Is your WordPress website legal? Do you know if your site is breaking any laws, rules or regulations, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any companies whose products or services you are promoting or advertising?
As the digital way of life continues growing at an extraordinary rate and the rules of the game constantly change, it’s absolutely vital that you stay informed about what’s going on and ensure that your website or blog remains legally compliant, especially if having an online presence is a significant factor in your business strategy.
New laws introduced in 2014 to regulate how businesses promote advertising on their websites state that if you plan to promote anything on your site for profit, you need to follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection departments, such as the Better Business Bureau, also known as BBB. Look up “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet for more details.
(Better Business Bureau Website)
These laws affect several business activities, including:
- Any kind of advertising, including Google AdWords or AdSense
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creators
If there are no legal pages on your website (e.g. terms of service, privacy statement, legal disclaimers, etc.), many sites such as Google won’t let you advertise, digital marketplaces like ClickBank or JVZoo will not let you list digital products on their network, PayPal could suspend your account and freeze your funds, Facebook will suspend web applications, and you won’t be allowed to enroll in many advertising and online marketing networks.
You may also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to legal action.
This guide explains why it’s important to have a legally compliant website and how to quickly add all necessary legal pages to your site using inexpensive methods and resources.
Does Your Website Comply With The Law?
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we cannot offer legal advice. You must do your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way to ensure that your website fully complies with all laws and regulations in your country or region.
Why Ensuring That Your Website Is Compliant Is Important
Consider what would happen to your business in the following scenarios:
- A person suffers a heart attack after purchasing your online workout program.
- The skin cream you promote as an affiliate marketer gives a number of users allergic reactions.
- You’ve informed your subscribers that you won’t sell their information, but you have not described exactly what you’ll do with it.
- Someone steals content from your website and puts it up on their own site.
- You did not tell your visitors that you are marketing a product as an affiliate that you may earn a commission if visitors purchase it.
- You have not spelled out the terms and conditions of your refund/return policies.
- A visitor claims that your testimonials are misleading and decides to sue you as a result.
- You did not disclose in a product review that you received a free copy of the product.
- Your website publishes adult-related content and you did not take sufficient measures to keep underage children from accessing it.
Consider also the documented case studies of costly compliance breaches described:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would be required to give up their personal information (including credit card details to complete his offer. In addition to a hefty $390,000 fine, he is now required to give a copy of the judgement to everyone they do business with for the next 20 years — including employees.
- A social networking app developer received a whopping $800,000 fine for collecting personal information without users’ knowledge and consent – including storing private details 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 2010 study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred randomly-chosen websites, more than 90% had breached at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were breaking at least two 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 notices or lose access entirely to the Google program they had violated, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to risk becoming targeted for litigation through non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA (Cost Per Action) Marketer
- Network Marketer
- Affiliate Promoter
- AdWords Advertiser
- Niche Marketer
- Amazon Associate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Coach or Consultant
- Online Seller Of Any Product Or Service
it’s important to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your website or blog remains fully compliant with the law.
Compliance With Third-Party Services Terms And Policies
Complying with third-party services terms and policies is important.
You must let your site users know that your website complies will all legal requirements and recommended guidelines. This not only increases trust and confidence in your business, it’s also a requirement of most companies you engage with.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Google requires you to display legal information when using their services or product features. This includes using features like Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Generating revenue online with your website using Google AdSense …
(Google AdSense ads policy requirements)
Or promoting your business via Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you sell information-based products through companies such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant networks, you are required to add certain legal pages before they will approve your products for sale …
(Policy requirements for selling via ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also requires that you add clear disclaimers and disclosures on your website, especially if you plan to use testimonials or product endorsements …
(FTC – consumer guidelines and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensure That Your Site Is Compliant
FTC regulations governing the conduct of doing business online were introduced in March 2012. A quick search online will reveal that many business are still unaware (or choose to ignore) these requirements. As is already the case, this will most likely prompt the FTC to make an example of businesses and prosecute website owners for breaches of regulation in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any kind of selling online, therefore, it’s best not to take any chances. Even if your business is not physically located in the U.S. we strongly recommend protecting your business by ensuring that your site is compliant with all FTC regulations.
Many resources online provide guidelines and examples for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help your site comply with 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)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you plan to create apps for your website, you will also be required to provide social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others with access to various legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are unsure whether or not you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of companies like Google, Facebook, etc., then it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote anything online as an affiliate marketer, or make money online with Google AdSense, ads for eBay or Amazon products, or driving visitors to your site using Google AdWords, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you need to include on your site to comply with all Terms Of Service and policy requirements - don’t risk having your accounts suspended.
- If you have been wondering if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, then it’s best to act now and take proper precautions to protect yourself and your website.
