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Review site looks to make its mark

Posted: March 1, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 1, 2012 2:00 a.m.

A business ratings and reviews website has relocated to Valencia in its efforts to revamp its Web presence and compete with sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List. is the 8-year-old project of Santa Monica-based Mel Leathem, the website’s vice president of business development. It provides information on local businesses, complete with user-generated reviews and content from the businesses themselves.

The website sat stagnant for a few years until March 2011, when Leathem hired three full-time employees to rebuild RateIt from a one-room office suite on Rye Canyon Road.

“Valencia is the right fit, both from a financial and H.R. perspective,” Leathem said in an email. “We found a good place for a decent price, and there were some people who lived in the area that we wanted to take on board.”

RateIt relaunched in December after responding to feedback from users.

“After the site was unveiled the first time, we gathered feedback from users and got a feel of the market to find out how we can make RateIt better and more user-friendly,” Leathem said. “Once we collected enough info, we proceeded to revamp the site, and that’s how we got to the RateIt that we see today.”

“In any company’s progression, there comes a time where it is appropriate to make some drastic changes,” said a December 2011 blog post about the website’s relaunch.

Peter Gregory, who is in charge of search-engine optimization and exposure, said the staff has been working on writing content for the website, creating a social-media presence and upping the user-generated content by encouraging users to provide ratings.

The website is now financed through advertising and website-specific deals from national businesses, as well as local ones, from the 30 markets the website currently serves (including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County and Oakland).

Restaurants and legal services tend to be the more popular searches and ratings for the 500,000 visitors that hit the site each month, Gregory said, and Los Angeles and Chicago bring in the most traffic of the markets.

While RateIt is making a comeback, similar websites have grown popular, particularly among restaurant goers. RateIt can take a chunk of the market because customers will appreciate that it doesn’t charge businesses to add listings and it doesn’t alter reviews — complaints that have cropped up for other competing services, Leathem said.

“RateIt has a great user interface that can compete with similar websites,” he said. is located at 25322 Rye Canyon Road, Suite 118 in Valencia and can be reached at (661) 362-0222. 


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