Is your WordPress site legal? Do you know if you are breaking any rules or regulations, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any third-party companies whose services or products you are doing business with?
As the digital economy continues to grow at an overwhelming speed and the rules keep changing, it’s vital to stay informed about what’s happening and ensure that your website or blog remains compliant with all laws and regulations, especially if your web presence plays a significant part in your business strategy.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 that regulate how businesses promote advertising on their sites 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 agencies, such as the US-based Better Business Bureau (BBB). Look up “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet for more details.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program)
These laws affect various online business categories, including:
- Any kind of advertising, including Google AdSense
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
You may also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to legal action.
In this article, we look at the importance of having a compliant website and show you inexpensive ways to help make your website legally compliant.
Does Your Website Comply With All Legal Requirements?
Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we cannot provide legal advice. As stated above, 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 online business practices and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of providers whose products or services you offer on your website or blog
Understanding The Importance Of Making Your Website Compliant
Consider what would happen to your business if any of these scenarios were to take place:
- A customer has a heart attack after they use your online fitness workout.
- The skin care products you sell as an affiliate marketer gives someone who purchases from your link allergic reactions.
- You’ve let your subscribers know that you won’t sell their information, but you haven’t informed them exactly what you’ll do with their details.
- Someone copies content from your site and puts it up on their own site.
- There is no statement on your website or blog telling your visitors that you are endorsing a product as an affiliate that you may get paid financial benefits if they buy it.
- You did not spell out the conditions of your return policies.
- Online visitors claim that the testimonials on your site are fake and try to sue you because of it.
- You did not disclose that you received a free copy in your product review.
- Your site contains adult content and you haven’t taken sufficient measures to restrict access by underage persons.
Consider now these actual 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 details to complete a debt reduction offer. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer received a whopping $800,000 fine for collecting personal information without users’ knowledge and consent – including storing children’s private information.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits users from scraping Users IDs. Many internet marketers gambled that they could get away with it and lost. Their accounts were shut down, resulting thousands of $$$ in lost revenue.
- An independently-conducted study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites chosen at random, more than 90% had infringed at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were breaking at least 2 of Google’s policies, and more than 40% had breached at least 3 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 they had violated, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to risk becoming targeted for litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA (Cost Per Action) or PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdWords User
- Product Marketer
- Amazon Affiliate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Coach or Consultant
- Online Seller Of Any Service Or Product
It’s vitally important to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your website or blog is fully compliant with the law.
Compliance With Third-Party Companies Terms And Policies
Compliance with third-party services terms and policies is important.
You must let your visitors know that your business complies will all legal requirements and professional guidelines. This not only increases trust and confidence in your business, it’s also required in many cases by most companies you will engage with.
Google requires you to display certain information if using many of their services. This includes using Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Generating revenue with your online properties using Google AdSense ads …
(Google AdSense - policy requirements)
Or promoting your services via Google AdWords …
(Google AdWords – Policy Requirements)
If you sell products online with companies such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant networks, you will need to add various legal pages to your site before your products can be approved for sale in their network …
(Policy requirements for ClickBank digital product vendors)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires you to include clear disclaimers and policy statements on your site, especially when concerning the use of testimonials or product endorsements …
(FTC – consumer policies 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 sites are unaware (or choose to flaunt) these requirements. As has already been the case, this often prompts the FTC to make an example of businesses and prosecute site owners in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any kind of business online, therefore, it’s best not to take chances. Even if your business is not located in the U.S. you should protect your business interests by making sure that your site complies with FTC guidelines.
You can find many business resources that can provide guidelines and examples on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help your business comply with 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 laws and regulations)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you are planning to create apps that will integrate with your website, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others will require you to provide 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 companies like Google, Facebook, etc., then assume that you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting products or services online as an affiliate marketer, or generate revenue online with Google AdSense, eBay or Amazon 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 - don’t risk having your accounts suspended.
- If you have ever wondered whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to avoid becoming a litigation magnet.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, almost all third-party websites require you to comply with their policies and guidelines)
What Compliance Information Pages Does My Website Need To Be Safe From Legal Compliance Issues?
If your web site is falling short in aspects of compliance, then this section will help you.
Adding the following compliance pages to your site will help your website keep out of trouble with most regulatory agencies and external providers, and even help to avoid possible legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “cease and desist” notices):
- About Us Page
- Contact Us
- Privacy Statement
- Terms & Conditions
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the pages above, you may want to look into including one or more of these legal pages where applicable:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you sell or promote affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Links Policy
- Health Disclaimers (if your website or blog provides general health or medical advice)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
Disclosure Pages – Types
It’s important to add the right types of disclosure pages to your site. For example:
- No Material Connection – Lets your visitors be aware that you will not receive compensation for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Disclosure that informs visitors that you will be compensated if they purchase through one of your affiliate links.
