Is your website legally compliant? Do you know if your site is breaking any rules or regulations, or breaching the Terms of Service (TOS) of any 3rd-party companies whose services or products you promote or sell?
Internet laws were designed to protect the rights of consumers and apply to anyone who sells, markets or promotes products and services online. Anyone who owns a website risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about the law will not prevent someone from taking legal action against your business.
New laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their sites clearly state that if you plan to promote anything on your website for profit, you will 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 referred to as BBB. Search online “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet to learn more.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program – Better Business Bureau)
The introduction of these laws has legal implications for several online business categories, including:
- Any kind of advertising, including contextual ads
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
You could also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to expensive litigation.
The purpose of this guide is to make you aware that your website or blog(s) may be required to comply with certain legalities in accordance with the laws that govern online business practices, the importance of remaining compliant with the terms of service of third-party providers whose services or products you may be recommending online, and that there are solutions that can help your site become more compliant, such as the tools listed further below.
Does Your Website Or Blog Comply With All Legal Requirements?
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice about your website or business. As previously stated, this article is designed only to make you aware that your website may be subject to certain legal requirements in accordance with federal, regional or local laws that govern your business and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of third-party providers whose products or services you advertise on your website
Why Ensuring That Your Website Is Compliant Is Important
Consider for a moment what the implications to your business would be if the following were to occur:
- Someone has a cardiac arrest after using your online fitness workout.
- The skin care lotion you promote as an affiliate marketer gives people an adverse reaction.
- You’ve informed your subscribers that you will not sell their information, but you have not clearly informed them what you’ll do with the details you’ve collected.
- Someone copies content from your site and puts it up on their own website.
- You have not divulged to your site users that you are an affiliate for the product you are selling and could earn a sales commission if visitors purchase it.
- You have not spelled out the terms of your refund policies.
- Your visitors claim that the testimonials on your site are false and try to sue you as a result.
- You have not disclosed that you have received a free copy of a product in your review.
- Your site includes adult information and you haven’t taken sufficient measures to keep underaged persons from accessing it.
Consider too the real examples 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 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 information about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits using software that scrapes Users IDs. 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 2010 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% had infringed at least 2 of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were breaking 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 infringed, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how a website owner can easily become exposed to the risks of non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA or PPA Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Product Marketer
- AdSense Publisher
- Niche Publisher
- Amazon Affiliate
- EBay Seller
- Adult Content Publisher
- Freelancer, Consultant Or Coach
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
it’s important to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your website or blog remains legally compliant.
Compliance With Third-Party Services - ToS, Policies, etc.
All of the big online companies and government trade regulatory agencies emphasize the need and importance of observing the terms and policies of service providers.
You must let your visitors know that your business complies with laws and professional guidelines. This not only improves consumer trust and confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of many companies you interact with online.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Google requires your site to display certain information if using many of their services or product features. This includes Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Earning revenue online with your blog using Google AdSense advertising …
(Google AdSense ads policy requirements)
And even promoting your business using Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you sell products online using merchants such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant sites, you will need to add legal pages to your site before your products can be approved for selling via their networks …
(Policy requirements for vendors selling via ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires you to add clear disclaimers and disclosures to visitors, especially concerning the use of product testimonials or endorsements …
(FTC – consumer guidelines and regulations)
New FTC Regulations Require Your Site To Comply
New FTC regulations governing the conduct of doing business online were introduced in March 2012. Search online and you will see that many business are unaware (or choose to flaunt) these requirements. As is already the case, this will most likely prompt 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 plan to do any type of business online, therefore, it’s best not to take chances. Even if your business does not operate in the U.S. you should protect your business by ensuring that your site is compliant with all FTC regulations and guidelines.
You can find many online business resources that can provide guidelines and examples for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help you meet FTC requirements. We provide a number of references at the end of this article …
(You must word your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you plan to create applications for your website, social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and many others will require you to provide information about various legal pages …
(Social networking apps also require compliance)
- If you are not sure whether you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of service providers like Google, Facebook, etc., then you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting services or products online using affiliate marketing, or generate revenue with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay 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 their Terms Of Service and policy requirements to avoid having your accounts shut down.
- If you have been wondering if “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to avoid becoming a litigation magnet.
Essential Legal Pages To Add To Your Website
If your website or blog is lacking in terms of compliance, then you will find this section helpful.
