Is your WordPress site legally compliant? Do you know if you are breaking any laws, rules or regulations, or breaching the Terms of Service (TOS) of any third-party companies whose products or services you are recommending or offering?
Online laws are designed to protect the rights of consumers and apply to anyone who markets, sells or promotes goods or services online. Every website owner risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about the law won’t protect you from being slapped with a legal notice.
New laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their websites state that if you promote anything on your website 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 (US based) Better Business Bureau (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)
The introduction of these new laws affect various business activities, including:
- Any type of advertising, including Google AdSense
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
More importantly, you could also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to expensive litigation.
This article explains the importance of having a compliant website and lists simple and cost-effective solutions that will make your website or blog compliant quickly and easily.
Does Your Website Comply With All Legal Requirements?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice in this article. As stated previously, this article is designed only to make you aware that your website may be subject to certain legal policies in accordance with the laws and regulations governing business practices online and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of 3rd-party providers whose services or products you promote on your website
The Importance Of Making Your Website Compliant
Consider for one moment what could happen to your business if any of the following were to take place:
- A user has a cardiac arrest after purchasing your online fitness program.
- The skin care products you promote as an affiliate marketer gives someone skin rashes.
- Your opt-in list provides a statement that lets subscribers know that you will not sell their information, but you have not defined what you’ll do with their personal details.
- Someone steals your content and publishes it on their own site.
- There is no statement on your website letting your site visitors know that you are an affiliate for the product you are marketing that you could earn a commission if visitors purchase it.
- You did not spell out the terms and conditions of your refund/return policies.
- A visitor claims that your testimonials are false and tries to sue you.
- You didn’t disclose that you were given a free copy in your product review.
- Your site publishes adult information and you haven’t taken appropriate measures to keep underage persons from accessing it.
Consider now these real 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 (including credit card info 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 private details about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service prohibits users from scraping UIDs. Many internet marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, costing them thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independent 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 breached at least 2 of Google’s policies, and more than 40% had infringed 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 violated, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to become exposed to the risks of non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdWords User
- Product Marketer
- Amazon Affiliate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Consultant Or Coach
- Seller Of Any Service Or Product Online
It’s imperative to ensure that your digital presence is fully compliant with the law.
Complying With Third-Party Services - ToS, Policies, etc.
Complying with 3rd-party companies terms and policies is important.
You are required to let your visitors know that your business complies will all legal requirements and professional guidelines. This not only improves trust and confidence in your website, it’s also a requirement of most companies you will engage with.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Google requires websites to display certain information when using their services. This includes using services like Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Making money online with your WordPress blogs using Google AdSense ads …
(Google AdSense online advertising policy requirements)
Or promoting your services or products through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you sell information products with places like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant sites, you will need to add legal pages to your site before your products can be approved for sale …
(ClickBank – policy requirements for product sellers)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires you to add clear disclaimers and statements to visitors, especially if you plan to use testimonials or product endorsements …
(FTC – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensuring That Your Site Is Compliant
FTC regulations governing how business is conducted online were introduced in March 2012. A quick search online will reveal that many sites are still unaware (or choose to ignore) these requirements. As documented on their website, this often ends up with the FTC making an example of businesses and prosecuting site owners for breaches of regulation in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any type of selling online, therefore, it’s best not to take chances. Even if your business is not physically located in the U.S. we strongly recommend protecting your business by ensuring that your website is compliant with FTC regulations.
Various sites provide guidelines for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help your site meet FTC requirements. We provide additional references and links to resources to some of these at the end of this article …
(Word your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of the law)
Social Media Apps Also Require Compliance
If you plan to create apps for your site, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others require you to provide access to your legal pages …
(Facebook 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 companies like Google, Facebook, etc., then assume that you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting anything on your site via affiliate marketing, or generate revenue with Google AdSense, eBay or Amazon advertising, 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 all Terms Of Service and policy requirements - don’t risk having your accounts suspended.
- If you’ve been wondering whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to avoid becoming a litigation magnet.
What Compliance Information Pages Does My Website Need To Be Legally Compliant?
If you suspect that your website is lacking in areas of compliance, then this section will help you.
Adding the following compliance pages to your site will help your business stay out of trouble with most regulatory authorities and 3rd-party providers, and help to avoid possible legal issues):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Privacy Statement
- Terms And Conditions
- Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the above, you may want to look into adding any of these legal pages:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you provide an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Links Policy
- Health Disclaimers (if your website provides advice about health or medical areas)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Use Of Media (if you allow media downloads on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding the right type of disclosure to your site is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – This lets visitors be aware that you will not be receiving any type of payment for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Lets site users know that you may benefit financially if they act on your recommendation and purchase through your affiliate link.
