Is your WordPress website legally compliant? Do you know if your site is breaking any laws, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any third-party companies whose products or services you are doing business with?
Online laws were designed to protect the rights of consumers and apply to anyone who sells, markets or promotes goods and services online. Every website owner risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about the law won’t prevent someone from taking legal action against your business.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 that regulate how businesses promote advertising on their websites state that if you plan to promote anything on your website for commercial gain, then you will need to follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection agencies, such as the Better Business Bureau, also called the BBB. Look up “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet to learn more.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program – BBB)
The new laws affect several online business categories, including:
- Any type of advertising, including text link advertising, Google Adsense, etc.
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creation
If your online business is not compliant, you could also face a whole range of penalties, including fines, having your website shut down, even jail time!
The purpose of this guide is to make you aware that your site may be required to comply with legal requirements in accordance with the laws that govern online business practices, the importance of remaining compliant with the terms of service of 3rd-party providers whose services or products you may be using on your website, and that there are plugins for WordPress that can help your websites become compliant, such as the plugins listed further below.
Is Your Site Legally Compliant?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we are not providing legal advice. As previously stated, the purpose of this article is only to help make you aware that your website may be subject to certain legal policies in accordance with federal, regional or local laws that govern your business and that compliance may be required with the terms of service of third-party providers whose services or products you advertise
Why It’s Important To Make Your Website Compliant
Is your business at risk? Consider for one moment what would happen to your business if any of these scenarios were to occur:
- Someone suffers a heart attack after they use your online workout program.
- The skin care creams you promote as an affiliate marketer gives people allergic reactions.
- You’ve let your subscribers know that you won’t sell their information, but you haven’t clearly spelled out what you will do with their personal details.
- Someone steals your content and puts it up on their site.
- There is no statement on your website or blog letting your site visitors know that you’re an affiliate for the product you are promoting and could get paid an affiliate commission if visitors purchase through your link.
- You have not spelled out the terms of your refund/return policies.
- Visitors claim that the testimonials on your site are all fake and try to sue you.
- You haven’t disclosed that you received a free copy of the product you reviewed.
- Your website publishes adult-related information and you did not take sufficient measures to keep underage children from accessing it.
Consider also these real case studies of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would have to give up their personal information to complete his offer. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer copped a massive $800,000 fine for collecting personal information from mobile device address books without the owners’ knowledge and consent – including storing private details about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits users from scraping UIDs. Many marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, costing them thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independently-conducted 2010 study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites chosen at random, more than 90% were in violation of at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were breaking 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 whose policies they had infringed, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to risk becoming exposed to litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Marketer
- AdSense Publisher
- Niche Marketer
- Amazon Associate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Provider Of Freelance, Coaching Or Consulting Services
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
You need to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your website or blog is fully compliant with the law.
Compliance With Third-Party Companies
Compliance with 3rd-party companies terms and policies is important.
You are expected to let your site users know that your business complies with legal requirements and recommended guidelines. This not only increases trust and buyer confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of most companies you do business with online.
Google requires you to display legal information when using many of their products. This includes using features like Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Monetizing your websites with Google AdSense ads …
(Google AdSense ads - policy requirements)
And even promoting your services or products via Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you plan to sell digital products through companies such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant networks, you are required to add a number of legal pages to your site before your products can be approved for sale …
(Policy requirements for ClickBank product vendors)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires you to include 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 Website Is Compliant
New FTC regulations governing the conduct of businesses online were introduced in March 2012. A quick search online reveals that many sites are 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 site owners for breaches of regulation in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any kind of business online, therefore, it’s best not to take chances. Even if your business does not operate in the U.S. we strongly recommend protecting your business by making sure that your site is compliant with all FTC regulations and guidelines.
Many resources online provide guidelines for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help your site comply with FTC requirements. We provide links to useful and additional references to some of these at the end of this article …
(You must structure your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Don’t Forget Social Media Applications
If you plan to develop applications that will 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 organizations like Google, Facebook, etc., then you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting services or products online as an affiliate marketer, or make money online with Google AdSense, eBay or Amazon ads, or driving visitors to your website with Google AdWords, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you need to provide on your site to comply with their Terms Of Service and policy requirements to avoid having your accounts suspended.
- If you have been wondering if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to avoid becoming a magnet for litigation.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, most third-party websites require you to comply with their policies)
Essential Legal Pages You Should Add To Your Website To Ensure Compliance
If your website is falling short in aspects of compliance, then this section will help you.
