4 Steps to Beat Any Niche Website at Content Marketing

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4 Steps to Beat Any Niche Website at Content Marketing

My clients ask the same thing your clients ask, “How can I be number one in the rankings?”

I know the answer.

In fact, I can tell you not only how to win at search (where I learned my strategy) but also how to win in any area including content marketing, social media marketing, inbound marketing, and in any niche online. Many marketers will swear you can’t guarantee a top ranking. That’s just not true – it just requires work. 

4 Steps to Winning at Social Media Marketing

4 Steps to Winning at Social Media Marketing (Source: Bill Belew)

The Strategy to Win at Content Marketing

Step 1 – Quantity

Do a search on the key-word phrase/s that is important for your campaign to find out who comes up number one. Visit that site and count how many pages the website you want to beat has on that key-word phrase. Now, do more pages/posts, relevant and focused about that key-word phrase on your website than your competitor does and you will eventually beat them in the SERPs. For goodness sake, don’t stop reading. Search engines cannot make subjective determinations on what content matter or which style or writing is good or better. Search engines can, however, count. More is more and more pages/posts on a key-word phrase will win out provided you follow the next three steps.

Step 2 – Quality

There are more than 200 parameters that can go into a ‘perfect’ page. We also know pages that are over-optimized are not so perfect after all. I have learned that there are about 10 things that you can do that will get you 90-95 percent of the results you desire. Work the 10.

Get these factors right:

  • Your titles
  • Your keyword density.
  • Your post and page length
  • Your originality (don’t over-quote).
  • Your images with captions and descriptions.
  • Your link strategy (internal, external, and back).
  • The balance between timely and timeless articles.

In just 3+ months my students EACH in their chosen niche, and some of my small business clients went from zero to an average of 4,000 unique search visits and more than 10,000 page views by working the 10. You can see the actual results of the students at Top Students by Unique Visitors, Page Views, Search Results in Inbound Marketing University.

Step 3 – Consistency

Go back to that website you want to beat and look back over a few months in their archives. Add up the number of posts and calculate how often their site is updated. Once a day? Twice a week? More? Less? Doesn’t matter. Once you determine how often your competitor updates his/her site, update yours more often. The more often you make real updates to your site, the more often the bots will check your site out. The more often the bots crawl your site the more likely the bot is to think, (if bots could think), “I’d better stick around this site ‘cuz it keeps changing” which equals better search results. Consistently update your site with quality content.

Step 4- Longevity

If your competitor’s site has been around longer than yours you obviously cannot go back in time and create a longer presence. You can, however, catch up in pace and excel at putting up a larger quantity of quality posts and stay with it longer going forward. Make no mistake, everyone gets tired. I get tired. You get tired. Your competitor gets tired. ‘Life’ gets in the way, sites go down, divorce and unhappiness happens. Disruptions occur and your competitor will get tired. When your competitor gets tired, don’t get tired. Simply outwork them.

In Summary

Put up a lot of good stuff that is focused and formatted correctly, do it often and stay with it and you will beat your competitor.

The number one reason why most businesses and web sites fail is because the business owners give up before their idea catches on. Don’t give up.

I am pretty sure I could beat Walmart or any other ginormous business no matter how many pages they have on a key-word phrase with the same strategy. It’d just be harder.

One of my recent students sells custom cutting boards. Who cares, right? She cares. She nailed it (record sales) over Christmas even she had NEVER ever sold a product online before then. Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Macy’s and the like were looking UP to her in the SERPs. because she applied the above strategy. She also told me yesterday she is still selling in January despite having never having sold anything before in January either.

The strategy works. It is pretty simple: if you work it works – but it’s still work.

(Images owned by Bill Belew)

Bill Belew
Professor, Speaker, Author, blogger, all-around old man. Having taught a full 48-hour MBA course in Marketing with Social Media at a graduate school in Silicon... Read Full Bio
Bill Belew
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  • Thanks for this great article. Your post really inspire me to post more frequently. I will do that and let you know my results.

  • Bill Belew

    Thanks for the kind words, Pramad. I really do wan to hear about your results. I *know* they will improve.


