What Chef Gordon Ramsay Can Teach You About Building a Highly-Trafficked Blog

by Ana Hoffman · 49 comments

traffic generation with Gordon Ramsay

“I have a very assertive way. It’s wake up, move your ass, or piss off home.” ~ Gordon Ramsay (source)

Have you ever seen “Kitchen Nightmares” with Chef Gordon Ramsay?

If not, here’s a brief summary: Gordon finds struggling restaurants, and then he helps them improve their business.

The funny thing is that the more I watched this show, the more I realized that Gordon Ramsay’s advice was not just about restaurants.

When you break his advice and process down, you can discover new insights that can improve any kind of business—especially an online business that’s struggling to generate traffic to their site.

So let’s go ahead and do just that… Let’s see how Gordon Ramsay can help you get more traffic to your blog.

1. Observe and analyze

When Ramsay shows up to a new restaurant that needs work, his first matter of business is observation.

He shows up unannounced, orders a few things off of the menu, checks out the restaurant (this includes the dining area and the kitchen), and without any hesitation, he tells the owners what he REALLY thought of his experience.

With your blog, you can do the same.

Visit your site, and pretend like you’ve never seen it before (if there’s no way you can do that ask a friend or colleague to do it).

Then analyze your experience. What does your blog do well? Where does it fall short?

You’ll want to be honest with yourself…of course. So pay special attention to:

  • Look and feel – Is your blog inviting, uncluttered, and eye-catching? If not, here’s how you can design your blog yourself.
  • Can people figure out what your blog is all about? Make sure you have a great tagline to keep people, and make them scroll down. Also make sure your site passes the header removal test.
  • Are you highlighting positive social proof? Like high comment counts, Twitter and Facebook shares, and high subscriber numbers? If not, find other bloggers and see if you can start sharing and interacting with each others’ content.
  • Is your content good enough? Does it teach your readers new skills, solve their problems? Is it about THEM or about YOU? This is hard to be objective about, but it’s worth it.
  • Can people navigate your blog easily?, i.e. are your pages linked to each other in a way that is logical and makes sense for the reader to stay and click on more links?

2. Identify the bottlenecks

The next thing Ramsay does is identify the problems.

Why is the restaurant failing? Why aren’t customers lining up at the front door?

Why is it that this restaurant is failing? Why aren’t the customers coming? Is it the food? Is it the atmosphere? Is it the staff?

Again, as a blogger, you can ask yourself similar questions.

If you followed step one, and you were honest with yourself, you’ll already know the questions and answers.

But if you’re looking for some help, here’s a short list of reasons why your site might not be getting traffic:

  1. Does your design look amateur-looking?
  2. Is your content useful and easy-to-read?
  3. Do you overwhelm people with advertisements?
  4. Are you being yourself…authentic, if you will?
  5. Do you treat your readers and customers with respect?

Once you run through that list, you’ll also need to know what’s the primary action you want people to take on your site, besides the the obvious one “reading your blog.”

If your traffic isn’t performing that specific action, find out why. You can ask friends, other bloggers, or maybe you can run a survey.

For example, over at my site, I wanted more subscribers on my email list. I was doing OK using all the regular methods like placing my opt-in forms in the right places, and giving calls to action subscribe.

But it wasn’t until it occurred to me to start promoting my free SEO report in my blog posts—artfully working it into the content—that I started seeing MUCH better results.

3. Don’t work on too many projects

The first thing Gordon Ramsay does with a struggling restaurant is reduce the number of items on their menu.

Instead of 20 mediocre dishes, he’ll come up with 10 incredible ones.

In the same vein, make sure your blog output is worth your readers’ time.

If you’re posting daily, but rushing to get the posts out, reduce your output so you can focus on creating 3 or 4 articles that are amazing.

If you have several blogs, and you don’t have the time for all of them, maybe you should cut down to your core 2 or 3 blogs and make them outstanding.

If you’re focused on several traffic generation methods, and you’re not seeing solid results, you may be overextending yourself. Take one technique, MASTER it, and put it on autopilot. Then, you can move on to the next one.

If you’re selling products, maybe you can focus on your most profitable, best-selling products. When Steve Jobs took the helm at Apple for the second time, the first thing he started doing was cutting product lines… and you know how Apple turned out.

4. Revamp your niche and design

Next step Chef Ramsay takes is market research.

He takes a survey of the surrounding restaurants to see what kind of food they are serving, what they are doing well, where they are falling short, and where the gaps in market are, much like Derek Halpern did with his Social Triggers.

Then he puts together the menu and redesigns the restaurant itself around the theme he came up with during his market research.

Don’t tell me you have another “internet marketing” blog.

“Internet marketing” is a broad niche, and it’s no wonder your blog is getting lost in the sea of others.

