MarieHaynes - 3:01 pm on Sep 9, 2013 (gmt 0)
The process is definitely frustrating.
I am not impressed with any of the tools that are out there to find bad backlinks. I have reviewed a good number of failed reconsideration requests from site owners who have used tools and quite often the links that are marked as "healthy" are not. I think that you could use the tool as a start as most of the links that are marked as toxic or suspicious really are bad ones but then you've really got to go through the remaining links by hand to determine whether there are still unnatural ones in there.
This job (for each reconsideration request) requried hiring a special team to go a link by link (approximately 3000 unique domains) to determine if they are good or not. (meterics were: overall website design (its looking like a real site?) , content quality, link position, link is looking natural?)
I am guessing that unnatural links were probably missed in this process. Did this team have experience in auditing link profiles? I find that when people first start trying to audit backlinks the lines of what "looks natural" get blurred. There are many links where a site owner believes looks natural but Google knows that the link was created with the intention of manipulating a site's position in the search engine results. For example, I've seen site owners try to hold on to article syndication links, widespread guest post links and directory links that were obviously made for SEO purposes.
An unnatural link does not necessarily have to come from a spammy looking page. I've had clients that had been dealt their unnatural links penalties for too many blogroll links (i.e. mostly reciprocal) from sites that were high quality, or from what most people would call high quality guest posting.