One of the worst situations you can find yourself in as a business owner is to be on the wrong side of the law.
As the digital way of life continues to grow at an overwhelming speed and the rules of the game keep changing, it’s vital that you stay on top of what’s happening and ensure that your website remains legal, especially if your web presence is a fundamental factor in your business strategy.
New laws introduced in 2014 to regulate how businesses promote advertising on their websites clearly state that if you plan to promote anything on your website for profit, you will need to follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection departments, such as the US-based Better Business Bureau (BBB). Search online “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet for more details.
(BBB – Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program)
These laws has ramifications for various online business categories, including:
- Any kind of advertising, like contextual advertising
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creators
If your site does not display certain pages to visitors (e.g. terms of service, privacy statement, financial disclaimers, etc.), many third-party sites like Google won’t let you advertise, digital marketplaces like ClickBank or JVZoo won’t allow you to list digital products, PayPal could suspend your account, Facebook could reject your applications, and you will not be allowed into various advertising or online merchant networks.
More importantly, you could also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to expensive litigation.
The purpose of this guide is to help make you aware that your website or blog(s) may be subject to certain legal requirements, the importance of remaining compliant with the terms of service of external providers whose products or services you may be endorsing online, and that there are solutions that can help your websites become fully compliant, such as the plugins discussed further below.
Is Your Site Breaking Rules Or Regulations?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice on this website. As previously stated, the aim of this article is only to make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal requirements in accordance with federal, regional or local laws and regulations that govern business practices online and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of third-party providers whose services or products you advertise on your website
Why Making Your Website Compliant Is Important
Consider for a moment what the implications to your business would be in the following scenarios:
- Someone has a cardiac arrest after using your online fitness program.
- The skin care lotion you promote as an affiliate marketer gives a number of users an allergic reaction.
- You’ve told subscribers that you won’t sell their information, but you have not clearly informed them what you will do with it.
- Someone copies content from your website and publishes it on their site.
- There is no statement on your website or blog making visitors aware that you are endorsing a product as an affiliate that you may earn financial benefits if visitors purchase it.
- You did not spell out the terms and conditions of your refund policies.
- A visitor claims your testimonials are false and decides to sue you.
- You have not disclosed that you were given a free copy in a product review.
- Your website publishes adult information and you did not take appropriate measures to keep underaged children from accessing it.
Consider now these actual examples of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling online users they would be required to give up personal information (including credit card details to complete his offer. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer copped a whopping $800,000 fine for collecting personal information from mobile device address books without the owners’ knowledge and consent – including storing private information about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits users from scraping Users IDs. Many marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, costing them thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independent study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred randomly-picked websites, more than 90% had breached 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 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 with warnings 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 you could be exposed to the risk of non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Promoter
- AdWords Advertiser
- Niche Marketer
- Amazon Affiliate
- EBay Seller
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Consultant Or Coach
- Online Seller Of Any Service Or Product
It’s imperative to make sure that your website remains legally compliant.
Compliance With 3rd-Party Companies
All the leading online companies and government trade regulatory agencies emphasize the need of observing the terms and policies of 3rd-party service providers.
You must let your site users know that your business complies will all laws and professional guidelines. This not only increases trust and buyer confidence in your business, it’s also a requirement of many companies you do business with online.
Google requires your site to display legal information if using many of their products. This includes using features such as Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Making money online with your website using Google AdSense …
(Google AdSense ads policy requirements)
Or promoting your services or products through Google AdWords …
(Google AdWords – Policy Requirements)
If you plan to sell information products through companies like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant networks, you will need to add legal pages before your products are approved for sale …
(Policy requirements for using ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires that you add clear disclaimers and statements to visitors, especially concerning the use of testimonials or product endorsements …
(FTC – consumer guidelines and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensuring That Your Site Is Compliant
FTC regulations governing how business is conducted online were introduced in March 2012. Search online and you will see that many business are still unaware (or choose to flaunt) these requirements. As is already the case, this typically prompts the FTC to make an example of businesses and prosecute website owners for breaches of regulation in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any kind of selling online, therefore, it’s best not to take any chances. Even if your business does not operate in the U.S. you should protect your business interests by ensuring that your site complies with FTC guidelines.
Many sites provide guidelines on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help you meet FTC requirements. See the additional resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(Structuring your disclaimers and disclosures correctly is important to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Social Media Applications Also Require Compliance
If you plan to develop apps for your site, social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others will require you to provide information about various legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are not sure whether or not you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of organizations like Google, Facebook, etc., then it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting anything on your site using affiliate marketing, or monetizing your pages with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay ads, or use Google AdWords to drive visitors to your pages, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you need to display on your site to comply with all 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, then it’s best to act now and take proper precautions to protect yourself and your website.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, most third-party websites require you to comply with their policies and guidelines)
What Legal Pages Do I Need To Add To My Site To Be Covered Against Legal Compliance Issues?