The solution is to make your blog about a specific niche within internet marketing, say list building, or SEO, or personal development, or reviews.

You might be worried about narrowing down your niche too much, but you can always broaden it later. In the beginning, you want to stand for something, or else you risk standing for nothing.

5. Market the heck out of it

Now comes the fun part: reaching out to the potential food lovers.

Gordon Ramsay spares nothing for this step: anything from as simple as giving out flyers for the opening night to organizing farmers markets and doing food tastings.

Online, you need to do the same exact thing. Your blog marketing stage is only limited by your imagination and the ability to outthink and outdo your competition.

No one can teach you to think outside the box, yet let me tell you—it’s a skill, not a gift. It can be developed just like any other skill.

How can you get people to view your site? If you’re just using Twitter and Facebook to share your content, is there anything else you can do that might yield better results? Is your competition getting press? If so, why? Where are they getting it? Can you get press from the same places?

6. Deliver on your promises

“I maintain standards and I strive for perfection. That level of pressure is conveyed in a very bullish way and that’s what cooking (blogging) is all about.” ~ Gordon Ramsay

Once Gordon Ramsay markets the heck out of the restaurant reopening, he knows it’s time to deliver.

It’s time to show off the newly redesigned restaurant, and be ready to run like a well-oiled machine, pumping out those scrumptious, profitable dishes off the simple menu.

It’s time to turn those first-time foodies into raving, word-spreading, soon-returning restaurant fans.

And again, in the blog world, nothing else matters if you can’t deliver some incredible content.

The kind of content your readers won’t find anywhere else.

The kind of content that focuses on them and leaves them hungry for more.

And it goes beyond just your blog content, of course.

If you market affiliate products, make sure you stand behind them 100%, which usually means you tried them and benefited from them.

If you are building an email list, make sure you deliver quality and value and not a bunch of affiliate offers.

Remember, your reputation is the key to opening a lot of doors for your business…and also closing them for good. It’s entirely up to you.

7. Rinse and repeat

Despite the initial success, many restaurants, even with Ramsay’s help, still fail within a few months.

Acquiring new business and traffic and sustaining traffic are two different things and anyone with a successful business knows that.

That’s why you need to keep working on your business / blog.

You need to keep marketing it, communicating with your readers, and networking with other bloggers all the time!

Does it get easier?

Yes.

It becomes second nature, and you learn to do it more efficiently.

But it never ends.

Final Marketing Takeaway

“We’re fragile, fragmented souls who are very sensitive to criticism.” ~ Gordon Ramsay

Indeed we are, Gordon.

Yet there’s no growth without identifying the areas that need to be worked on.

As painful as it is to realize that even with all the blood, sweat, and tears that we put into our blogs, they are still and probably never will be perfect.

But that’s OK. That’s what running your own business is all about.

Now, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Love it or hate it? Comment to show me that you’re alive!

About the Author: Traffic, traffic, traffic... Can't do without it, but don't know how to get it? Ana does, and she freely shares her best traffic generation advice that doesn't suck on her Traffic Generation Cafe blog. And don't forget to pick up Ana's 7 Steps to Complete Search Engine Domination free SEO report while you are at it - stop hoping for more search engine traffic and go get it!

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{ 49 comments }

QM

I watched that show when it first came out. What always amazed me was how the business owners would fight Ramsey. A guy who owns multiple restaraunts and is successful with all of them.

That says a lot.

Ana | Traffic Generation

I’d say it’s in our nature for sure. We are all stars in our eyes and let anyone dare to prove us wrong.

Wilson

I hated that too about the show. I mean c’mon he’s trying to help you succeed, and he’s like the best coach you can have right now. Be appreciative!

I really love his tough love though, you know it’s his passion coming out, he’s not trying to be a dick or something. Even though that’s probably how some see it.

Jo

Well i think, they have to fight him.

1st: Because if they wouldn’t fight him, they would be successful, because hey most things he says you could see ourself…

2nd: Would you watch the show if they would just do what he told them? Maybe one or two shows, but it wouldn’t be as interesting as it is if they fight him…we should always take into consideration that a lot of things a scripted in the Television world…

Hreat Articel by the way…

Jason Sandeman

Love it! Gordon Ramsey is a star in my world. (Cooking) I can see that I need to get off my ass and just do it, in that order. Who knew that Kitchen Nightmares could be translated to blogs?
Perhaps a new show called, “Blogging Nightmares?”

Ana | Traffic Generation

LOL, Jason.

I am with you – the guy is a cooking genius and makes great reality TV.

Since I love watching him, thought I’d at least make it more productive and turn it into a post.

callum

Thats a great idea Jason. I would actually be up for getting a a blogging nightmares done. Would actually be a good idea for a niche site ha ha. As long as the blogger was as critical as Gordon Ramsey..

So

LOL Blogging Nightmares I will use that in a series for my blog! hahaha
I run a Personal Finance blog in spanish, and I used Gordon Ramsay reference in managing money :) He is great in that sense. It is a shame that the spanish audience is so hard! not in criticism, but in traffic. :(
Best!

Ana | Traffic Generation

Well, look at all those ideas flowing!

@Callum – you should see some of the blog audits I do; sometimes, I make people cry…

callum

Lol i genuinely think “blogging nightmares” would be a great success. Maybe gordon ramsey could do a guest post!

I had a look Ana, yeah they’re in a fair bit of depth… Not sure I’d be so up for one now don’t wanna cry… just joking! I’m gonna keep an eye on them they’re pretty cool and useful.

W. Michael Hsu

Love it. I do think many business run into fear at step 4 – most are taught to take on whatever they can especially when times are tough – the whole “I cannot afford to be picky” mentality. It’s a hard but necessary step. I did hear that Chef Ramsey has a book that’s coming out – now I am interested in reading it. Thanks for sharing.

Ana | Traffic Generation

Being “picky” is the only way to succeed long-term, Michael, that’s for sure.

Rob @ Atlanta Real Estate

Great post. Good advice.

Tim

Great post, I’m a huge Ramsay fan, I’ve always found it fascinating how his advice was beyond food. Additionally, behind the seemingly rude demeanor and insults he really is pushing you to excel, to reach your limits and accept nothing but your absolute best all of the time. So many people see him as an angry, rude chef and miss the mark with what he is striving for.

Ana | Traffic Generation

I am with you, Tim – all he wants is for someone to succeed. That goes to the heart of any successful blog as well: desire for the readers to benefit.

Kat Karn

Brainstorming, working and building on the look, feel and content end of a blog that itself is part of a startup business – this post gives a nicely detailed overview of how.to.really.get.started.for.real. Just two words – thank you!

Harleena Singh

Interesting post Ana! I especially love the way you have related the post to Ramsay!

Thanks for sharing!

Jean-Luc

Yes, good article
The main problem we face is that we’re 100% inside ou blog, and sometimes unable to see the obvious. Friends can be of a great help

Ana | Traffic Generation

Exactly, Jean-Luc – a little distance can do us a lot of good.

Brenda Svoboda

I couldn’t agree with you more about Chef Ramsay. I even used the same analogy in my new book – almost point for point.

As a former Chef and restaurant consultant I know first hand how much vision and effort it takes to run a successful restaurant. It’s very hard to be objective when your signature dish is no longer cutting it, or if your environment needs refreshing to create a better customer experience. I’ve seen owners literally go down with the ship rather than listen to their customers (or lack of), or the consultants they hire to help.

Whether you run a restaurant or market online be niche it down. I don’t expect to find sushi in a Pakistani restaurant. Nor do I want to see off-topic ads on a blog. Keep both your patrons and website visitors come back by providing consistently good food and great content.

Cheers,
Brenda

Ana | Traffic Generation

Can’t sell a burger to a vegetarian – that’s for sure, Brenda.

Brenda Svoboda

P.S. Please excuse the typos. Computer crashed before I got a chance to edit :)

- BS

Joe

I love the show, nice article. There is so much that can be learned by observing other business markets. Ramsey and his team have a keen eye for scouting out what is wrong and correcting it quickly. I wrote a similar article based around what I saw on Kitchen Nightmares back in January.

John Gilger

Nice article! You make some excellent points.

I watch Hell’s Kitchen more often (my wife doesn’t care for Kitchen Nightmares) and my question is, Do I have to drop as many f-bombs as Gordon does? (said tongue in cheek) :)

Thanks.

John

Ana | Traffic Generation

LOL, John.

I do love Hell’s Kitchen better (just finished watching the latest episode), but it hasn’t inspired me to write a post yet.

If it ever does, it would have to be on copywriting, right? :)

Carlos

I am not very familiar with chef Gordon Ramsay but what I will do is follow your tips. Thanks a lot!!

Ana | Traffic Generation

Knowing who he is just makes the post funnier, but the advice is actionable whether you know who he is or not, Carlos.

Annie Sisk (Pajama Productivity)

Great boil-down, but – ugh, I have a hard time getting past the person himself here. Which, if you think about it, is like lesson #8: Even if you do all the above, but are a complete jerk about it, some people are gonna tune out.

Ana | Traffic Generation

I agree, he is rough around the edges, but in the end, he means well.

Bill Taylor

These ideas communicate the basics of every business. Thanks for sharing with us uncommon ‘common-folks’ who blog.

Tom Watson

I’m alive and I “love it!” (cool tie in)

UpParent

Good advice!
Personally me, I crave for criticism! But I don’t get one. I have a very little traffic, average 20 per day. I plan to market my website/blog some day later, after I improve it. Anybody wants to have a look?

