Linking is the staple of SEO. Reciprocal links, one-way links, directory links, links from article syndication are all part of a well rounded linking campaign.
With the search engines, especially Google, looking for quality and ‘trust-rank’ for sites, choosing high quality link partners is critical.
So how do you choose link partners?
My criteria are:
1) Positive Page Rank (No Grey Tool bar)
2) Low amount of advertising
3) Outgoing links are only within the subject area
4) Incoming links are only within the subject area
While investigating a potential Google penalty, or SERP filter issue on one of my sites, I found this article which covers the topic very well,
In the course of discussing penalties, indiscriminate reciprocal linking among them, they offer this simple advice:
To help identify quality link exchange partners we use a simple but effective test – regardless of indicated Page Rank, if you can’t find a website’s homepage in the top 20 of the Google search results (SERPS) when you search for the first 4 words of a site’s HTML title
This is a simple and quick way of identifying sites that have potential problems with Google and are undesirable link partners.