Is your WordPress website compliant? Do you know if your site is breaking the law, or breaching the Terms of Service (TOS) of any 3rd-party companies whose products or services you are endorsing or advertising?
As the digital economy continues growing at such a rapid pace and the rules keep changing, it’s important to stay informed about what’s going on and to make sure that your website or blog remains legal, especially if your digital presence is important in the success of your business strategy.
New 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 disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection agencies, such as the Better Business Bureau, also called the BBB. Search online for information about “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet to learn more.
(Better Business Bureau Website)
The introduction of these new laws has legal ramifications for various business categories, including:
- Any kind of advertising, including Google AdWords
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creation
If your site does not display certain legal pages (e.g. terms of service, privacy statement, legal disclaimers, etc.), many third-party sites such as Google won’t let you advertise, sites like ClickBank or JVZoo will not approve your digital products for sale, PayPal could shut down your account and freeze your funds, Facebook could reject your web applications, and you will not be allowed into most advertising or affiliate merchant networks.
You could also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to legal action.
This guide explains the importance of having a compliant website and how to quickly add 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 are not offering legal advice. As previously stated, this article is designed only to help make you aware that your website may be subject to certain legal policies in accordance with the laws that govern business online and that compliance may be required with the terms of service of third-party providers whose products or services you offer
Understanding The Importance Of Making Your Website Compliant
Are you at risk? Consider for one moment what the implications to your business would be in the following scenarios:
- Someone suffers a heart attack after purchasing your online fitness workout.
- The skin care creams you promote as an affiliate marketer gives someone an adverse reaction.
- You’ve informed your subscribers that you won’t sell their information, but you have not described exactly what you plan to do with their personal details.
- Someone steals your content and puts it up on their website.
- There is no statement on your website or blog telling your site visitors that you’re an affiliate for the product you’re recommending that you will earn a commission if visitors purchase it.
- You have not spelled out the conditions of your return policies.
- A visitor claims your testimonials are false and decides to sue you.
- You didn’t disclose in a product review that you received a free copy of the product.
- Your site contains adult information and you did not take sufficient measures to keep underaged 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 (including credit card information to complete a debt reduction offer. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer received a massive $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 gambled that they could get away with it 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% had broken at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% had infringed 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 cautions 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 you could be exposed to the risks of litigation through non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA or PPA Marketer
- Network Marketer
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdWords Advertiser
- Niche Marketer
- Amazon Associate
- EBay Seller
- Adult Content Publisher
- Provider Of Freelance, Consulting Or Coaching Services
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
It’s imperative to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your digital presence has the right legal pages and information accessible to your site visitors.
Complying With Third-Party Companies Terms And Policies
Leading online companies and government regulatory agencies emphasize the need of complying with the terms and policies of 3rd-party service providers.
You are obligated to let your site users know that your website complies will all legal requirements and professional guidelines. This not only improves consumer trust and confidence in your business, it’s also required by most companies you will do business with.
Google requires websites to display certain information if using many of their services and product features. This includes using Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Earning revenue with your websites with Google AdSense advertising …
(Google AdSense online advertising policy requirements)
And even promoting your products using Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you plan to sell information-based products using places like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant networks, you will need to add a number of legal pages before your products can be approved for sale …
(ClickBank – policy requirements for product sellers)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires that you display clear disclaimers and policies on your site, especially when using testimonials or product endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer policies and regulations)
New FTC Regulations Require Your Website To Be Compliant
New FTC regulations governing the conduct of doing business online were introduced in March 2012. A quick search online will easily reveal that many websites are unaware (or choose to ignore) these requirements. As has already been the case, 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 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. we strongly recommend protecting your business by making sure that your site is compliant with FTC regulations and guidelines.
You can find many online resources that can provide guidelines on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your business comply with FTC requirements. We provide a number of references and links to resources at the end of this article …
(You must structure your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of the law)
Don’t Forget Social Media Applications
If you plan to develop social networking applications for your site users, you will also be required to provide social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and many others with information about your legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are unsure as to whether or not you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of sites like Google, Facebook, etc., it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote services or products on your site using affiliate marketing, or generate revenue online with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay ads, 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 are required to provide on your site to comply with all Terms Of Service and policy requirements - don’t risk having your accounts shut down.
- If you have been wondering whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to protect yourself and your website.
