SEO - how important are links to a site

I get a lot of requests to exchange links with other websites for the sites I manage. I have never done this. How important is this. Surely Google realsises that people put up links purely for optimization
Murray BrownMicrosoft Cloud Azure/Excel Solution DeveloperAsked:
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If the other sites that want to exchange links with you are related to yours then why not exchange links with them?  They could send you traffic that you're looking for as well as you to them.  I think that's why people exchange links, it's not because it helps their google rank...although that may be the intention of some.
Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
After checking their pages, I have turned down all requests for link exchanges because, so far, they were all scams.  Typically they claim to have put up a link to your page and sometimes they even give you a link to see it.  Trouble is, if you go to their homepage, there is no link to get to that page so no one will ever see your link on their site.

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Links on other sites will help you only if it is on a respected website that has been around for a while such as a university or CNN.  These scams are solely trying to help their search engine ranking
Murray BrownMicrosoft Cloud Azure/Excel Solution DeveloperAuthor Commented:
Thanks very much for the advice
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