Is your WordPress site compliant? Do you know if your site is breaking the law, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any 3rd-party companies whose services or products you sell or endorse?
Online laws and regulations were designed to protect the rights of consumers and apply to anyone who markets, sells or promotes goods or services online. Anyone who owns a website risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about the law won’t prevent someone from taking legal action against you.
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, you must follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory departments, such as the (US based) BBB, or Better Business Bureau. 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)
The introduction of these laws has legal consequences for various online business activities, including:
- Any type of advertising, including Google AdSense
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creation
Without legal pages on your site (e.g. terms of service, privacy statement, financial disclaimers, etc.), many third-party sites such as Google won’t let you advertise, online merchants like ClickBank will not allow you to list digital products, PayPal may close down your account, Facebook could reject your applications, and you will not be allowed to promote many advertising and online marketing networks.
If your website is not compliant, you could end up facing a number of penalties, including fines, having your website shut down, even jail time!
This guide explains the importance of having a legally compliant website and how to quickly and easily add legal pages to your WordPress site.
Does Your Website Or Blog Comply With The Law?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we are not offering legal advice on this website. As previously stated, this article is designed only to help make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal requirements in accordance with the laws that govern your business and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of companies whose products or services you use
Why It’s Important To Make Your Website Compliant
Consider what the implications to your business would be if any of the situations below were to take place:
- A user suffers a heart attack after purchasing your online fitness workout.
- The skin care creams you sell as an affiliate marketer gives a number of users an adverse reaction.
- You’ve let your subscribers know that you won’t sell their information, but you haven’t described exactly what you plan to do with the details you’ve collected.
- Someone steals your content and puts it up on their own website.
- There is no statement on your site letting your site users know that you’re an affiliate for the product you’re recommending that you will get paid financial benefits if they 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 because of it.
- You did not disclose that you have received a free copy in your product review.
- Your website publishes adult information and you have not taken appropriate measures to keep underage children from accessing it.
Consider also these actual case studies of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling online users they would be required to give up personal information to complete an offer they were promoting. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer was slapped with a whopping $800,000 fine for collecting personal information from mobile device address books without the owners’ knowledge and consent – including storing children’s private details.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service does not allow users to scrape Users IDs. Many marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, resulting thousands of $$$ in lost revenue.
- An independent 2010 study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites chosen at random, more than 90% had broken at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% had broken at least two of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were in breach 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 easy it is to become exposed to the risk of litigation through non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA or PPA Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Promoter
- AdWords User
- Product Publisher
- Amazon Affiliate
- EBay Seller
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Provider Of Freelance, Coaching Or Consulting Services
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
It’s vitally important to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your online business stays legally compliant.
Complying With 3rd-Party Companies
Complying with third-party services terms and policies is important.
You must let your site visitors know that your website complies with legal requirements and recommended guidelines. This not only improves consumer trust and confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of most companies you will engage with online.
Google requires websites to display certain information if using their services. This includes using features like Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Making money online with your websites using Google AdSense online advertising …
(Google AdSense advertising - policy requirements)
Or promoting your services or products via Google AdWords …
(Google AdWords – Policy Requirements)
If you sell products online through merchants like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant networks, you will need to add a number of legal pages to your website before your products are approved for sale …
(Policy requirements for ClickBank vendors)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also requires that you display clear disclaimers and policy statements on your website, especially when concerning the use of testimonials or product endorsements …
(FTC – consumer guidelines and regulations)
FTC Regulations Require Your Site To Comply
New FTC regulations governing how business is conducted 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 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 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 interests by making sure that your site is compliant with FTC guidelines.
Many online business resources provide guidelines for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help your business meet FTC requirements. See our additional resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(Word your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of the law)
Don’t Forget Social Media Applications
If you are planning to create apps that will integrate with your website, social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and many others require you to provide information about your legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are unsure whether you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of sites like Google, Facebook, etc., then it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote anything on your site using affiliate marketing, or generating revenue with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay ads, or driving visitors to your website using Google AdWords, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you are required to include on your site to comply with their 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, then it’s best to take proper precautions to avoid becoming a litigation magnet.
Essential Legal Pages You Should Include In Your Site
If you suspect that your website is lacking in aspects of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following legal pages to your website will help your site keep out of trouble with most consumer protection authorities and third-party service providers, and help to avoid potential legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Page
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the above, you may want to look into implementing any of these compliance pages:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you provide information about affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Links Policy
- Health Disclaimers (if your website or blog provides general information about health or medical areas)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
Disclosure Pages – Types
It’s important to add the right disclosures to your site. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs site users that you’re not being paid for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Lets visitors know that you may derive some form of financial benefit if they act on your recommendation and purchase through an affiliate link.
- Review Or Sample Copy – Informs readers that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product or service by the author or developer.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that informs your visitors that you have been compensated in some way to write the post.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs users 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 show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Compliance Pages To Your Website
Ideally, you will consult a lawyer or a legal firm and ask them to prepare the content of your legal documents. Once you have this, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Uploading Legal Pages Manually
If someone prepares and delivers the legal verbiage for you as standard web pages (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your server, or have someone upload them for you.
We recommend adding a legal directory to your web server and uploading your legal pages to this directory via FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your server using FTP)
You can then easily add links to these pages in WordPress using custom links in your menu administration …
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are fully up-to-date and clearly visible to all visitors. You can add these to your sidebar (or place them in the footer of your website or blog) so that visitors can access legal information from every page …
(It’s important to display links to legal pages to users on all of your website’s pages)
For a detailed tutorial about displaying links to pages on your WP sidebar or footer, refer to this step-by-step tutorial:
Use Legal Templates
You can find downloadable attorney-drafted disclosures and forms and agreements just by searching online, or by visiting sites like this one:
(Find Legal Forms – Legal forms)
Go here for more details:
Alternatively, you can purchase a set of legal templates written by legal attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(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 legal pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Page Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance (This proprietary FTC page accommodates new FTC regulations and guidelines brought into effect on March 2012)
- Terms of Service (ToS) & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new WordPress page for every legal form you want added to your site, then paste the content from the templates into your web pages and publish or upload your legal pages to your web server as previously described.
Go here for more info:
WordPress Legal Page Plugins
As well as using templates, another option for adding legal pages to your site is to use plugins.
Here are some great WordPress plugins that you should check out:
(WP Legal Pages Plugin)
If you don’t want to bother with creating legal pages manually, then consider choosing a plugin like WP Legal Pages …
This is not a free plugin, but it’s a reasonably low-priced and well-supported plugin that will make the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your site a lot easier and save you time.
Here are just some of the benefits of using the WordPress Legal Pages plugin:
- Built-in Legal Templates – The plugin gives you access to over 20 built-in legal page templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of the legal pages you need in around 3 minutes with just a few clicks of the mouse.
- Editable Pages – WYSIWYG editor lets you edit legal pages just like any other page on your site.
- Shortcodes – You can 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 check box and delete and manage these like any WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page or post lock down. Page unlocks and can be accessed only when users agree to your terms.
- Additional Features – More features get added to this plugin with every new version.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a menu item will appear inside your main navigation menu …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Legal Pages Menu)
This lets you create, edit and view legal pages from the admin area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings Screen)
With WPLegal Pages, you have the option of creating legal pages for different types of websites, such as business websites with products, affiliate sites, e-commerce sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Page Type)
Choose from a number of built-in legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – 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 using this WordPress plugin, visit the plugin website:
Compliance Bar is a simple WordPress plugin that includes over twenty customizable legal templates for your digital presence …
Go here to learn more about this plugin:
(Legal Suite Pro)
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 Plugin 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 less than one minute 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).
Go here for more information:
If using the services of lawyers to create your legal pages is out of your budget, then consider implementing some basic type of legal protection on your website until you can afford a solicitor.
We want your website to be legally safe!
Download the Legal Pages Generator software below (for FREE!), or consider using one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-prepared legal forms, or plugins - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
As stated earlier, if you are making money online, you need to ensure that your website is compliant with regulatory agencies and the terms of service and guidelines of 3rd-party products and services that you may decide to promote or recommend online. If your website isn’t compliant with laws designed to protect consumers, you’re breaking the law.
Being non-compliant 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 providing legal advice. We strongly advise you to do your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way of ensuring that your website fully complies with the law wherever your business is based.
Legal Resources & References
Here is a time-saving list of websites we suggest you visit to better understand what may be required of your website to stay compliant and meet its legal obligations:
- 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 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
- United States Copyright Office
In Addition …
- Google 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 this article has helped you understand the importance of having a legally compliant website. Use the information above to quickly and easily add all necessary legal pages to your WordPress website or blog using simple legal resources and solutions.
"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)