Common Legal Pages To Add To Your Website
If your website lacks in areas of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following compliance pages to your website will keep you out of trouble with most regulatory authorities and 3rd-party service providers, and help to avoid potential legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “takedown” notices):
- About Us Page
- Contact Us
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the pages above, you may want to consider including one or more of the following pages:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you provide information about affiliate products or services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Linking Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (if your website or blog provides general information about financial areas or income opportunities)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
Disclosure Pages – Types
Adding the right type of disclosure is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Lets your readers know that you’re not receiving any form of compensation for writing the article.
- Affiliate Links – Lets users know that you may receive compensation if they act on your recommendation and buy through an affiliate link.
- Sample/Review Copy – Discloses to site users that you have received a sample or review copy of the product or service.
- Sponsored Post – Lets site users be aware that you have been compensated in some way to write the content.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs readers 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 display prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
Adding Legal Pages Content To Your Site
Ideally, you will consult your lawyer and ask them to prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once this has been created, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Uploading Legal Web Pages Manually To Your Website
If someone prepares the legal verbiage for you in typical web page format (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your server, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend adding a legal directory to your server and uploading your legal pages to this folder (e.g. via FTP) …
(Upload legal pages to your web server using FTP)
You can then add links to your pages from your WordPress site using custom links in your menu admin area …
(Custom WordPress Menu Feature)
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are up-to-date and clearly accessible to your visitors. You can insert links to your legal pages into the sidebar menu (or the footer section of your website or blog) so that visitors have access to legal information from every web page …
(Display links to legal information on all of your site’s pages)
We have created a detailed tutorial about adding links to pages on your sidebar or footer menu here:
You can easily find downloadable attorney-drafted forms and agreements by searching online, or by going to websites like this one:
Visit this site to learn more:
Another option is to purchase a package of cut & paste legal templates designed by attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(Cut And Paste Website Legal Pages – Legal Templates)
Cut & Paste website legal pages feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with a quick search and replace to add your own business name and URL, then pasted into your pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Page Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance (This proprietary FTC page accommodates new Federal Trade Commission regulations that came into effect in March 2012)
- Terms of Service & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new page on your website for each 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 previously described.
WordPress Legal Page Plugins
As well as using legal templates, another option is to use a plugin.
Here are some great WordPress plugins worth looking into:
(WP Legal Pages)
If manually creating legal pages for your website feels too time-consuming for you, then consider choosing a plugin like WP Legal Pages …
This is not a free plugin, but it’s a very low-priced and well-supported premium plugin that will help make the work of creating and implementing legal pages on your website much easier and save you a great deal of time.
Some of the benefits of using the WordPress Legal Pages are:
- Built-in Templates – 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 a few minutes with just a few clicks of the mouse.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WordPress content editor lets you edit all legal pages just like any other page on your website.
- Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to any of your pages and the information will 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 any page on your site.
- Forced Options – Force page or post lockdown. 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 new menu item will display inside your navigation area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Menu)
This allows you to create, view and edit your legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings)
The plugin gives you the option to create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites with products, niche sites, Amazon sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Create different legal pages)
You can also select from several built-in legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages – 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
For more details about this plugin, go here:
Compliance Bar is a simple plugin for WordPress users that contains over twenty customizable legal pages for your site …
Go here to learn more:
(Legal Suite Pro)
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 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 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 this plugin on all of your sites (even sites that you decide to sell).
If hiring lawyers to create your online legal documentation is currently out of your budget, consider implementing at least some basic kind of legal protection on your website until you can afford to hire the services of a legal form or lawyer.
We want your site to be legally safe!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator tool below, or choose one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-prepared legal templates, or plugins - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you do business online (or are planning to), it’s important that your site stays compliant with regulatory agencies and any guidelines and terms of service (TOS) required by 3rd-party products and services that you may decide to promote or use online. Your website must comply with a whole range of 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, we are not lawyers and we offer no legal advice on our website. We strongly advise you to do your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way of ensuring that your website is compliant with the law wherever your business is based.
Here is a time-saving list of additional sites we suggest you visit to better understand what your business requires to remain compliant and meet its legal requirements and guidelines:
- FTC Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- Federal Trade Commission Advertising & Marketing Rules Of the Road
- FTC Advertising And Marketing On The Internet
- 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
- US Patent and Trademark Office
- United States Copyright Office
- 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 legally compliant website. Use the information above to quickly add all necessary legal pages to your WordPress website or blog using inexpensive methods and resources.
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