I have a friend who works for a very highly regarded SEO firm. This company charges $1,000 just to evaluate your site.
Anyway from what he is saying, i should take any link page i have off my site and no longer do any time of link exchanges. I should focus 100% on content exchanges such as writing articles. They have completely removed all of the link pages from their customer's websites.
The reason for this was google recently changed they way the rank sites. Any link on a page with other outgoing links will be devalued. This is to keep the searches more relevant as some companies are achieving first page status simply because of backlinks on link exchanges and not through the natural process.
Another thing they are doing is converting every blog post into articles on the websites. As blogs have also been recently devalued. It is better to have a nice article on your site than a blog post with a backlink.
Take this how ever you want. Although we did eliminate all link and blog pages on our site and have no outgoing links and we have seen significant boost in ranking in google for our key terms over the last 5 days.