If you suspect that your web site is lacking in terms of compliance, then this section will help you.
Adding the following legal pages to your website will help your website keep out of trouble with many regulatory agencies and third-party service providers, and help to avoid potential legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “take down” notices):
- About Us Page
- Contact Us
- Privacy Statement
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the above, you may want to look into including one or more of these compliance pages:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you provide information about affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Linking Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (e.g. if your website provides general content about financial areas or money-making opportunities)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
- Media Terms (if you provide users with access to download videos or audio files on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding the correct type of disclosure to your website is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs visitors that you will not receive for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Lets readers know that you may derive some form of financial benefit if they buy through your affiliate links.
- Review/Sample Copy – Lets site users know that you have received a review or sample copy of the product or service.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that lets site users be aware that you have been compensated in some form to write the post.
- Third Party Advertising – Lets visitors know that you’re using online behavioral tracking technology. This is required to comply with the “enhanced notice” the Better Business Bureau has been requiring online publishers to show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
Adding Legal Pages Content To Your WordPress Website
Ideally, you will consult lawyers and ask them to prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once this has been created, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Upload Legal Web Pages Manually
If someone prepares the legal verbiage for you as standard web pages (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your web server, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend adding a legals folder to your web server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this folder (e.g. via FTP) …
(Upload legal pages to your web server via FTP)
You can then add a link to these pages in WordPress using a custom WordPress menu …
(Custom WordPress Menu Feature)
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are up-to-date and display clearly to your visitors. You can insert links to your legal pages into your sidebar menu (or the footer of your website or blog) to ensure that visitors can access legal information from all pages …
(Display links to your legal information to users on all of your website’s pages)
We have created a detailed tutorial about adding links to pages on your sidebar and footer menu here:
Use Store-Bought Legal Templates
You can find downloadable attorney-prepared forms and agreements by searching online, or by visiting sites like this one:
(Find Legal Forms)
Another option is to purchase a set of website legal templates designed by legal attorney Scott Talbert to help businesses protect themselves online …
(Cut & Paste Website Legal Pages)
Cut & Paste website legal pages were created by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with a quick search and replace to add your own business name and URL, then pasted into your web pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Forms include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer (multi-discipline professional disclaimers)
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC 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 page for each legal form you want to add to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload your legal pages to your web server as described earlier.
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 plugins for WordPress sites worth looking into:
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress)
If you don’t want to spend time creating legal web pages manually, then consider using a plugin like WP Legal Pages instead …
WordPress Legal Pages is not a free plugin, but it’s a reasonably low-priced and well-supported premium plugin that will make the work of creating and implementing legal pages on your WordPress site much easier and save you many headaches.
Some of the reasons to consider using WP Legal Pages are:
- Built-in Legal Templates – Over 20 built-in legal templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of your basic legal pages in around 3 minutes with a few clicks of the mouse.
- Editable Pages – WordPress content editor lets you edit legal pages just like any page on your website.
- Custom Shortcodes Integration – You can add shortcodes to your WordPress 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 other page on your site.
- Forced Options – Force page lockdown. Page unlocks and can be accessed when the user agrees to your legal terms.
- New Features – New plugin features get added when new versions are released.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu item will appear in your main WP dashboard menu section …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Menu)
This allows you to create, edit and view legal pages from the admin area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Settings Screen)
With WP Legal Pages, you can easily create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites with products, affiliate websites, medical sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages – Page type drop down menu)
Choose from several built-in legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Pre-configured 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
Visit this website to learn more about using this handy plugin:
Compliance Bar is a simple plugin for WordPress websites and blogs that includes over twenty customizable compliance page templates for your digital presence …
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin 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 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 plugin licensing is flexible, allowing you to install and use the plugin on all of your sites (even sites that you decide to sell).
To learn more, visit this site:
If using the services of legal experts to create your legal documentation is out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some basic type of legal protection on your website until you can afford professional assistance.
We want your business to be legally protected!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator software below, or choose one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using ready-made legal documentation, or plugins as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
Legal Pages Generator quickly generates essential legal documents for your website including Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and Earnings Disclaimer.
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you engage in any form of business online (or plan to), it’s important that your website is compliant with government laws and regulations and the guidelines and terms of service provided by third-party sites that you may be promoting or recommending online. If your website isn’t compliant with laws designed to protect the rights of consumers, 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?
Disclaimer: Once again, we are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice on this website. We strongly advise you to do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way of ensuring that your website is compliant with all legal requirements in your country or region.
Here is a time-saving list of sites we suggest you visit to help you better understand what your site may require to stay compliant and meet its legal requirements and guidelines:
- FTC 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 – 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
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- US Copyright Office
- 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 compliant website. Use the information above to quickly and easily add all necessary legal pages to your website or blog using simple and cost-effective legal resources and solutions.
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