mahalologo011008.pngWe’ve been skeptical of Mahalo in the past, because it’s not clear how the “human-powered search engine” could be more accurate than — or gain market share from — algorithm-based search engines like Google.

Today, web analytics firm Hitwise has an interesting post showing traffic to Mahalo rising sharply over the past few months (see graph below). The site has gone from a zero percent market share of total US internet traffic earlier this year, to .0023 percent this past week. Hitwise’s graph, below, compares Mahalo with search startup rival ChaCha.

Mahalo has staffers who create sets of search results by hand, for popular search terms. These search results include links to other sites on the web; the company also recently started letting users suggest links to be added to results (our coverage).

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The context for these numbers: Mahalo ranked 69th among search engines, last week, and received 0.02% of all US search engine traffic, compared with Google’s 55.52%.

hitwisemahalo2011008.pngMaholo’s users tend to be younger. The graph, left, divides Mahalo’s visitors by age group, and compares it to the average age distribution of US visitors to web sites — 18-24 year olds were 36.67 percent more likely to be on Mahalo.com than average. Hitwise says most people use Mahalo and then go to entertainment or news sites — especially gaming sites. I’m going to take a wild guess that most Mahalo users are young men, and they’re not just coming for human-powered search, they’re coming to check out the Mahalo Daily online geek television show, starring Veronica Belmont.