  • Great article, Bill! I’ll continue to hit the publish button.

  • Bill Belew

    Thanks, Tyler. There might be an easier way but if there is it escapes me.


  • Bill, you absolutely nailed it. A simple formula, indeed. Not necessarily easy, but simple. Google absolutely loves big sites with lots of pages. Challenge now is that you can’t simply churn content, it absolutely HAS to be quality content. Quality, by the way, is not what you say it is … it’s what your audience says it is. Your audience will be scoring the quality of your content with engagement … comments, shares, likes, etc. Nobody cares if YOU think the content is high quality. The measuring stick for quality content is engagement, plain and simple.

  • Bill Belew

    Thanks for the kind words, Bill. The Bills know, eh?

    Re: Quality – I have learned that there are 220 some odd parameters that go into determining quality from a search engine’s point of view.. Through lots of trial and error, I have learned that there are 10-ish that will give you 90-95% of the desired results you want. And those 10 are all reader focused. I will dive into them in future articles. Thanks for reading.


  • Bill,

    I attended one of your meetups and you taught these principles. I wanted to let you (and your readers) know, it works. My visitors really increased and I went up on the rankings. The hard part is doing a lot of posts, but I’ll keep at it.

    Thanks for sharing and I look forward to your next article.

  • Bill Belew


    You are living proof that getting good traffic is not the result of understanding the science of SEO but knowing when to put your head down and work hard and put out good stuff that real people want to read.

    Thanks for reading.


  • Thanks a lot Bill, that was a great article. People sometimes forget a major ingredient to success is hard work and persistence.

  • Bill Belew

    Thanks, Cameron.

    Important to know is how hard is hard, how good is good, how often is often and how long is long. I will dive into those specifics in future columns.

    Thanks for reading.


  • Thanks a lot Bill!

    Noticing this things and sharing them to people like us is a really great job! I am striving to compete with other niche websites on the pedicure chair niche, but it seems like I can’t do the right thing. With these things you posted, I think I can get it right now.

    This is really a great post!


  • Jimmy

    Hi Bill,

    I know you won’t publish this comment, but I would like you to know that I consider this article as pure content spam. It doesn’t provide anything useful to users and the funny part is it actually instructs others to write content spam as well!

    None of your 10 quality steps actually tries to provide users any valuable information. Well optimized long article is not automatically quality if there is nothing important or useful you’re saying. It’s content spam.

    Here’s a nice article that might actually be useful to you and your readers: http://www.seo-theory.com/2014/02/10/what-does-content-spam-mean/

    • Bill Hatems

      I thought the article was pretty good. The article combined both working hard to create good content and how then to get that good content to the top. Google should thank Bill for doing their job for them.
      I did love your extensive seo dictionary, but I think you are missing a definition for comment spamming and using controversy to lead others from a nicer blog to your blog. Great definitions on these phrases too.
      Link Spammer

  • Yes i agree. Great tips. But is it possible to create quantity of content yet with quality. I think for a single weblogger it is very difficult to keep all things going. Now a days it is better to run a weblog with a team of bloggers, for doing all stuff with consistency, even you are doing it small. In the end i agree with you whatever the case do not give up.

  • Bill Belew


    It depends on your goals whether this is a one person job or not. For the first couple of years of my blogging life I could not afford a team. I created well over 5,000 articles (probably more) and generated well over 2,000.000 uniques via search just by keeping my head down. In future posts I will show you some of the successes of my students as well.


  • In step 2 you mentioned there are 10 points. Do you share all 10 of those points somewhere?

    • Good Catch Neil! Interested to see the full formula as well.

      • Keep reading Chris, Neil. I will get to them in time.


  • Bill Belew

    @Neil, I will dive in to those ten points in future articles here. In the meantime, most everything I talk about is available at my home site – http://www.billbelew.com

    Thanks for reading!


  • David

    I read your post and thought, wow I can take a lot from this and really use it to help grow my current and future sites I work on. So I did some basic keyword research and tried to really look through the recent posted content that some of the top ranked web pages have posted. To be honest all the sites on the first 2 pages don’t even have a blog or anything similar. What am I missing, is it age of domain, backlinks. If content is king, how do they have such high rankings?