Basic Legal Pages You Should Include In Your Site
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 legal pages to your website should help you keep out of trouble with many consumer protection agencies and external service providers, and avoid potential legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “takedown” notices):
- About Us Page
- Contact Page
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the above pages, you may want to consider adding one or more of the following pages where applicable:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you sell or promote affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Links Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (if your website provides money-making advice)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
- Audio/Video Terms (e.g. if you allow media downloads on your site)
Disclosure Pages – Types
Adding the correct type of disclosure to your website is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Discloses to your visitors that you will not receive any type of compensation for writing the article.
- Affiliate Links – Lets your visitors know that you may benefit financially if they buy through your affiliate link.
- Review Or Sample Copy – Lets your readers be aware that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product or service.
- Sponsored Post – Discloses to readers that you have been compensated in some way to write the content.
- Third Party Advertising – Lets visitors 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 Compliance Pages To Your WordPress Site
Ideally, you should consult lawyers or a legal firm and ask them to prepare the content of your legal documents. Once you have this completed, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Uploading Legal Pages Manually To Your Website
If someone prepares and delivers the legal verbiage for you in HTML format, you can simply upload these to your server, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend creating a legals folder in your web server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this folder via FTP …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder in your web server and upload pages using FTP)
You can then add a link to these pages in WordPress using a custom WordPress menu …
(Custom WordPress Menu)
Displaying Legal Web Pages On Your Website
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are fully up-to-date and clearly accessible to all site visitors. You can add links to your legal pages to the WordPress sidebar (or place them in the footer section of your site) to ensure that visitors can access the information from all of your pages …
(Display links to your legal information on all of your site’s pages)
For a detailed step-by-step tutorial about displaying links to pages on your sidebar menu or footer in WordPress using widgets, see this step-by-step tutorial:
You can easily find attorney-drafted downloadable forms and agreements by searching online, or by visiting websites like the ones listed below:
(FindLegalForms.com – Legal forms)
For more details, go here:
Alternatively, you can purchase a package of website legal templates drafted by attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(Website Legal Pages)
Cut & Paste website legal templates were written 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 details, then pasted into your legal web pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Pages include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer (multi-discipline professional disclaimers)
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance
- ToS & Conditions of Use: includes inter- & intra-page redundancy, Contra Proferentem provision, reservation of rights, and exclusive social media admonition.
You can either create a new page for each legal form you want added to your site, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload the pages to your web server as described previously.
Go here to learn more:
WordPress Plugins – Legal Pages
As well as using cut & paste legal templates, another option for adding legal pages to your website is to use plugins.
Here are some great legal WordPress plugins that you should check out:
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress)
If you don’t want to spend time creating legal web pages manually, then consider using a plugin like WP Legal Pages …
This plugin is not free, but it’s a reasonably low-priced and well-supported premium plugin that will make the task of creating and implementing legal pages on your WordPress site a lot easier and save you loads of headaches.
Here are just some of the benefits of using WP Legal Pages:
- Built-in Legal Templates – Over 20 built-in legal page templates created by professional lawyers.
- Very Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of the basic legal pages you will need in around 3 minutes with a few clicks of the mouse.
- Editable Pages – Content editor lets you edit legal pages just like every other page on your site.
- Custom Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to your pages and the information is then 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 every other page on your website.
- Forced Options – Force page or post lockdown. Page unlocks and can be accessed when users agree to your legal terms.
- New Features – New plugin features get added when new versions are released.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu item will display inside your main WP dashboard area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Legal Pages Menu)
This lets you view, create and edit your legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings Screen)
The plugin gives you the option to create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites, niche sites, AdSense sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Page type drop down menu)
You can also choose from various pre-written legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Pre-configured 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
Go here to learn more about this plugin:
Compliance Bar is a simple WordPress plugin containing over 20 customizable compliance page templates for your digital presence …
For more details, visit the plugin site here:
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin)
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 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 the plugin on all of your websites (even sites that you decide to sell or flip).
If hiring a lawyer to create your legal pages is out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some basic form of legal protection on your site until you can afford professional assistance from a legal expert.
We want your website to be protected!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator software below, or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using legal page templates, or a WordPress legal pages plugin as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
Legal Pages Generator quickly generates essential legal documents for your website including Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and Earnings Disclaimer.
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you do business online, it’s important that your website stays compliant with regulatory agencies and the guidelines and terms of service for third-party sites that you may be promoting or selling online. Your internet presence must comply with numerous regulations, many of which you may not even 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 are not offering legal advice on this website. You must do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert to ensure that your website fully complies with the law pertaining to your business.
Below is a time-saving list of sites we suggest you visit to better understand what may be required of your website to remain compliant and meet legal requirements and guidelines:
- Federal Trade Commission Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- Federal Trade Commission Advertising & Marketing Rules Of the Road
- FTC Advertising And Marketing On The Internet
- Better Business Bureau Website
- 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
- US Patent and Trademark Office
- US Copyright Office
- 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 you have found this article useful and that it has helped you understand why it’s important to have a compliant website. Use the information provided above to quickly and easily add essential legal pages to your website.
"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum