Is your website legally compliant? Do you know if your site is breaking any laws, or contravening the Terms of Service (TOS) of any 3rd-party companies whose services or products you use or promote?
Online laws, regulations, and guidelines were designed to protect the rights of consumers and apply to any person who markets, sells or promotes products and services online. Anyone who owns a website risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about legal requirements will not prevent 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 site for material gain, you will need to follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection 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 to learn more.
(Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program – Better Business Bureau)
The new laws has legal consequences for several business categories, including:
- Any kind of advertising, e.g. text link advertising, Google Adsense, etc.
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
If your site does not display certain pages (e.g. terms and conditions of use, privacy statement, legal disclaimers, etc.), many sites like Google won’t let you advertise, sites like ClickBank or JVZoo will not approve your digital products for sale, PayPal may suspend your account, Facebook could suspend your applications, and you won’t be allowed to promote various advertising or online marketing networks.
Plus, you may also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to expensive litigation.
In this guide, we discuss why it’s important to have a legally compliant website and how to quickly add legal pages to your WordPress site using simple methods and resources.
Does Your Site Comply With The Law?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we are not offering legal advice on this website. As stated above, the purpose of this article is to make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal requirements in accordance with the laws that govern business and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of providers whose services or products you endorse
Understanding The Importance Of Making Your Website Compliant
Is your business at risk? Consider what the implications to your business would be in the following scenarios:
- A person suffers a heart attack after purchasing your online workout program.
- The skin care products you sell as an affiliate marketer gives people an allergic reaction.
- Your opt-in list provides a statement that lets subscribers know that you will not sell their information, but you haven’t clearly spelled out what you plan to do with their details.
- Someone copies your content and puts it up on their own website.
- You did not tell your visitors that you are recommending a product as an affiliate that you could derive a financial benefit if they decide to purchase using your link.
- You didn’t spell out the terms of your return policies.
- Visitors claim that the testimonials on your site are fake and decide to sue you.
- You haven’t disclosed that you received a free copy in a product review.
- Your website contains adult-related information and you didn’t take sufficient measures to keep underage persons from accessing it.
Consider also the following documented case studies of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would be required to give up personal information to complete a debt reduction offer. In addition to a hefty $390,000 fine, they’ve also been ordered to issue everyone he does business with for the next 20 years, a copy of the judgement — including employees.
- A social networking app developer received a massive $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 UIDs. Many 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 2010 study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred randomly-chosen websites, more than 90% had infringed at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were in breach of at least 2 of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were in violation 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 to the Google program with the infringement, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how you could become exposed to the risk of litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdSense Publisher
- Niche Publisher
- Amazon Associate
- EBay Seller
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Consultant Or Coach
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
It’s imperative to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your website or blog complies with all laws governing the use of your site, wherever you are located.
Complying With Third-Party Companies
Complying with third-party services terms and policies is important.
You are required to let your site visitors know that your website complies with all necessary laws and recommended guidelines. This not only improves trust and buyer confidence in your site, it’s also a requirement of most companies you interact with online.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Google requires you to display certain information when using many of their services. This includes using Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Generating revenue with your WordPress sites using Google AdSense online advertising …
(Google AdSense advertising - policy requirements)
And even promoting your site through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you sell information products via merchants like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant sites, you will need to add a number of legal pages to your website before your products can be approved for sale …
(Policy requirements for selling through ClickBank)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires that you display clear disclaimers and policies to visitors, especially when concerning the use of 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. Search online and you will see that many websites are still unaware (or choose to ignore) these requirements. As has happened in the past, this will most likely prompt the FTC to make an example of businesses and prosecute companies 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 any chances. Even if your business is not located in the U.S. it’s best to protect your business by ensuring that your website is compliant with FTC guidelines and regulations.
You can find many business resources that can provide guidelines and examples for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help you meet FTC requirements. See our additional references and useful resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(Wording your disclaimers and disclosures correctly is important to avoid running foul of the law)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you are planning to develop social networking applications for your website, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others will require you to provide access to various legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are not sure whether you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of websites like Google, Facebook, etc., then you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote anything on your site as an affiliate marketer, or make money online 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 need to include on your site to comply with all Terms Of Service and policy requirements - don’t risk having your accounts shut down.
- If you have ever wondered 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.
What Legal Information Pages Does Your Website Need To Be Protected From Legal Compliance Issues?
If your website or blog is falling short in areas of compliance, then you will find this section helpful.