  • I like it how you explained about “Consistency”. I do realize now how important to update your own website with your own content.

  • Bill Belew


    I don’t know what your keyword phrase is but I do know I had a student who added a blog to an existing site in August of last year. She is also a small business owner. By November she and her husband 2-man show was on the front page ahead of Macy’s and Bed Bath and Beyond and other competitors. She nailed it over Christmas as well.

    A little more detail and maybe I can be more specific with your case. You can reach me via one of the social networks or my web site.

    Bill Belew

  • Bill Belew


    Please see my comment to David. Pedicure chair is a two-word phrase. What’s a third and fourth word that you might add that would further distinguish you? Who is your competitor? How often do they update compared to you?

    You can win in this niche, but sometimes it is harder.

    Thanks for reading.


  • Bill Belew


    At last a contrarian. Welcome. I think it was General Patton who said, “If everyone in the same room is thinking the same thing, then somebody isn’t thinking.” Glad to see you are thinking. Too bad you can’t read as well.

    Quality by definition is NOT spammy content. Original content is NOT spammy content. Content that is on Topic and makes a contribution is NOT spammy content. Content that appeals to real readers first is NOT spammy content.

    You got your link … but I’ll be doggone if there is anything in your article that is new. In the article you reference “your content is spammy if it’s not saying anything new .” Hmmm…. Tell me what is the definition of spammy comments or link fishing in the comments.

    Thanks for reading.


  • If we post more and more content on daily basis then will it not become the spamming?

  • To those who complain that there is nothing new in this article, I think you missed the point. If you’re looking for a new magic trick to beat competitors in search engine rankings, I can understand your disappointment, but truth is, there is no magic trick – there is just had work.

    I would take exception to the thought that keyword density is one of the top ten steps for optimizing content. This makes it sound like there is a magic percentage, or certain number of times to include your keyword. Used to be the case, but not anymore. Still, maybe you meant to include it in the title, URL and at least once in the content.

    Biggest takeaway: stop looking for an easy fix and do the work (or hire someone else to do it!).

  • @Himanshu, As long as your content is adding something it is not spammy. Saying the same things over and over again is spam.

    Original content is making a contribution to your niche. If you don’t have something new or interesting to give, then it is better to not hit publish.

    Thanks for reading.


  • @Alisa,

    You are spot on – hard work is the magic bullet.

    Re; Keyword density – my take is not getting the percentage right but listening to you gut. If you are trying to get a certain phrase across, it makes sense to mention it. But when you are done writing, read your content out loud and if it sounds to you like you are repetitive and using the same phrase too many times, you are. I want to avoid being dense and just write …. but there is that idea that there is a little robot sitting on my shoulder asking – will I be able to find this later? Please real people first and foremost; be sensitive to the robot on your shoulder and you will get the density right. Make sense?

    Thanks for reading?


    • Hehe, I try to avoid being dense when I write, too! 🙂

      Yup, that makes sense. “Keyword density” as a term has an old-school connotation that implies numbers are more important than ease of reading. Clearly that’s not what you’re advocating.

      I appreciate the reply!


  • @Alisa,

    Too many content creators forget that their ‘key words’ appear in the headings and widgets and comments and related posts and other areas on the page. There really doesn’t need to be a focus on density at all, just a sensitivity. If a content provider writes naturally and stays on topic = remembers their tagline, the rest will take care of itself.

    Please real people first.

    Thanks again, for reading.

    BTW, my next article comes out today. I welcome your input on that, too.


  • Well, you keep on talking about the “Work the 10” witch 10 do you mean? have i missed something in the article?
    Thank for those 4 steps anyway 😉

  • I just laughed when I saw your top 10. I have doing them for the last 1 and half prior to me reading this. I will say it works. So Btw does that make me an seo expert.. Lol.. Great job.

  • @John,

    The ’10’ are in the post under quality.

    @ Joe,
    If you do them long enough, you will be an expert at staying focused = SEO expert in my book.

    Thanks for reading.