At its most basic, adding the following compliance pages to your site should help your business keep out of trouble with many regulatory agencies and 3rd-party service providers, and even help to avoid possible legal issues):
- About Us Page
- Contact Us
- Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the above, you may want to consider adding one or more of these legal pages:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you provide an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Links Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (e.g. if your website or blog provides general financial advice)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
- Video/Audio Terms (if you provide users with access to download videos or audio files on your site)
Disclosure Pages – Types
Adding correct disclosure information to your website is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Disclosure that informs readers that you will not receive any form of compensation for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Lets site users be aware that you will receive compensation if they act on your recommendation and purchase through an affiliate link.
- Sample/Review Copy – Informs your readers that you have received a sample or review copy of the product or service you’re writing about by the author or product developer.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that informs users that you were compensated in some way to write the article.
- 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 display prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Pages Content To Your WordPress Website
Ideally, you should have a lawyer prepare the content of your legal documents. Once you have this completed, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Upload Legal Web Pages To Your Site
If someone prepares the legal verbiage for you in HTML format, you can simply upload these to your server, or have someone upload them for you.
We recommend adding a legal directory to your server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this folder (e.g. using FTP) …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder in your web server and upload pages via FTP)
You can then easily add a link to these pages in WordPress using custom links in your menu administration …
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are up-to-date and clearly visible to visitors. You can add links to your legal pages to your sidebar (or the footer of your site) to ensure that users have access to the information from every page …
(It’s important to display legal pages to visitors on all of your site’s pages)
We have created a detailed tutorial on adding links to pages on your WP sidebar using widgets here:
You can easily find attorney-prepared downloadable forms and agreements just by searching online, or going to sites like this one:
(Find Legal Forms – Legal forms)
To learn more, visit this website:
Alternatively, you can purchase a set of legal templates created by legal attorney Scott Talbert to help businesses protect themselves online …
(Cut & Paste Website Legal Pages)
Cut & Paste website templates were written by an attorney and 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 business name and URL, then pasted into your pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Pages include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer: multi-discipline professional disclaimers
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance (This proprietary FTC page accommodates Federal Trade Commission regulations brought into effect in 2012)
- ToS & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new WordPress 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 your legal pages to your server as previously described.
Visit this site to learn more:
Legal Page Plugins
In addition to using legal templates, you can simplify things using WordPress plugins.
Here are some WordPress plugins you may be interested in checking out:
(WordPress Plugin – WordPress Legal Pages)
If the idea of manually setting up legal pages for your website seems too time-consuming for you, then consider installing WP Legal Pages …
WP Legal Pages is not a free plugin, but it’s a very affordable and well-supported plugin that will help simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your website and save you loads of headaches.
Here are just some of the benefits of using WP Legal Pages plugin:
- Pre-written Legal Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal page templates created by professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – 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 legal pages just like any page on your site.
- Custom Shortcodes – You can add shortcodes to any of your pages and the information will be automatically inserted into your pages when published.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like every other WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page or post lockdown. Page unlocks when users agree to your terms.
- New Features – The plugin is updated with new features when new versions are released.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu feature will appear inside your WP dashboard menu …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Menu)
This allows you to create, view and edit your legal pages from the admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings Area)
The plugin gives you the option to create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites with products, review sites, e-commerce sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Type of Site menu)
You can also select from a number of pre-written legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – 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 for more information about using this plugin:
Compliance Bar is a simple plugin for WordPress-driven sites containing over 20 customizable compliance page templates for your website …
(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 – 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 plugin licensing is flexible, allowing you to install and use this plugin on all of your websites.
If using the services of legal experts to create your legal pages is currently out of your budget, then consider implementing some basic kind of legal protection on your site until you can afford to hire a lawyer.
We want your business to be safe!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator tool below, or consider using one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using ready-made legal templates, or a plugin as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
Legal Pages Generator Software quickly generates essential legal documents for your website including Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and optional Earnings Disclaimer.
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you are making money online, you need to ensure that your site stays compliant with regulatory agencies and the terms of service and guidelines required by 3rd-party products and services that you may be promoting or using online. Your website must comply with a wide range of laws and regulatory guidelines, many of which you may not 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 cannot provide legal advice here. We strongly advise you to do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert to ensure that your website is compliant with all legal requirements pertaining to your business.
Here is a useful list of sites we recommend you visit to help you better understand what your website may require to remain compliant and meet its legal obligations:
- Federal Trade Commission Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- FTC Advertising & Marketing Rules Of the Road
- FTC Advertising And Marketing On The Internet
- Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program
- 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 compliant website. Use the information above to quickly and easily add all necessary legal pages to your website or blog.
"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