Is your WordPress website compliant? Do you know if your site is breaking the law, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any companies whose services or products you promote or sell?
As the digital era continues growing at an extraordinary rate and the rules keep changing, it’s vital to stay on top of what’s going on and ensure that your website or blog remains compliant with all laws and regulations, especially if your web presence is important in the success of your business strategy.
New laws introduced in 2014 to regulate how businesses promote advertising on their websites clearly state that if you promote anything on your website for profit, you must follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection departments, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Look up “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet for more details.
(Better Business Bureau – Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program)
The introduction of these new laws has ramifications for several business categories, including:
- Any form of advertising, like Google AdSense
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creators
If your business online is not compliant, you could also end up facing a multitude of penalties, including fines, having your website shut down, even jail time!
The purpose of this article is to help make you aware that your website are subject to legal requirements according to laws that govern your business, the importance of being compliant with the terms of service of 3rd-party providers whose products or services you may be endorsing on your site, and that there are easy solutions that can help your site become more compliant, such as the plugins that we discuss further below.
Does Your Website Or Blog Comply With All Legal Requirements?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we cannot provide legal advice about your website or business. As previously stated, the aim of this article is only to make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal policies in accordance with the laws governing your business and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of third-party companies whose services or products you recommend on your website
Why It’s Important To Make Your Website Compliant
Is your business at risk? Consider for one moment what the implications to your business would be if any of these situations were to take place:
- A user suffers a heart attack after they use your online fitness program.
- The skin care products you sell as an affiliate gives people an adverse reaction.
- Your opt-in list displays a statement letting subscribers know that you won’t sell their information, but you haven’t defined what you plan to do with the details you’ve collected.
- Someone steals content from your website and publishes it on their website.
- You haven’t informed your site visitors that you’re an affiliate for the product you are recommending that you will derive a financial benefit if they buy the product using your link.
- You haven’t spelled out the terms and conditions of your refund policies.
- Your visitors claim that your testimonials are all fake and try to sue you.
- You did not disclose that you were given a free copy in a product review.
- Your site contains adult content and you have not taken appropriate measures to keep underaged persons from accessing it.
Consider now 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 personal information (including credit card details to complete his offer. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer was slapped with a whopping $800,000 fine for collecting personal information without users’ knowledge and consent – including storing private information about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service does not allow users to scrape UIDs. Many marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, resulting thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independently-conducted study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred randomly-chosen websites, more than 90% were breaking at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% had breached at least 2 of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were in violation of 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 with warnings or lose access to the Google program with the violation, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to be exposed to the risks of litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA, CPC or PPA Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdWords User
- Niche Publisher
- Amazon Associate
- EBay Seller
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Coach or Consultant
- Online Seller Of Any Product Or Service
It’s imperative to ensure that your digital presence has the right legal pages and information displayed to site visitors.
Complying With 3rd-Party Services - ToS, Policies, etc.
Compliance with 3rd-party services terms and policies is important.
You are required to let your site visitors know that your business complies will all legal requirements and recommended guidelines. This not only increases trust and confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of most companies you do business with online.
Google requires your site to display certain information when using their services. This includes Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Generating revenue with your websites with Google AdSense …
(Google AdSense advertising policy requirements)
Or promoting your products or services via Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you sell digital products through companies such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant sites, you will need to add certain legal pages to your site before your products can be approved for sale …
(Policy requirements for selling products via ClickBank)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires you to include clear disclaimers and policy statements on your site, especially regarding the use of testimonials or product endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensure That Your Website Is Compliant
New FTC regulations governing the conduct of doing business online were introduced in March 2012. Search online and you will see that many websites are still unaware (or choose to ignore) these requirements. As documented on their website, this typically prompts the FTC to make an example of businesses and prosecute companies for breaches of regulation in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any type of money-making activity online, therefore, it’s best not to take chances. Even if your business is not located in the U.S. it’s best to protect your business interests by ensuring that your site complies with all FTC guidelines.
You can find many business resource sites that can provide guidelines and examples for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help you meet FTC requirements. See the references and useful resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(Word your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Social Media Applications Also Require Compliance
If you plan to develop apps that integrate with your site, you will also be required to provide social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and many others with information about your legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are unsure whether you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of service providers like Google, Facebook, etc., then assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote products or services on your site as an affiliate marketer, or generate revenue with Google AdSense, eBay or Amazon ads, or using Google AdWords pay-per-click ads 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’ve ever wondered whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, most 3rd-party websites require you to comply with their policies and guidelines)
What Compliance Pages Should You Add To Your Website To Be Legally Compliant?
If your website falls short in aspects of compliance, then you will find this section helpful.