  • Oh, well, i see em now, i was eager for more tips i guess, Thanks for the list and i will keep em in mind.

  • @John,

    Here’s a tip. Not trying to be facetious – stay focused on the 10 instead of looking for more tips.

    Those key considerations will give you 90-95% of the results you desire.

    Looking outside of them will cost a lot of time with little to show for it long term.


  • I have found that less frequent posting with much higher quality leads to greater visitors. Maybe its just me, but I have articles that rank well on Google for competitive terms that I put weeks into crafting super high quality and promotion (plus design). I don’t get to publish this very often, but they get 100x the traffic of a standard top ten post that doesn’t teach anyone anything.

  • Great little infographic that can be explained to clients easily!

  • @Justin… Thanks!


  • @Ryan,

    If a post doesn’t teach anybody anything, it should NOT be published.

    Making a contribution – adding to the discussion is the criteria.

    How do you know you can get 10X? 10X what? Have you tried it the other way? Do you have analytics to support this statement?

    Thanks for reading.


  • Ozjon

    You have great tips for writing content.

    I think it is true that many give up before they actually commit right to the end.

    One other strategy these days that is extremely important whenever a new site is launched is that there has to be a referring website with authority. Without a referring website the site will not move anywhere near 1 st page. On-page and a few off-page link optimization is a great way to push sites into the arena.

    However, those 10 elements for page optimization really works.


  • @Ozjon,

    There are two great ways to make that happen.

    1. Ask the person in the room next to you – physically – to give you a shout.
    2.Ask someone on line – virtually – that you have been following and respect to do the same.

    Thanks for reading.


    • Thanks Bill for your feedback.

  • Hey Bill,

    Michael here from Malaysia. Awesome. I wrote down the points and will start working on it.

    Great inspiration to write more quality relevant content and share it out.

    This might seems simple, but doing it will be a different thing.

    I always tell people marketing online is like investing in a stock market, you need to be willing work and take risk and work until you be at the top.

    thank you again.

    • Michael,

      Come see me when I am in Singapore the end of May beginning of June and we’ll talk about how to be thought leaders in Malaysia.


  • What you are suggesting here sort of flies in the face of conventional SEO wisdom – “search engines rank pages, not websites.” If each page is its own unique entity, I just have to wonder how this causes a website to rank better for a keyword phrase. Which page concentrated on the keyword phrase ranks better? Is it just one of them, all of them or the home page of the website?

    Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not doubting your methodology or that this works. I’m just a little confused as to why it works and what specifically changes in the results.

    • Scott,

      That is a loaded question,

      Each post does become it’s own page. But because it is linked to a hundred (1000+) other pages that are different/unique but in its own web (web site)… that page/post will rank.

      Does this make sense?


  • I can’t see the forest for all the trees. It seems that we need reminder articles such as this one to point out the basics that one seems to pass by in time. Thanks for the article, back to the roots..

    • Ralph,
      It is not something new that is going to change the world … it’s something old. The basics.

      Thanks for reading.


  • Wow interesting!


    QQCL – the formula sounds easy but takes lots of effort to see results.

    Thank you for writing.

    • Vivian,

      I find that I can tell most people everything I know but they still can’t do it. It’s hard work … but it works.

      Thanks for reading!


  • Thank you, great inspiration. What’s your opinion about outsourcing the article writing, instead of spending huge amount of time for this task? I find it pretty convenient, although the quality is not that good with every post.

    In the end – is it about quality or quantity?

    • Shay,

      It doesn’t matter who writes the material as long as the quality and focus is there.

      Interesting question – This is the topic of my next article – coming out on 3/27.

      Neither needs to be sacrificed at the expense of the other.

      Thanks for reading.


  • Wing Tsun Berlin

    Without Links nothing happens! lol

  • Bill,

    If you want one landing page to rank higher, should you keep updating and expanding that landing page? Or should you create more posts that have that keyword in it and internally link to the landing page you want to rank higher? I was a little unclear on which strategy you were recommending.

    Also, thank you for writing this post. It’s a nice reminder that most things from SEO to losing weight are easy to know how to do, but it’s those who actually do the work that see the results.