Is your WordPress site compliant? Do you know if your site is breaking any laws, or breaching the Terms of Service (TOS) of any companies whose products or services you promote or use?
Internet laws and regulations are designed to protect consumers and apply to any person who markets, sells or promotes goods and services online. Every website owner risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about legal requirements won’t protect someone from taking legal action against you.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 to regulate how businesses promote advertising on their websites state that if you plan to promote anything on your website for profit, you must follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection departments, such as the Better Business Bureau (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)
These laws affect several business activities, including:
- Any type of advertising, like contextual ads
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creation
If there are no legal pages on your website (e.g. terms of service, privacy statement, legal disclaimers, etc.), many third-party sites like Google won’t let you advertise, digital marketplaces like ClickBank won’t approve digital products on their network, PayPal may suspend your account and withhold payment of your funds, Facebook could suspend web applications, and you will not be allowed into various advertising or affiliate marketing networks.
More importantly, you may also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to expensive litigation.
In this article, we look at the importance of having a compliant website and how to quickly add legal pages to your WordPress website using simple methods and solutions.
Does Your Website Or Blog Comply With All Legal Requirements?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we cannot offer legal advice in this article. You must do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way to ensure that your website is compliant with the law in your country or region.
Understanding The Importance Of Making Your Website Compliant
Is your business at risk? Consider what the implications to your business would be if any of these scenarios were to occur:
- Someone has a heart attack after using your online fitness program.
- The skin care products you promote as an affiliate gives someone skin rashes.
- Your opt-in list displays a statement informing subscribers that you won’t sell their information, but you haven’t clearly informed them what you will do with their personal details.
- Someone steals your content and publishes it on their own website.
- There is no statement on your website making your site visitors aware that you are endorsing a product as an affiliate that you could earn a sales commission if visitors buy via your link.
- You haven’t spelled out the terms and conditions of your refund policies.
- A visitor claims the testimonials on your site are fake and tries to sue you because of it.
- You haven’t disclosed that you have received a free copy of the product you are reviewing.
- Your website contains adult-related content and you did not take appropriate measures to restrict access by underage persons.
Consider now these documented 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 information to complete an offer they were promoting. Cost = $390,000.
- A social networking app developer was slapped with a massive $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 does not allow users to scrape Users IDs. Many marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, costing them thousands of $$$ in lost revenue.
- An independently-conducted study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred randomly-picked websites, more than 90% had broken 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% 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 with warnings or lose access entirely to the Google program whose policies with the infringement, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how easy it is to risk becoming exposed to litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Promoter
- AdSense Publisher
- Niche Publisher
- Amazon Affiliate
- EBay Seller
- Adult Content Publisher
- Provider Of Freelance, Consulting Or Coaching Services
- Online Seller Of Any Product Or Service
It’s imperative to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your digital presence complies with all laws and regulations governing the use of your site, wherever you are located.
Complying With 3rd-Party Services - ToS, Policies, etc.
Complying with third-party companies terms and policies is important.
You must let your visitors know that your website complies with legal requirements and recommended guidelines. This not only increases consumer trust and buyer confidence in your business, it’s also a requirement of many companies you will do business with.
Google requires you to display certain information if using their products. This includes Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Generating revenue online with your WordPress site with Google AdSense advertising …
(Google AdSense online advertising policy requirements)
And even promoting your services or products through Google AdWords …
(Google AdWords – Policy Requirements)
If you plan to sell products online through merchants like ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant sites, you will need to add various legal pages before they will approve your products for selling via their network …
(Policy requirements digital product vendors selling via ClickBank)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires you to display clear disclaimers and policy statements on your site, especially when using product testimonials or endorsements …
(FTC – consumer policies and regulations)
New FTC Regulations Require Your Site To Be 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 ignore) these requirements. As is already the case, this will most likely prompt the FTC to make an example of businesses and prosecute site owners in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you do any kind of money-making activity online, therefore, it’s best not to take any chances. Even if your business is not physically located in the U.S. we strongly recommend protecting your business interests by ensuring that your website complies with FTC guidelines.
A number of resources online provide guidelines for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help your site 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 Applications
If you plan to create social networking applications that integrate with your site, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and many others require you to provide information about your legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are unsure whether you may be breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of organizations like Google, Facebook, etc., it’s best to assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote anything online via affiliate marketing, or make money online with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay ads, or driving visitors to your site using Google AdWords, 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’ve ever wondered whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, almost all third-party services require you to comply with their policies and guidelines)
What Compliance Pages Do I Need To Add To My Website To Be Compliant?
If your website is lacking in terms of compliance, then you will find this section helpful.