At its most basic, adding the following compliance pages to your website should help you stay out of trouble with most regulatory agencies and external providers, and avoid potential legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Terms And Conditions
- Website Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the pages above, you may want to look into implementing one or more of the following pages:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you sell products or services through an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Linking Policy
- Health Disclaimers (e.g. if your website or blog provides general content about health or medical areas)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
- Video/Audio Terms (e.g. if you allow users to download videos or audio files on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding correct disclosure information to your website is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs site users that you are not being paid for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Discloses to visitors that you may benefit financially if they purchase through affiliate links on your site.
- Review/Sample Copy – Lets site users be aware that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product or service.
- Sponsored Post – Informs readers that you have been compensated in some way to write the content.
- 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 website publishers to show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Pages Content To Your Site
Ideally, you will consult lawyers and ask them to prepare the content of your legal documents. Once you have this, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Uploading Legal Pages Manually To Your Website
If someone prepares and delivers the legal content for you as standard web pages (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your web server, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend adding a legals directory to your web server and uploading your legal pages to this directory (e.g. via FTP) …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder on your web server and upload pages using FTP)
You can then add a link to these pages from your WordPress site using a custom WordPress menu …
(Custom WordPress Menu)
Displaying Legal Pages On Your Site
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are fully up-to-date and display clearly to your visitors. You can insert these into your sidebar menu (or place them in the footer of your site) to ensure that visitors have access to the information from every page …
(It’s important to display legal pages to users on all of your website’s pages)
For a detailed tutorial about displaying links to pages on your sidebar or footer, refer to this tutorial:
You can easily find downloadable attorney-drafted disclosures and forms and agreements by searching online, or by visiting websites like the ones listed below:
Go here for more information:
Another option is to purchase a set of cut and paste website legal templates designed by attorney Scott Talbert …
(Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Pages)
These legal templates were created by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with search and replace to add your own business details, then pasted into your web 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 & Conditions of Use: with inter- & intra-page redundancy, Contra Proferentem provision, reservation of rights, and exclusive social media admonition.
You can either create a new page for every legal form you want to add to your site, then paste the content from the templates into your web pages and publish or upload the pages to your web server as described earlier.
Visit this site to learn more:
WordPress Legal Plugins
As well as using templates, another option for adding legal pages to your website is to use WordPress plugins.
Here are some legal plugins for WordPress users that you should check out:
(WordPress Legal Pages)
If you don’t want to spend time creating legal web pages manually, then consider using a plugin like WordPress Legal Pages instead …
The WP Legal Pages plugin is not free, but it’s an affordable and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will make the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your site much easier and save you a great deal of time.
Here are just some of the benefits of using the WP Legal Pages plugin:
- Built-in Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Very Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of the basic legal pages you need in a few minutes with a few clicks of the mouse.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WYSIWYG editor lets you edit legal pages just like any page on your website.
- Custom Shortcodes Integration – You can add shortcodes to your WordPress pages and the information will then be automatically inserted into your pages when you publish.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like every other WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page or post lock down. Page unlocks and can be accessed when users agree to your legal terms.
- New 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 WordPress dashboard area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Legal Pages Menu)
This lets you create, edit and view your legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings)
You can easily create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites with products, affiliate websites, AdSense sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Type of Site menu)
Choose from various pre-written legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Pre-configured 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
For more details about the benefits of using this plugin, go here:
Compliance Bar is a simple plugin for WordPress users that includes over twenty customizable compliance templates for your digital business …
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin For WordPress)
This 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 of Service
- Earnings Disclaimer
(Legal Suite Pro – 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 secured rights to high quality, professionally written legal disclaimers and packaged them into a plugin that can be installed quickly on any WordPress powered site. Your legal pages can be installed and set up on your site in less than one minute and the plugin licensing is flexible, allowing you to install and use the plugin on all of your websites (even sites that you decide to sell or flip).
If hiring lawyers to create your legal pages is currently out of your budget, consider implementing at least some basic type of legal protection on your website until you can afford legal services.
We want your site to be legally protected!
Download the Legal Pages Generator tool below (for FREE!), or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-written legal templates, or a legal pages plugin as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you make money online (or are planning to), you need to ensure that your site complies with regulatory agencies and any guidelines and terms of service provided by 3rd-party services and products that you may be promoting or advertising online. Your digital presence must comply with a wide range of laws and regulatory guidelines, 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?
Disclaimer: Once again, please note that we are not lawyers and we offer no legal advice here. We strongly advise you to do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert to ensure that your website is compliant with the law pertaining to your business.
Additional Legal Information
Below is a time-saving list of websites we recommend you visit to help you better understand what your business requires to comply and meet legal obligations:
- Federal Trade Commission 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 – Better Business Bureau
- 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
- Analytics Help – Policy requirements for Google Analytics Advertising Features
- Google AdSense Program Policies Explained
- AdSense Help – Required Content
- Google AdWords – Information Collection And Use
- ClickBank – Creating Your First Product
- Facebook Platform Policies
We hope you have found this article useful and that it has helped you understand the importance of having a legally compliant website. Use the information presented above to quickly add all necessary legal pages to your WordPress site.
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