At its most basic, adding the following legal pages to your website should help keep your business out of trouble with many consumer protection agencies and external providers, and help to avoid possible legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “take down” notices):
- About Us Page
- Contact Page
- Terms And Conditions
- Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
In addition to the pages above, you may want to look into adding any of the pages listed below if applicable:
- Affiliate Agreement (if you provide an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Links Policy
- Health Disclaimers (e.g. if your website provides general health or medical advice)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Video/Audio Terms (e.g. if you allow users to download media on your site)
Disclosure Pages – Types
It’s important to add the right disclosure information to your site. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs site users that you are not being paid for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Discloses to visitors that you may benefit financially if they buy through an affiliate link.
- Sample/Review Copy – Lets your readers know that you have been given a sample or review copy of the product or service you’re writing about.
- Sponsored Post – Discloses to site users that you have been compensated in some form to write the article.
- Third Party Advertising – Lets readers 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 website publishers to display prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
Adding Legal Pages Content To Your Site
Ideally, you should have a lawyer prepare the content of your legal documents. Once you have this completed, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Upload Legal Web Pages Manually To Your Site
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 creating a legals directory in your web server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this folder via FTP …
(Create a ‘legals’ folder in your server and upload pages via FTP)
You can then easily add a link to these legal pages from your WordPress site using a custom WordPress menu …
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are fully up-to-date and clearly visible to your visitors. You can add links to your legal pages to your sidebar (or place them in the footer section of your site) so that users have access to the information from every page …
(It’s important to display links to legal pages on all of your site’s pages)
We have written a detailed tutorial about adding links to pages on your WP sidebar using widgets here:
You can easily find downloadable attorney-prepared forms and agreements just by searching online, or by visiting sites like this one:
Find Legal Forms
To learn more, visit this website:
Another option is to purchase a package of cut & paste legal templates designed by legal attorney Scott Talbert to help businesses protect themselves online …
Cut And Paste Website Legal Pages
(Cut & Paste Website Legal Pages – Website Legal Pages)
These legal pages were written by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with a quick search and replace to add your own details, then pasted into your pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Website Legal Templates 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 and guidelines brought into effect on March 2012)
- Terms of Service & Conditions of Use: includes inter- & intra-page redundancy, Contra Proferentem provision, reservation of rights, and exclusive social media admonition.
You can either create a new page on your website for each legal form you want to add to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your web pages and publish or upload the pages to your server as described earlier.
For more information, go here:
WordPress Legal Plugins
As well as using templates, you can keep things very simple by using a plugin.
Here are some legal plugins for WordPress users you should check out:
WP Legal Pages Plugin
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress)
If the idea of creating legal pages manually seems too time-consuming for you, then consider installing WordPress Legal Pages instead …
This plugin is not free, but it’s a very low-priced and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will make the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your site much easier and save you a great deal of time and effort.
Here are just some of the reasons to consider using WP Legal Pages plugin:
- Pre-written Legal Templates – Over 20 built-in legal templates created by professional lawyers.
- Very Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of your basic legal pages in a few minutes with a few mouse clicks.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WordPress content editor lets you edit all legal pages just like any other page on your site.
- Custom Shortcodes – Add shortcodes to any of your website or blog pages and the information is then 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 WordPress page.
- Forced Options – Force page or post lock down. Page unlocks and can be accessed when 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 menu item is added to your main dashboard section …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Legal Pages Menu)
This lets you create, edit and view your legal pages from the admin area …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings)
You have the option of creating legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites, review sites, medical sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Page Type)
Choose from several built-in legal templates …
(WP 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
Visit this site to learn more about using this powerful plugin:
Compliance Bar – WordPress Plugin For Website Compliance
Compliance Bar is a simple plugin for WordPress sites with over 20 customizable compliance page templates for your online presence …
For more details, visit the plugin site here:
Legal Suite Pro Plugin
(Legal Suite Pro For WordPress)
Legal Suite Pro 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 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. You can have legal pages installed and set up on your site in one minute or less and the license allows you to install and use the plugin on all of your sites.
For more information, go here:
If hiring lawyers to create your legal documentation is currently out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some basic form of legal protection on your website until you can afford to hire the services of a lawyer.
We want your business to be legally safe!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator tool below, or choose one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using ready-made legal page templates, or plugins - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
Legal Pages Generator Software quickly generates basic 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 do business online, it’s important that your website stays compliant with regulatory agencies and the terms of service and guidelines for 3rd-party services and products that you may decide to promote or sell 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 offer no legal advice here. Do your own due diligence and consult legal experts to ensure that your website fully complies with all legal requirements in your country or region.
Legal Resources And References
Below is a time-saving list of additional sites we suggest you visit to help you better understand what your website may require to comply and meet its legal requirements and guidelines:
- 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 – Better Business Bureau
- 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
- 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
We hope you have found this article useful and that it has helped you understand why it’s important to have a legally compliant website. Use the information above to quickly add all necessary legal pages to your WordPress website or blog.
"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