Is your WordPress website legal? Do you know if you are breaking any rules or regulations, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any 3rd-party companies whose services or products you are recommending or selling?
Online laws are designed to protect consumers and apply to any person who markets, sells or promotes goods and services online. Anyone who owns a website risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about legal requirements won’t protect you from being slapped with a legal notice.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their websites clearly state that if you plan to promote anything on your site for profit, then you need to follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory departments, such as the US-based BBB, or Better Business Bureau. Do a search online for “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet to learn more.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program)
The introduction of these laws affect several online business activities, including:
- Any type of advertising, including Google AdSense
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creation
You may also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to legal action.
In this article, we look at why it’s important to have a compliant website and how to quickly and easily add all necessary legal pages to your WordPress website.
Does Your Website Or Blog Comply With The Law?
Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we cannot offer legal advice in this article. You must carry out your own due diligence and we recommend consulting legal experts about the best way of ensuring that your website is compliant with all laws and regulations wherever your business is based.
Why Making Your Website Compliant Is Important
Are you at risk? Consider what the implications to your business would be if these situations were to take place:
- A user suffers a heart attack after they use your online fitness workout.
- The skin care products you sell as an affiliate gives a number of users an adverse reaction.
- You’ve informed your subscribers that you won’t sell their information, but you haven’t spelled out exactly what you’ll do with it.
- Someone steals your content and publishes it on their website.
- There is no statement on your website informing visitors that you are endorsing a product as an affiliate that you could derive financial benefits if they buy it.
- You haven’t spelled out the terms of your refund/return policies.
- Online visitors claim that your testimonials are false and try to sue you.
- You did not disclose that you were given a free copy in your product review.
- Your website includes adult-related content and you haven’t taken sufficient measures to restrict access by underaged children.
Consider too these actual examples of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling online users they would be required to give up their personal information to complete a debt reduction offer. In addition to a substantial $390,000 fine, they’ve also been ordered to give everyone they do business with for the next 20 years, a copy of the judgement — including employees.
- A social networking app developer was slapped with a whopping $800,000 fine for collecting personal information without users’ knowledge and consent – including storing children’s private information.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits users from scraping UIDs. Many internet marketers gambled that they could get away with it and lost. Their accounts were shut down, resulting thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independent study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites picked at random, more than 90% had breached at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% had broken at least 2 of Google’s policies, and more than 40% had broken at least three of Google’s policies. Although the website owners could technically be sued by Google, more than likely what could happen, is that they would be issued cautions or lose access to the Google program they had infringed, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how you could easily be exposed to the risk of litigation through non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdSense Publisher
- Product Publisher
- Amazon Affiliate
- EBay Seller
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Coach or Consultant
- Online Seller Of Any Product Or Service
It’s vitally important to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your website or blog stays legally compliant.
Compliance With 3rd-Party Companies - ToS, Policies, etc.
All the leading online companies and government trade regulatory agencies emphasize the importance of complying with the terms and policies of service providers.
You are obligated to let your site visitors know that your website complies with all necessary laws and professional guidelines. This not only improves consumer trust and buyer confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of many companies you interact with online.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Google requires you to display legal information if using many of their services or features. This includes Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Monetizing your WordPress sites using Google AdSense …
(Google AdSense advertising - policy requirements)
And even promoting your products or services through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you plan to sell information-based products through places such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant networks, you will be required to add various legal pages before your products are approved for selling via their networks …
(Policy requirements digital product vendors using ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also requires that you display clear disclaimers and disclosures to visitors, especially regarding the use of product testimonials or endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer guidelines and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensuring That Your Website Is Compliant
New FTC regulations governing how business is conducted online were introduced in March 2012. A quick search online will easily reveal that many websites are still unaware (or choose to ignore) these requirements. As is already the case, this typically results in the FTC making an example of businesses and prosecuting site owners for breaches of regulation in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you do any type of business online, therefore, it’s best not to take any chances. Even if your business is not located in the U.S. you should protect your business by making sure that your website complies with FTC guidelines.