Adding the following legal pages to your site should help your website stay out of trouble with many consumer protection agencies and external providers, and even help you avoid possible legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “take down” notices):
- About Us Page
- Contact Page
- Website Disclaimers
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the above pages, you may want to consider implementing one or more of these pages where applicable:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you sell or promote affiliate products or services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Links Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (if your website provides money-making information)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
- Use Of Media (if you provide users with access to download media on your site)
Disclosure Pages – Types
Adding the right type of web content disclosure is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs your visitors that you will not receive for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Disclosure that informs site users that you will be compensated if they purchase through an affiliate link.
- Sample Or review Copy – Lets readers be aware that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product.
- Sponsored Post – Informs your readers that you were compensated in some form to write the post.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs visitors 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 display prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Pages Content To Your Site
Ideally, you should consult a lawyer and ask them to prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once you have this prepared, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Upload Legal Web Pages Manually
If someone prepares the legal content for you in HTML format, you can simply upload these to your server, or have someone upload them for you.
We recommend creating a legals folder in your web server and uploading your legal pages to this folder using FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your web server via FTP)
You can then easily add links to your pages in WordPress using a custom WordPress menu …
Displaying Legal Web Pages On Your Website
Make sure that your legal pages are kept up-to-date and clearly visible to all visitors. You can add these to your sidebar menu (or the footer of your site) to ensure that users have access to legal information from all of your pages …
(It’s important to display links to your legal information on all of your website’s pages)
We have written a detailed tutorial on displaying links to pages on your sidebar and footer menu using widgets here:
You can easily find downloadable attorney-drafted disclosures and internet forms and agreements by searching online, or by visiting sites like this one:
Go here for more information:
Alternatively, you can download a package of cut & paste legal templates designed by legal attorney Scott Talbert …
(Cut & Paste Website Legal Pages)
Cut & Paste website templates feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with a simple quick search and replace to insert your own details, then pasted into your web pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- 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 server as described earlier.
To learn more, visit this website:
WordPress Plugins – Legal Pages
In addition to using templates, you can keep things very simple by using WordPress plugins.
Here are some great plugins for WordPress sites worth looking into:
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin)
If you don’t want to spend time creating legal web pages manually, then consider choosing a plugin like WP Legal Pages instead …
The WP Legal Pages plugin is not free, but it’s a reasonably low-priced and well-supported plugin that will simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your website and save you time.
Some of the benefits of using the WordPress Legal Pages are:
- Pre-written Legal Templates – The plugin gives you access to over 20 built-in legal page templates created by professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of your basic legal pages in a few minutes with a few clicks of the mouse.
- Editable Pages – Full WYSIWYG editor lets you edit all legal pages like any WP page.
- Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to your pages and the information will be automatically inserted into your content when published.
- Exclude pages. The plugin lets you 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. When a user agrees to your legal terms, the page unlocks, giving them access.
- New Features – More features are being added to this plugin with every new version.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu item will display inside your main navigation menu section …
(WP Legal Pages – Legal Pages Menu)
This allows you to create, edit and view legal pages from the admin area …
(WP Legal Pages – Settings Area)
With WP Legal Pages, you can create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites, affiliate sites, medical sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Type of Site menu)
Select from a number of pre-written legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Built-In 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 about the benefits of using this handy plugin, visit the plugin site:
The Compliance Bar WordPress Plugin is a complete compliance & disclaimer solution for your digital business …
To learn more about this plugin go here:
(Legal Suite Pro 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
- 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 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 less than one minute and the license allows you to install and use this plugin on all of your sites.
If using the services of lawyers to create your online legal documentation is out of your budget, consider implementing at least some basic type of legal protection on your website until you can afford to hire the services of a legal firm.
We want your business to be safe!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator software below, or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using ready-made legal page templates, or plugins - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you engage in any form of commercial activity online (or are planning to), it’s important that your site is compliant with regulatory agencies and any guidelines and terms of service (TOS) for 3rd-party sites that you may decide to promote or endorse online. If your website doesn’t comply with laws designed to protect consumer rights, you’re breaking the law.
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 do not provide legal advice. You are strongly advised to do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert to ensure that your website fully complies with all legal requirements in your country or region.
Here is a time-saving list of sites we suggest you visit to better understand what your business requires to comply and meet its 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 – BBB
- 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
- United States 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
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the importance of having a legally compliant website. Use the information provided above to quickly add essential legal pages to your WordPress website using simple and cost-effective resources and solutions.
"I love the way your email series "Infinite Web Content Creation Training Series" is documented and presented. It is very absorbing and captivating. The links and tutorials are interesting and educational. This has motivated me to rewrite my content following the concepts I am learning from the email series." - Mani Raju, www.fortuneinewaste.com