Adding the following legal pages to your site should help keep your business out of trouble with many consumer protection authorities and third-party service providers, and even help to avoid possible legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “take down” notices):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Website Disclaimer
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
Additionally, you may want to consider implementing one or more of the pages listed below:
- Affiliate Agreement (e.g. if you sell products or services through an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Linking Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (if your website provides financial content)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
- Audio/Video Terms (e.g. if you provide users with access to downloadable media on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding the correct type of disclosure is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – This lets visitors know that you are not receiving compensation for writing the article.
- Affiliate Links – Notifies users that you will derive some form of financial benefit if they buy through your affiliate links.
- Review/Sample Copy – Lets site users be aware that you have received a sample or review copy of the product or service by the author or developer.
- Sponsored Post – Informs readers that you were compensated in some form to write the article.
- Third Party Advertising – Lets visitors know that you’re using online behavioral tracking technology. This is required to satisfy the “enhanced notice” the Better Business Bureau has been requiring website publishers to display prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Pages To Your WordPress Website
Ideally, you will consult your lawyer or a legal firm and ask them to prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once these have been done, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Uploading Legal Web Pages Manually
If someone prepares the legal content 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 web server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this folder via FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your server using FTP)
You can then add a link to your legal pages from your WordPress site using custom links in your menu administration …
(Custom WordPress Menu Feature)
Make sure that your legal pages are fully up-to-date and display clearly to your visitors. You can insert these into your sidebar (or the footer section of your website or blog) to ensure that users have access to legal information from every web page …
(Display links to your legal pages on all of your website’s pages)
We have written a detailed tutorial about displaying links to pages on your sidebar here:
Ready-Made Legal Templates
You can easily find downloadable attorney-prepared internet forms and agreements just by searching online, or by going to websites like the ones listed below:
(FindLegalForms.com – Legal forms)
For more information, go here:
Another option is to download a package of cut & paste website legal templates designed by legal attorney Scott Talbert …
(Cut And Paste Website Legal Pages – Website Legal Pages)
Cut & Paste website templates feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with search and replace to add your own details, then pasted into your web pages.
The legal templates 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
- ToS & 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 for every 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 web server as described previously.
Legal Page Plugins
In addition to using copy & paste templates, another option for adding legal pages to your site is to use plugins.
Here are some plugins for WordPress users worth looking into:
(WordPress Legal Pages)
If you don’t want to spend time creating legal web pages manually, then consider installing WP Legal Pages …
WP Legal Pages is not a free plugin, but it’s a very low-priced and well-supported premium plugin that will help make the work of creating and implementing legal pages on your website much easier and save you many headaches.
Some of the benefits of using the WP Legal Pages plugin are:
- Pre-written Templates – Over 20 built-in legal page templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of your basic legal pages in a few minutes with just a few mouse clicks.
- Editable Pages – Content editor lets you edit legal pages like every other page on your site.
- Custom Shortcodes Integration – Add shortcodes to any of your pages and the information will be automatically inserted into your pages when you publish.
- Exclude pages. The plugin lets you exclude pages from menus with a simple check box and delete and manage these like every other page on your site.
- Forced Options – Force page lockdown. When users agree to the terms, the page unlocks.
- Additional Features – More features get added to this plugin with each new version.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu item will appear inside your WordPress dashboard area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Legal Pages Menu)
This lets you view, create and edit your legal pages from the admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Settings)
You have the option of easily creating legal pages for different types of websites, such as business websites, review websites, medical sites, etc …
(WP Legal Pages – Create different legal page types)
You can also choose from a number of built-in legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Built-In 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
To learn more about using this great plugin, visit this site:
complete website compliance and disclaimer solution …
(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
- 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 one minute or less and the plugin licensing is flexible, allowing you to install and use the plugin on all of your sites.
Go here for more details:
If using the services of legal experts to create your legal documentation is out of your budget, then at least consider implementing some basic kind of legal protection on your website until you can afford legal services.
We want your site to be safe!
Download the Legal Pages Generator tool below (for FREE!), or choose one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using legal templates, or plugins - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
Legal Pages Generator quickly generates essential legal documents for your website including ToS, Privacy Statement, Copyright Notice, Website Disclaimer and optional Earnings Disclaimer.
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you make money online (or are planning to), you need to ensure that your website is compliant with all government regulations and the terms of service (TOS) and guidelines for 3rd-party services and products that you may decide to promote or advertise online. Your website or blog must comply with a whole range of laws and regulatory guidelines, many of which you may not even 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, please note that we are not lawyers and we offer no legal advice here. You are strongly advised to do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert to ensure that your website is compliant with all legal requirements concerning your specific business.
References And Legal Resources
Here is a useful list of sites we suggest you visit to better understand what your site may require to remain compliant and meet its legal obligations:
- Federal Trade Commission Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- Federal Trade Commission Advertising & Marketing Rules Of the Road
- FTC Advertising And Marketing On The Internet
- BBB – 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
- 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 add all necessary legal pages to your WordPress website or blog.
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