A month ago we asked Do Link Tools Help Find Your Really Toxic Links? The results were not awesome but I figured I keep looking and give it another shot.
Googler Aaseesh called out another link that is causing a site to have a penalty in the Google Webmaster Help forums. So I ran the site with Majestic SEO and downloaded all the backlinks that tool discovered. It did find the link in question in the thread.
So then I ran that report through Link Research Tool's Link Dtox tool and it showed that the specific link called out by Google as being a paid link was actually a "Very Low Risk" link according to the tool.
If you look at the specific page with the link on it in question, it does look like a paid article.
Google's Aaseesh said in the thread:
For example, on http://www.justluxe.com/community/science-and-technology-news-with-a-luxury-look-and-feel_a_1863626.php, there is a link to http://www.planettechnews.com/ that looks like it may be a paid advertisement without preventing search engines from following the link.
When you can confirm that backlinks to your site are no longer unnatural, you can file a reconsideration request.
So can automated tools really help with manual Google penalties? I'll keep testing as these public scenarios come up.
Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.