The number of hyperlinks to your website from other websites with good ratings and related topics help improve your search engine ranking when people are searching for the product or service your business provides, using your keywords.
You may have gotten some e-mails recently, asking you if you’d like to have links to your website added to several well-ranking websites. If you visit those websites, the offer looks good for you. But then the e-mail says to send them your website linking info (url and brief description of your business product or service), and they will send you the info on the site they want you to link to. If you respond, many of these offers ask you to post links on your website to low ranking sites with products or services that you probably wouldn’t even visit yourself, much less recommend to your website visitors.
Indirect link exchanges, i.e., several sites exchanging links but not directly with each other, can result in better ranking if the sites have good content on related topics, and are ranked in about the same range. The ranking boost can be even better than direct link exchanges.
But getting visitors to your website is only part of your concern;
if you have links to websites that you are not very proud of on your website, for your visitors, link exchanges like this can be hurting your business rather than helping it.