As the Penguin 4.0 update prepares to sweep the web, SEO experts brace for the impact this update could potentially have on their campaigns, links, and overall web traffic. The talk of this update has been in the works for months and was anticipated to go live back in 2015, but was pushed to 2016 due to the holidays. The word on the street is that it could go live as early as this month.

SEO experts are bracing for this update due to what the original Penguin update did to the web back in April 2012. In 2012, Penguin 1.0 hit 3.1% of U.S./English queries (37.2 billion search queries) for using “black hat SEO techniques.” This update put an end to link schemes that were being used to spam search results. By the time Penguin 2.0 and 3.0 went live, online markers had realized the importance of getting rid of inorganic links, but the sting that was left by the 1.0 update still lingers with every update.

“The original Penguin update was a real game changer away from the old link spam techniques that plagued the industry. In short, the days of automated, paid and spam links were over,” says Brad Pitzl, SEO Manager at Intertwine Interactive.

Can I prepare for the Penguin 4.0 update?

With another Penguin update on the horizon, is there anything that can be done to prepare for it? There are actually a number of things you can do beforehand to avoid potential problems the update may cause your website. One of the most important steps to take is to monitor your backlink profile. There are a number of software applications that can aid in the review of your backlink profile. Some of the most popular ones include Ahrefs, Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer.

“The best way to prepare for a Penguin update is to monitor the backlinks that come into your site. Staying on top of spam links will save you time and help you avoid a disaster,” says Pitzl.

My website was hit by the update—what now?

If you realize that your website has been affected by the update, it is important to manually remove bad links that are listed on unrelated domains or spam websites. You can remove the bad links by contacting the webmaster of a particular website and making a request to remove the link. Another way to clean up your backlink profile is to disavow the toxic link. By disavowing a bad link, Google will not count it when it comes time to determine page rank.

“The best way to recover from an update is to do a complete backlink audit where you review each link. You will then want to use Google’s disavow tool to remove low quality links from the links that Google looks at when ranking your site,” says Pitzl.