Many online resources provide guidelines and examples for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help your business meet FTC requirements. See the additional references and resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(Structure your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of the law)
Social Media Apps Also Require Compliance
If you are planning to create social networking applications that integrate with your website, you will also be required to provide social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and many others with information about various legal pages …
(Facebook apps also require compliance)
- If you are unsure whether or not you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of organizations like Google, Facebook, etc., then assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote anything on your site via affiliate marketing, or generating revenue with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay advertising, or using Google AdWords to drive visitors to your pages, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you need to provide on your site to comply with all Terms Of Service and policy requirements - don’t risk having your accounts suspended.
- If you have ever wondered if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, then it’s best to act now and take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business interests.
What Legal Information Pages Do I Need To Add To My Site To Be Compliant?
If you suspect that your web site lacks in areas of compliance, then you will find this section helpful.
At its most basic, adding the following compliance pages to your website will help your business stay out of trouble with most consumer protection agencies and 3rd-party service providers, and avoid possible legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Privacy Statement
- Terms & Conditions
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the above, you may want to look into including one or more of the pages listed below where applicable:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you sell products or services through an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Links Policy
- Health Disclaimers (if your website or blog provides content about health or medical areas)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Media Terms (if you allow media downloads on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding the right web content disclosure information is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Discloses to your readers that you will not receive compensation for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Lets your readers know that you will derive some form of financial benefit if they act on your recommendation and buy through an affiliate link.
- Review Or Sample Copy – Lets users know that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product you’re writing about by the author or product developer.
- Sponsored Post – Lets your visitors be aware that you were compensated in some way to write the post.
- Third Party Advertising – Lets users know that you’re using online behavioral tracking technology. This is required to satisfy the “enhanced notice” the Better Business Bureau has been requiring online publishers to show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Content To Your Website
Ideally, you will consult your lawyer or a legal firm and ask them to prepare the content of your legal documents. Once this has been created, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Uploading Legal Web Pages To Your Website
If someone prepares the legal content for you in standard web page format (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your server, or have someone upload them for you.
We recommend adding a legal folder to your web server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this folder using FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your web server using FTP)
You can then add a link to your legal pages in WordPress using a custom WordPress menu …
(Custom WordPress Menu)
Displaying Legal Web Pages On Your Site
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are kept up-to-date and clearly accessible to your visitors. You can insert these into your sidebar menu (or place them in the footer section of your website or blog) to ensure that users can access the information from all your pages …
(Display links to legal information on all of your website’s pages)
We have written a detailed tutorial about adding links to pages on your WordPress sidebar and footer using widgets here:
You can find downloadable attorney-drafted forms and agreements by searching online, or by visiting websites like this one:
(Find Legal Forms – Attorney-drafted legal forms)
Alternatively, you can download a package of legal templates designed by attorney Scott Talbert to help businesses protect themselves online …
(Cut & Paste Website Legal Pages)
These legal templates were created by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with a quick search and replace to insert your own business name and URL, then pasted into your pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer: multi-discipline professional disclaimers
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance
- Terms of Service (ToS) & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new WordPress page for each legal form you want to add to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your web pages and publish or upload these to your server as described earlier.
Go here for more details:
Legal Page Plugins
In addition to using templates, another option is to use plugins.
Here are some great plugins for WordPress users you should check out:
(WordPress Legal Pages)
If the idea of creating legal pages manually seems too time-consuming for you, then consider choosing a plugin like WP Legal Pages instead …
WordPress Legal Pages is not a free plugin, but it’s a very affordable and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will help simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your site and save you many headaches.
Some of the benefits of using WP Legal Pages are:
- Built-in Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal page templates created by professional lawyers.
- Very Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of your basic legal pages in around 3 minutes with a few mouse clicks.
- Editable Pages – Full WYSIWYG editor lets you edit legal pages like any WP page.
