Mahalo is adding user reviews to its human-powered search site in a new feature dubbed "My Mahalo."
So, when you search for books, movies, music, places, and products, a box appears on the right with reviews and comments from people in your Mahalo social network, as well as an average rating for whatever is being reviewed. Underneath the results is a section for user-recommended links related to the search and user reviews from other Mahalo users, as well as a link to discuss the page with others.
If you are using the Mahalo toolbar, the user reviews will be combined beside and below the results on Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft Live Search.
The aim is to create a page where you can see not only Web search results, but also find out what your friends have to say about what you are looking for, and whether they have bought that item or want to buy it.
"We're attempting to say we have real good search results plus a social graph," says Mahalo Chief Executive Jason Calacanis, who announced My Mahalo at the Search Engine Strategies conference in New York Wednesday. "It's the first time anyone has done it."
Another new feature lets users easily import information from other social networks and sites (such as a bookshelf from GoodReads or a Netflix queue) so that data too appears on Mahalo.
The new items automatically appear in your profile as reviews. The profiles are available for anyone on the Web to see.
"We're reading peoples' reviews from RSS feeds and other systems," not using OpenSocial yet, Calacanis says. "All data will be easily imported and exported out from Mahalo."
Since Mahalo, the site has create more than 40,000 pages of content and attracted about 400 paid contributors who create the pages, Calacanis says. The site, which runs Google ads, gets about 3.7 million monthly visitors, about 2.5 million in the U.S., he says.
Adding the user reviews component does differentiate Mahalo, but we wonder how it can effectively compete against Google and Yahoo, which are likely to add social-networking components at some point. And can it best established review sites like Yelp, Amazon.com, and even Netflix?
"We're figuring out the metrics of the business," Calacanis concedes. "In a year there could be 1,000 to 2,000 people working from home to build, basically, a wire service or news service, but for search."