Ana | Traffic Generation

We all have to start somewhere, don’t we?

UpParent

I agree Ana. But I started already 5 years ago and I was active in the beginning, doing seo and ads. Now I don’t start active marketing until I find the way to keep going with articles or some type of activity, which I still didn’t find out (Engaging my audience? – parents – I am working on it.) I have a dilemma in my particular website. I am not obviously blogging, my articles are sort of neutral, and I am afraid my site seems boring. If this is a case I need to reform all my strategies. Any practical advice?

Mark Brethauer

Love it! I am a Pastry Chef and have been in similar situations. Sometimes you have to step back and take a hard look at what you are doing. It’s not easy to be critical of yourself, especially when you have worked so hard to keep your restaurant or (in my case) pastry shop open. The one thing I’ve noticed about Chef Ramsey is that he really cares.

Chef Ramsey is true reality TV. Rock on Chef, you tell it like it is!

Chef Mark

Ana | Traffic Generation

That’s when it’s best to get a second opinion, Mark.

I’ve done it once on my blog – asked my readers what they REALLY thought of the design, content, etc. and got a lot of great feedback.

Peter J. Coburn

Thanks for the insight. Like my Dad would say, “If it’s too hot in the kitchen, get out!” … gotta go… I’m busy cookin’ up a storm ;-)

Martin

Great analogy Ana. I think it is easy for us to lose site of the things outside our core interests and competencies but which we need to do make our businesses successful.

Chefs love to cook and create more and better recipes but are probably less keen on marketing, relationship building. Bloggers love to write but may be less interested in design, site structure etc.

I guess you’ve got to be an all rounder or focus on your strenghts and outsource the rest.

Ana | Traffic Generation

That’s what blogging is all about, Martin – being a jack of all trades to an extent. Otherwise, be prepared to outsource!

Rodrigo

I think is excelent the Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares comparison with our blogs. Ramsey is incredible, is a very clever guy, he knows what to do always, in every tough situation. He is not only and excelent cheff but a wonderful guide in common sense to achieve objectives in any sense. I think this is a great example to based on in order to improve our blogs monetization and traffic. Great Post!

Kevin

Like it, like it. Maybe this is the post I needed to see to get me back blogging.

Kevin

Joi

Wow. Outstanding post, Ana. The one that struck me the most (because it clearly struck home) was, “The first thing Gordon Ramsay does with a struggling restaurant is reduce the number of items on their menu.”

Guilt to the -ty!

I’ve been knocking the idea of cutting back on the number of websites/blogs I have (12, she admits, sheepishly). When I read those words, I knew my decision had been made.

Great article and another example of why I read every single word of every single post that’s published on this blog.

Thanks for the time you put into this great article!

Ana | Traffic Generation

Wow, Joi! 12!

Here’s a million dollar question (well, almost): would you rather make $100 per month from each of your 12 sites or $1200 per month from one site?

Susan Pomeroy

I too watch Kitchen Nightmares, and find a lot to learn from in Ramsay’s process. One of the most interesting things to me is that quite often, it’s the owner’s attachment to something they feel is “theirs” — a yucky specialty, a 300-page menu, lasagna made with canned sauce, naan bread served hanging on a hook — that keeps the restaurant mired in disaster. The owner is clinging to what they know, what they like, or to an old habit of doing things.

Much of Gordon’s work involves getting the owner to open their eyes, get rid of their ego and really look at reality… and be truly willing to embrace change. So now the biggest question I ask myself when things aren’t working is… what am I “attached” to, or blind to, or so used to I can’t imagine changing? How am I the biggest obstacle in my own way?

Ana | Traffic Generation

Definitely a great question to ask ourselves, Susan – thanks for the insight!

Genevieve Atkinson

Great post and good analogy – got me thinking.
I think maybe we need some shouting & swearing around here to get people motivated.

Grady Pruitt

My brother will love this when he sees it (if he hasn’t already… Which I’m not sure if he has, since I haven’t seen him comment here…) He’s a big Ramsey fan, and I think I’ve seen him do a similar type of post where he relates Ramsey to blogging (or at the least, having a website).

Personally, my biggest kick in the rear is number 5, though I could probably benefit from going through all of them. Thanks for the great post, Ana!

Rosemary O'Shaughnessy

Hi Ana,

I really liked this post and I have to say I do not watch Mr Ramsey but the business advice is very good. It is so important to observe see what our customers want and then repeat the process if it is working. All the best and thanks Rosemary

Al

I’m a huge Gordon Ramsey fan and always hang on every strategy he uses to help restaurant owners. The comparison to blogging is most interesting. Thanks so much for the marketing advice, great stuff, Anna