My site is within a financial niche. This is what I have done:
-I studied closely the top competitors in my niche using SEMrush and Ahrefs. I looked at which sites got the most traffic for the keywords I want to rank for as well as what keywords they were bidding on with Google Adwords. I also sorted the data via most similar sites and noticed the top sites had certain qualities in common, I put this into a brief.
-I then paid a professional designer to mockup a much more beautiful version of the site based on these characteristics. She worked for a local newspaper and is a friend of mine so I got it done cheaply. I knew immediately her design was about ten times better than the previous version. My site is on Wordpress but the developer made some custom changes to the theme.
-I used the Screaming Frog SEO tool to generate a report and then an XML sitemap. The sitemap will have helped my site get indexed quicker.
-I discovered from SEMrush and Screaming Frog SEO my hpages had no H1 tags, Meta tags or Meta descriptions. i quickly read up on how these are written properly and the recommended word limits and added them to my site.
-I already had quite a few backlinks of varying quality but read that many of my backlinks may not have been indexed themself. What I did is use AHrefs to import all the backlinks to an excel spreadsheet. I then took this excel spreadsheet and went to Linklicious, which is an indexing site and pinged all my backlinks using their tool.
-I got someone to submit a press release to a number of high PR news sites. I wrote the press release myself, ensured it was a real article and not just a spun piece of crap with keyword stuffing. I included the top ten keywords within the article but it was written properly and makes sense. The person was actually from Fiverr and if you PM me I will tell you who it is.
-I submitted to a number of high PR directories. I did some manually, but again also used someone from Fiverr to make a larger number of manual submissions.
-I have some web 2.0 properties. In the riskiest strategies I got someone to run a GSA campaign to the web 2.0 properties to give it an extra tier of juice whilst not linking directly to the site to make it safe, as well as passing it through Owly to create an extra layer of safety.
Now I cannot say for sure which one of these has had an effect but checking in Ahrefs my site has jumped up 4.5 million places in the AHrefs ranking and it has exponentially gone up, bit by bit.
And I am not even ranking in the top ten for any of my target keywords. So this it, I have seen it work, it's taken time and research as well as doing it.
There's a lot more I can do, and now I need to figure out what to do next to take it to the next level. My site converts well and I can easily be making a few hundreds USD a day once I rank in the top 10 for a number of KWs.
An added bonus is that it converts too via PPC traffic, and I'll be running a Bing PPC campaign on it soon as well.
So there you have it, if I can do it you can do it too