- Review/Sample Copy – Lets your readers be aware that you have received a sample or review copy of the product you’re reviewing or writing about.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that lets your readers be aware that you have been compensated in some form to write the post.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs users that you’re using online behavioral tracking technology. This is required to comply with the “enhanced notice” the Better Business Bureau has been requiring website publishers to show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
Adding Legal Content To Your WordPress Site
Ideally, you will consult a lawyer and ask them to prepare the content of your legal documents. Once you have this completed, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Upload Legal Pages To Your Website
If someone prepares the legal verbiage for you in standard web page format (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your site, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend creating a legal directory in your server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this directory using FTP …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder on your server and upload pages via FTP)
You can then easily add links to these legal pages in WordPress using a custom WordPress menu …
Where To Display Legal Web Pages On Your Website
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are fully up-to-date and clearly visible to all site visitors. You can add links to your legal pages to your WordPress sidebar (or the footer section of your website or blog) so that users have access to the information from every web page …
(Display links to legal pages on all of your website’s pages)
To learn more about adding links to pages on your sidebar, refer to this tutorial:
Using Ready-Made Legal Templates
You can find downloadable attorney-drafted website forms and agreements by searching online, or by going to sites like this one:
(Find Legal Forms – Attorney-drafted legal forms)
Another option is to purchase a package of legal templates created by legal attorney Scott Talbert …
(Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Form Templates)
These 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 details, then pasted into your pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Page Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer (multi-discipline professional disclaimers)
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance
- Terms of Service & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new page on your website for each legal form you want added to your site, then paste the content from the templates into your pages and publish or upload the pages to your server as described previously.
WordPress Legal Plugins
In addition to using copy & paste templates, another option is to use a plugin.
Here are some legal plugins for WordPress users worth looking into:
(WordPress Plugin – WP Legal Pages)
If the idea of setting up legal pages manually seems too time-consuming for you, then consider installing WP Legal Pages instead …
This plugin is not free, 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.
Some of the benefits of using the WP Legal Pages are:
- Built-in Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal page templates created by professional lawyers.
- Very Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of your basic legal pages in around 3 minutes with a few mouse clicks.
- Easy To Edit Pages – Full WYSIWYG editor lets you edit all legal pages like every other page on your site.
- Shortcodes – You can add shortcodes to any of your WordPress pages and the information is then automatically inserted into your content when you publish.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like any WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page lockdown. Page unlocks and can be accessed only when user agrees to your terms.
- New Features – More features get added to this plugin with every new version.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu feature will appear in your navigation menu …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Legal Pages Menu)
This lets you create, edit and view your legal pages from the admin area …
(WP Legal Pages – Settings Screen)
With WPLegal Pages, you have the option of easily creating legal pages for different types of websites, such as business websites with products, affiliate sites, e-commerce sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages – Page Type)
You can also select from several pre-written legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Built-In 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 the plugin website for more details about this plugin:
Compliance Bar is a simple WordPress plugin containing over twenty customizable compliance templates for your website …
Go here to learn more about this plugin:
(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
- 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 have packaged high quality, professionally written legal disclaimers into a plugin that can be installed quickly on any WordPress powered 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 sites.
To learn more, visit this site:
If hiring a lawyer to create your legal pages is out of your budget, consider implementing at least some basic kind of legal protection on your site until you can afford legal services.
We want your business to be legally protected!
Download the Legal Pages Generator software below (it’s FREE!), or choose one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using attorney-prepared legal forms, or a plugin - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator Software)
Legal Pages Generator Software allows you to easily generate essential legal documents for your website including ToS, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and Earnings Disclaimer.
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you do any kind of business online (or plan to), it’s important that your website is found to comply with regulatory agencies and the terms of service (TOS) and guidelines required by 3rd-party services and products that you may decide to promote or use online. Your internet presence must comply with numerous regulations, some of which you may not be aware of.
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, we are not lawyers and we are not offering legal advice on our website. We strongly advise you to do your own due diligence and consult legal experts to ensure that your website fully complies with all legal requirements concerning your specific business.
References And Resources
Below is a useful list of websites we suggest you visit to 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
- 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
- US Patent and Trademark Office
- US 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
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the importance of having a compliant website. Use the information provided above to quickly and easily add essential legal pages to your site using simple and inexpensive legal resources and WordPress plugins.
"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group