- Sample Or review Copy – Explains to your readers that you have received a review or sample copy of the product you’re writing about by the author or developer.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that lets visitors be aware that you have been compensated in some way to write the post.
- Third Party Advertising – Lets users 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 display prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
Adding Legal Pages To Your Site
Ideally, you will have a lawyer prepare the content of your legal documents. Once this has been done, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Uploading Legal Pages Manually
If someone prepares the legal verbiage for you in HTML format, you can simply upload these to your site, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend creating a legal folder in your server and uploading your legal pages to this folder using FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your web server using FTP)
You can then easily add links to your legal pages in WordPress using custom links in your menu administration …
(Custom WordPress Menu Feature)
Displaying Legal Web Pages On Your Website
Make sure that your legal pages are fully up-to-date and clearly accessible to your visitors. You can add links to your legal pages to your sidebar (or place them in the footer section of your site) to ensure that visitors can access the information from every web page …
(It’s important to display links to your legal pages on all of your site’s pages)
For a detailed tutorial about displaying links to pages on your sidebar and footer using widgets, see this step-by-step tutorial:
You can find attorney-prepared downloadable internet forms and agreements by searching online, or visiting websites like the ones listed below:
Alternatively, you can purchase a set of cut & paste legal templates designed by legal attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(Cut And Paste Website Legal Pages – Website Legal Pages)
These legal pages feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with simple search and replace to insert your own business details, then pasted into your legal web pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Forms include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance
- ToS & Conditions of Use: with inter- & intra-page redundancy, Contra Proferentem provision, reservation of rights, and exclusive social media admonition.
You can either create a new WordPress page for each legal form you want added to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload these to your web server as described previously.
Go here for more info:
WordPress Plugins – Legal Pages
As well as using legal templates, you can simplify things using a plugin.
Here are some great legal plugins for WordPress-driven websites and blogs you should check out:
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress)
If you don’t want to bother with creating legal web pages manually, then consider using WordPress Legal Pages instead …
This plugin is not free, but it’s a reasonably affordable and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will help make the task of creating and implementing legal pages on your website much easier and save you loads of headaches.
Some of the benefits of using WP Legal Pages are:
- Pre-written Templates – Over 20 built-in legal page templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Very Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of the basic legal pages you will need in around 3 minutes with a few mouse clicks.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WordPress content editor lets you edit all legal pages like every other WP page.
- Custom Shortcodes Integration – You can add shortcodes to your website or blog pages and the information will then be automatically inserted into your content when published.
- Exclude pages. The plugin lets you exclude pages from menus with a simple check box and delete and manage these like any other WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page lockdown. When a user agrees to your legal terms, the page unlocks, giving them access.
- New Features – The plugin is updated with new features when new versions are released.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a menu item will display inside your dashboard menu section …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Menu)
This allows you to create, edit and view legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Settings)
The plugin gives you the option of creating legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites, affiliate sites, medical sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Page type drop down menu)
Choose from a number of built-in legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – 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
Go here to learn more this plugin:
Compliance Bar Plugin is a complete compliance and disclaimer solution for your site …
Go here to learn more:
(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
- Terms And Conditions
- 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 site. You can have legal pages installed and set up on your site in less than one minute and the plugin licensing is very flexible, allowing you to install and use this plugin on all of your sites (even sites that you decide to sell or flip).
Go here for more details:
If hiring legal experts to create your online legal documentation is out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some basic type of legal protection on your site until you can afford to hire the services of a legal expert.
We want your site 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 ready-made legal page templates, or a WordPress legal pages plugin - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
Legal Pages Generator allows you to easily generate necessary legal documents for your website including ToS, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and Earnings Disclaimer.
As stated earlier, if you make money online, you need to make sure that your site is compliant with regulatory agencies and any terms of service (TOS) and guidelines for 3rd-party services and products that you may decide to promote or offer 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 do not provide legal advice. Do your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way to ensure that your website is compliant with all legal requirements concerning your specific business.
References And Resources
Below is a useful list of sites we suggest you visit to better understand what your business requires to stay compliant and meet 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
- 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
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- US 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 why it’s important to have a compliant website. Use the information provided above to quickly add essential legal pages to your WordPress website using simple and inexpensive methods and resources.
"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