Google has stopped punishing JC Penney for manipulating search results, engineer Matt Cutts has confirmed.
In February, Google manually demoted Penney in search results because it discovered the company had been using so-called “black hat” search engine optimization tactics, like creating fake Web pages with thousands of links back to Penney sites.
In a Web chat today summarized by Search Engine Land, Cutts confirmed that the penalty lasted only 90 days.
Cutts also said that Google is rolling out its “Panda” anti-spam project internationally. Right now, it works only for English-language results, but it will move beyond English “maybe in the next couple of months.”
Panda was meant to weed out results from content farms like Demand Media, but had only mixed results: some content farms like Mahalo were slammed, but Demand says the change didn’t really hurt it. Meanwhile, Panda inadvertently affected some small businesses and other kinds of listings.
He also said that there would be no manual exceptions to Panda — if enough companies complain, Google will continue to tweak the algorithm, but it won’t let individual sites sneak through.