Four games into his second spell at Spotland, Hill guided Dale to their first win of 2013 as Rhys Bennett's 18th-minute effort proved enough to sink the struggling Gulls.
Bennett side-footed home from close range after Michael Poke had saved his initial shot. By that stage Torquay had already wasted their best chance of the afternoon, gifted to former Rochdale loanee Rene Howe after a slip by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff.
The defender's mistake gave the striker a clear run at goal but Josh Lillis foiled his attempted chip and after that the visitors struggled to break down a resolute Rochdale rearguard.
"To generate belief in what we are trying to achieve and what we are doing on the training pitch you need results," said Hill.
"We are turning an idea into a good idea by picking up results like that.
"We looked quite solid apart from the mistake that Shane made early on in the game and I'm pleased that we have kept a clean sheet again.
"It's great to get three points on the board because it generates a snowball effect in terms of building belief and a bit of fear factor among the opposition as we go into the next game that we can win matches."