-) Clearly Jason is intelligent enough to point this out and settle the contraversy but we all know that he feels “all PR is good PR, especially when free”.

    On a minor note, to say that it’s of less value because Wikipedia already exists or other content is readily available assumes that no one wants more content of this nature (hard to sell). The fact that Mahalo pays for content pays people for content demonstrates that the future value (VC funded?) of average quality content built into a larger high quality nav structure is really high.

    http://siteanalytics.compete.com/mahalo.com/?metric=uv (this isn’t too “amateurish”).

    Am I telling you to use it over Google, or make it your homepage?…not at all! In fact I never use it and may never but I’m not representative of the millions of people who do use the net and the millions that still don’t. This is such a simple open/shut case that the cynic in me wonders if Mahalo pays for emotional reviews or it’s a consequence of his recent remarks from the conference trail. I saw him at Affiliate Summit in Vegas and although I can’t recall the facts completely, he made a compelling case for his product.

    Best,

    Jeff

  • “we already have a wikipedia and its 10x better information wise than mahalo could ever hope to be and without the ads and other crap. They also have a search feature which i guess makes them a search engine by your definition. Hell, nickycakes.com is a search engine too!”

    hahahahaha!

  • Nail. Hits. Head.

    It really chaps my rusty every time I see a link to Mahalo in SERPs. It’s absolutely useless. Sure, you’ve got ppl from Mahalo dropping comments with direct links to “where the content is”, but shouldn’t the “content” be obvious and easy to find on the Mahalo pages?

    You put my feelings into words in this post. Well said.

  • Well said nickycakes. Mahalo is nothing more than an AdSense juggernaut and probably has not been penalized by Google because of it.

  • “I suggest starting on these pages and opening up every single link to see how far we’ve come in terms of content”

    No thanks, I prefer not to look at garbage.

    “We’ve got 400 folks or so contributing to Mahalo, so in another 3-4 years it will be a new type of Wikipedia/google hybrid: part search, part content.”

    I thought it was supposed to be a “search engine for the short tail.” Then pages like this started being created http://www.mahalo.com/How_to_Potty_Train_a_Puppy and you had to drop that description. Now it’s a so-called “research engine.” Make up your damn mind. Mahalo changes its taglines more often than Joan Rivers gets plastic surgery.

  • OK; things are bordering on the ridiculous in regards to Mahalo now.

    The page this blog post is discussing is not spam in any way. It’s not adsense spam and it’s not search engine spam. Matter of fact; it has more content than many, many pages I have seen on the subject. It links to many good resources as well.

    I think many in this SEO industry have no clue about one basic thing. WHO/WHAT you link out to is just as important as any link coming into your site. Yes, that’s right.

    Of course Mahalo is now seen as an authority site. sheesh; are you all this naive about things? I think yes.

    Yawn; now that I’ve wasted my time on this thread and on yet again another post about how everyone hates Mahalo, allow me to try to find something useful to read out there….. tough to do these days I’m sorry to say.

  • [...] nickycakes has a great and surprising post about search-engine startup Mahalo.  To quote a user in the comments section: “Mahalo = A combination of Wikipedia and a web directory, poorly disguised as a search engine through the inclusion of a search bar which says ‘web search’. Add to that a touch of spam and a sprinkle of hypocrisy courtesy of the owner, and you have something which is completely pointless and useless.”  full article here adsense, seo [...]

  • ‘@Doug “Matter of fact; it has more content than many, many pages I have seen on the subject.”

    Where? All I see on the page in question
    http://www.mahalo.com/Grand_Theft_Auto_4_Secrets
    is a bunch of external and internal links.
    No actual words….

  • Congratulations for coining the term “ultimate-captain-planet-like-seo-spam-power”! I need those too.

  • Great blog post. I went to check the page out, and this post is listed as a ‘User Recommended Link.’ Somebody has a sense of humor…

  • Wow!

    I’d never had the pleasure of visiting Mahalo before clicking that link – remind me to kill myself before even thinking about returning.

    @Jason: After all the crap you spout about spam, this is the best you can offer as an alternative? You might be richer than me, but you’re also more stupid as well.

    @Doug Heil: You are a very confused man. Please take a lie down in a dark room and don’t come back for a few hundred years.

  • Hahahaha. This was fun to read.

  • nickycakes – 1
    mahalo – Nil

    Great post nicky. congrats on your victory over GTA4 as well.

    I guess that means it should have been nickycakes – 2

  • lol what a bunch of fucking hypocrites.

    owned.

  • “Of course Mahalo is now seen as an authority site. sheesh; are you all this naive about things? I think yes.”

    Um, excuse me?

    Any SEO will tell you that outlinks aren’t worth jack shit compared to inlinks…

    Doug, I’m sure your a nice guy, but your defending Mahalo in such a way that it seems maybe you have a vested interest…It seems blatantly obvious to me and, well, everyone else that posted here (besides the people getting paid by mahalo, coincidence?) that Mahalo is incredibly useless and provides no new source of information nor is it revolutionary with regard to usability or interactivity.

    On a side note, the definition of “SPAM” tends to be different within different sectors of society… the reason SEO’s, specifically blackhat seos, believe mahalo to be spam is because it follows, EXACTLY, the method of producing an affiliate for adsense revenue producing niche site, i.e.:
    1. Find a niche (for mahalo is trying to find EVERY niche in the world… This is good, but don’t claim to be otherwise, lest ye be labeled as a hypocrite.)
    2. Start a site, fill with content (all SEO how-tos will tell you to hire content writers, and look what mahalo has done: “We’ve got 400 folks or so contributing to Mahalo”…)
    3. Get Links – Well, Google helped with that one…
    ATTENTION ALL SEOS – ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TO RANK IS TO LINK OUT FROM YOUR SHIT SITE TO SITES WITH CONTENT, JUST LISTEN TO THE BRILLIANT DOUG HEIL OF IHELPYOU.COM, HE HELPS ME!
    Hey, all PR is good PR, eh?

    So to surmise, if the Spammers call it spam, its f*in spam.

  • Haha one more to the fails of MAHALO:

  • I think the image didn’t show up – so here’s the link –> http://i39.tinypic.com/30th0eh.png

  • Wow. Mahaol is a spam site with tons of crap and a couple words. Seriously, just 8 secrets for the entire GTA4 game? How is that even useful?

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  • Scraping other sites and then no-following links is a brutal combo.

  • Mahaol is a spam site with tons of crap and a couple words. Seriously, just 8 secrets for the entire GTA4 game? How is that even useful?

  • Will be interesting to see if the supposed changes to the way google looks at spam sites dings Mahalo. One can only hope, if not only to bring Jason’s massive ego into check.

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