- Custom Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to any of your WordPress pages and the information will then be automatically inserted into your content when you publish.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple check box and delete and manage these like any other page on your site.
- Forced Options – Force page lockdown. Page unlocks only when user agrees to your legal terms.
- Additional Features – More features are being added to this plugin with each new version.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a menu feature is added to your main navigation menu section …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Menu)
This lets you create, view and edit legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Settings Area)
You can easily create legal pages for different types of sites, such as business websites, affiliate/review sites, AdSense sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages – Create different legal page types)
You can also choose from various pre-configured legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages – Legal Templates)
Legal page templates include:
- Linking Policy
- External Links Policy
- Terms and Conditions
- Refund Policy
- Affiliate Disclosure
- Affiliate Agreement
- Earnings Disclaimer
- Antispam Policy
- DoubleClick DART Cookies Policy
- Disclaimer Template
- FTC Disclosure Statement Template
- Medical Disclaimer Template
- Testimonials Disclosure – As per FTC guidelines
- Amazon Affiliate Disclosure Template
- DMCA Policy Template
- California Privacy Rights Policy Template
- Digital Goods Refund Policy Template
- Blog Comments Policy Template
- Newsletter Subscription Policy and Disclaimer Template
- FTC Disclaimer Widget
To learn more this plugin, go here:
total website compliance & disclaimer solution …
Go here to learn more about this plugin:
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin)
Legal Suite Pro Plugin lets you easily install professionally-written legal pages such as:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance
- Social Media Disclosure
- Medical Disclaimer
- Terms & Conditions
- Earnings Disclaimer
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin For WordPress – Professionally-written legal forms)
- Drag & Drop FTC Disclaimer Widget: Add an FTC Disclaimer to any WordPress sidebar or widget area.
With just one-click you can install almost all of the legal pages your site needs and these professionally written legal pages can be created in your theme and/or as a standalone page outside of your theme.
The plugin developers have packaged high quality, professionally written legal disclaimers into a plugin that can be installed quickly on any WordPress site. Your legal pages can be installed and set up on your site in one minute or less and the license allows you to install and use this plugin on all of your sites (even sites that you decide to sell).
For more information, go here:
If using the services of a lawyer to create your online legal documentation is currently out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some basic form of legal protection on your website until you can afford professional legal services.
We want your website to be legally protected!
Download the Legal Pages Generator software below (it’s FREE!), or choose one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using legal content, or a WordPress plugin - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you make money online, you need to make sure that your website is found to comply with regulatory agencies and the guidelines and terms of service of 3rd-party services and products that you may be promoting or selling online. Your website or blog must comply with a whole set of regulations, some of which you may not be aware of.
Non-compliance puts you at risk of suffering both financial losses and the loss of your reputation. Why risk your money and reputation, when you can protect yourself so inexpensively?
Legal Disclaimer: Once again, please note that we are not lawyers and we cannot provide legal advice here. Do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert to ensure that your website is compliant with all legal requirements concerning your specific business.
Here is a useful list of sites we recommend you visit to help you better understand what your site may require to comply and meet its legal obligations:
- FTC Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- Federal Trade Commission Advertising & Marketing Rules Of the Road
- FTC Advertising And Marketing On The Internet
- Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program
- Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising
- Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act
- CAN-SPAM Act Guide
- Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule
- FTC Regulatory Review Web Page
- FTC Rules and Guides Currently Under Review
- The Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force – Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework
- FTC Staff Report: Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising
- FTC Final Guides Governing Endorsements and Testimonials
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- United States Copyright Office
In Addition …
- Google Analytics Help – Policy requirements for Google Analytics Advertising Features
- Google AdSense Program Policies Explained
- Google AdSense Help – Required Content
- Google AdWords – Information Collection And Use
- ClickBank – Creating Your First Product
- Facebook Platform Policies
We hope this article has helped you understand the importance of having a compliant website. Use the information presented above to quickly and easily add all necessary legal pages to your WordPress website.
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