...and included 4-5 contextually and topically relevant links "to let the engines know what the site is about" and ranked in the top 20 on that alone!
I've done that with a couple of article pages, sort of "priming" them for google before I get a chance to write good content for them.
They ranked well once I got the content put up on them. They don't convert though... but they RANK well!
Also, it MIGHT be a good way to battle some of the low quality ehow pages and other stuff of that ilk.
My main "widgets" ecommerce page was being outranked by an ehow article. Much of the info they used they basically stole from me. They cited my site without giving a link (or maybe it was a nofollow link - can't remember now).
So I started a page that was a "how to" article that was designed to compete with that ehow article. Except I didn't have time to write it out so well. So, I basically linked out to other sites first, and then after a month or so, filled in the rest of the content.
while this page didn't rank really well itself, it did "knock out" the ehow article that was ranking above my ecommerce page - the page that I really want traffic to go to.