Tangor, I'd love to hear more about how you're paring your approach back.
And of course anyone else who's moved popular content.
Always the visitor first, any consideration for search engines is a distant third or fourth. What makes the user happy will make an SE happy. My approach? No games, and all spiffy bells and whistles are reduced to a minimum. And I disbelieve 112% (sic) of what G tells me in GWT (for example) Twenty-percent of "best practices and SEO tricks" are of value, the rest is smoke up my skirts.
I would NEVER remove ANY content which brings traffic to the site/domain, even if it is not an immediate target for commercial conversion. Rule One: Eyeballs on the site
. Without that you have nothing. So, any popular page that gets them to example.com is the gateway... What needs be done from THAT PAGE (and each and every page that so qualifies as "popular" but which is not a sales page
) is including obvious and reasonable
links to the commercial side AS IT APPLIES.
No magic, just good marketing and good salesmanship to get the visitor to click through to the commerce side. That will only happen if they're ready in the first place. Aside: if your article is so complete they have no need to go further than you might want to redo that... that's the salesmanship thing. I believe it was P. T. Barnum who once said "Leave them wanting more." And that MORE should be your commerce pages. Tough balance to write the articles to make the SE love the info side, but the page is strong enough to lead to the commerce side. It can be done, and many accomplish this. I can't teach it (won't as a matter of fact) but the concept is sound, has been proven in business for at least a few hundred years, and not even g or the other SEs can change that. It's human nature. Find that balance to make the ka-ching ring. But for that to happen you FIRST have to have eyes on page.. and your articles are doing that already. Take the next step.
Truth be told, this works for me about 70% of the time (same situation as you). Thirty-percent are lookieloos with no intention of buying. Sigh. That 100% just seems destined to never happen. Until I took P. T. Barnum's philosophy to heart about 10 years back that conversion rate would have been closer to 35%.
While this is NOT web specific, it is a good example of what I do: