One of the worst things that can happen to you as a website owner is to be on the wrong side of the law.
As the internet continues growing at an extraordinary rate and rules constantly change, it’s vital to try and stay on top of what’s happening and make sure that your website 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 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their websites state that if you plan to promote anything on your website for profit, then you need to follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory departments, such as the Better Business Bureau, also known as BBB. Search online “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet for more details.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program – Better Business Bureau)
These laws has legal implications for several business activities, including:
- Any type of advertising, including PPC advertising
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
If your online business is not compliant, you could also end up facing a number of penalties, including fines, having your website shut down, even jail time!
In this article, we look at why it’s important to have a legally compliant website and how to quickly add all necessary legal pages to your WordPress site using simple and cost-effective legal resources and solutions.
Does Your Website Or Blog Comply With All Legal Requirements?
Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice on this website. As previously stated, the purpose of this article is only to make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal requirements in accordance with the laws governing your business and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of companies whose products or services you recommend on your website or blog
Why It’s Important To Make Your Website Compliant
Is your business at risk? Consider what the implications to your business would be if these scenarios were to take place:
- A user has a heart attack after using your online fitness workout.
- The skin cream you sell as an affiliate gives people skin rashes.
- You’ve let your subscribers know that you will not sell their information, but you have not spelled out exactly what you’ll do with it.
- Someone copies content from your site and publishes it on their own site.
- There is no statement on your site letting visitors know that you are endorsing a product as an affiliate that you could earn an affiliate commission if they purchase it.
- You didn’t spell out the conditions of your return policies.
- Online visitors claim the testimonials on your site are fake and decide to sue you.
- You did not disclose that you have received a free copy in your product review.
- Your site publishes adult content and you did not take sufficient measures to keep underage persons from accessing it.
Consider now 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. In addition to a hefty $390,000 fine, they’ve also been ordered to provide everyone he does 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 private details about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service does not allow users to scrape UIDs. Many internet marketers gambled that they could get away with it and lost. Their accounts were shut down, costing them thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independently-conducted study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites picked at random, more than 90% had infringed at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were in violation of at least 2 of Google’s policies, and more than 40% had breached 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 they had violated, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to risk being targeted for litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Marketer
- AdWords Advertiser
- Info Product Marketer
- Amazon Affiliate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Adult Content Publisher
- Provider Of Freelance, Consulting Or Coaching Services
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
it’s important to ensure that your website remains legally compliant.
Compliance With 3rd-Party Services
Complying with third-party companies terms and policies is important.
You are expected to let your site users know that your website complies will all legal requirements and recommended guidelines. This not only increases consumer trust and confidence in your business, it’s also required by most companies you will interact with.
Here are just some examples:
Google requires your site to display certain information when using their products. This includes using services such as Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Generating revenue online with your online properties with Google AdSense advertising …
(Google AdSense advertising - policy requirements)
Or promoting your services or products through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you sell information-based products with merchants such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant networks, you will need to add a number of legal pages to your site before they will approve your products for sale in their network …
(ClickBank – policy requirements for product sellers)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires that you add clear disclaimers and policy statements to visitors, especially if you plan to use product testimonials or endorsements …
(FTC – consumer policies and regulations)
New FTC Regulations Require Your Site To Comply
FTC regulations governing how business is conducted online were introduced in March 2012. A quick search online will easily reveal that many sites are still unaware (or choose to flaunt) these requirements. As has happened in the past, this will most likely prompt the FTC to make an example of businesses and prosecute companies in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you 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. it’s best to protect your business by making sure that your site is compliant with all FTC regulations and guidelines.
Various business resource sites provide guidelines on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your site meet FTC requirements. We provide additional references and links to useful resources to a number of these at the end of this article …
(Word your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of the law)
Social Media Apps Also Have Compliance Requirements
If you are planning to create social networking applications for your website, social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and many others require you to provide information about your legal pages …
(Apps for social networks also require compliance)
- If you are unsure whether or not 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 are considering promoting anything online using affiliate marketing, or generate revenue with Google AdSense, eBay or Amazon advertising, or use 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 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 whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, then it’s best to act now and take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business.
What Compliance Information Should You Add To Your Site To Be Legally Compliant?
If your web site is lacking in areas of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following legal pages to your site should help your site stay out of trouble with most consumer protection agencies and 3rd-party providers, and even help to avoid potential legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “takedown” notices):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
Additionally, you may want to look into implementing any of these pages if applicable:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you promote or sell affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Links Policy
- Health Disclaimers (e.g. if your website or blog provides general information about health or medical areas)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Media Terms (if you allow users to download videos or audio files on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding correct web content disclosure information is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Discloses to site users that you are not receiving compensation for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Disclosure that informs your readers that you will be compensated if they act on your recommendation and purchase through your affiliate links.
- Review/Sample Copy – Explains to your readers that you have received a review or sample copy of the product.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that informs your visitors that you have been compensated in some way to write the content.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs visitors that you’re using online behavioral tracking technology. This is required to comply with 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 WordPress Website
Ideally, you will have a lawyer prepare the content of your legal documents. Once these have been created, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Uploading Legal Pages Manually
If someone prepares the legal content for you as standard web pages (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your site, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend adding a legals directory to your web server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this directory using FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your web server via FTP)
You can then easily add links to these legal pages in WordPress using a custom WordPress menu …
(Custom WordPress Menu)
Where To Display Legal Web Pages On Your Site
Make sure that your legal pages are kept up-to-date and clearly visible to visitors. You can add links to your legal pages to your sidebar menu (or the footer section of your site) so that users have access to legal information from every web page …
(It’s important to display links to legal information to users on all of your site’s pages)
We have created a detailed tutorial on adding links to pages on your WordPress sidebar using widgets here:
Store-Bought Legal Templates
You can find attorney-prepared downloadable forms and agreements by searching online, or going to sites like this one:
(FindLegalForms.com – Legal forms)
Another option is to purchase a package of website legal templates designed by attorney Scott Talbert to help businesses protect themselves online …
(Cut And Paste Website Legal Pages – 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 simple search and replace to add your own details, then pasted into your legal pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Form Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance
- Terms of Service (ToS) & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new WordPress page for every legal form you want to add to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload the pages to your server as previously described.
Go here for more details:
WordPress Legal Page Plugins
In addition to using cut & paste templates, another option is to use a plugin.
Here are some great plugins for WordPress-driven websites and blogs that you may be interested in checking out:
(WordPress Plugin – WP Legal Pages)
If setting up legal pages manually feels too time-consuming for you, then consider using a plugin like WordPress Legal Pages instead …
This plugin is not free, but it’s a low-priced and well-supported premium plugin that will simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your website and save you a great deal of time and effort.
Some of the benefits of using WordPress Legal Pages are:
- Built-in Legal Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of your basic legal pages in around 3 minutes with a few clicks of the mouse.
- Editable Pages – Full WYSIWYG editor lets you edit legal pages just like any other WordPress page.
- Custom Shortcodes Integration – Add shortcodes to any of your website or blog pages and the information will then be automatically inserted into your content when you publish.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like any WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page or post lock down. When users agree to the terms, the page unlocks.
- Additional Features – More features are being added to this plugin with every new version.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a menu item is added to your WP dashboard menu …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Menu)
This lets you create, view and edit your legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings Area)
The plugin gives you the option to create legal pages for different types of websites, such as business websites with products, affiliate websites, Amazon sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Create different legal pages)
Select from several built-in 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 about the benefits of using this useful plugin, go here:
Compliance Bar is a simple plugin for WordPress-driven websites and blogs containing over twenty customizable compliance templates for your site …
Go here to learn more about the plugin:
(Legal Suite Pro For WordPress)
Legal Suite Pro Plugin For WordPress 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 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. You can have legal pages installed and set up on your site in less than one minute and the license allows you to install and use the plugin on all of your sites.
To learn more, visit this site:
If hiring lawyers to create your legal pages is out of your budget, consider implementing at least some basic form of legal protection on your website until you can afford a solicitor.
We want your business to be protected!
Download the Legal Pages Generator tool below (it’s FREE!), or consider using one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-written legal templates, or a plugin as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
As stated earlier, if you do any type of business online (or plan to), it’s important that your site stays compliant with all legal requirements and the terms of service and guidelines for 3rd-party products and services that you may decide to promote or advertise online. Your website or blog must comply with various regulations, some 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?
Disclaimer: Once again, please note that we are not lawyers and we are not offering legal advice here. You are strongly advised to do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way of ensuring that your website fully complies with the law pertaining to your business.
References And Resources
Here is a useful list of websites we recommend you visit to help you better understand what your site may require to remain compliant and meet its legal requirements and guidelines:
- Federal Trade Commission Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- FTC 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
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- US Copyright Office
See Also …
- 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 why it’s important to have a compliant website. Use the information provided above to quickly add essential legal pages to your site.
"I am beyond impressed with what you have put together. I can tell that you put a ton of hard work into building what you have. You have the absolute best content on WordPress I have ever seen!" - Robert T. Jillie