As a business owner, you do not want to find yourself breaking laws, rules or regulations.
As the digital realm continues growing at an overwhelming speed and the rules keep changing, it’s important to try and stay informed about what’s happening and ensure that your site remains compliant with all laws and regulations, especially if your web presence plays a significant part in your overall business strategy.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their sites clearly state that if you plan to promote anything on your website for profit, you need to follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory agencies, 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.
(Better Business Bureau – Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program)
These laws has consequences for several online business activities, including:
- Any type of advertising, e.g. pay-per-click advertising
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creators
If your site does not display certain pages to visitors (e.g. terms of service, privacy statement, earning disclaimers, etc.), many sites like Google won’t let you advertise, online merchants like ClickBank or JVZoo will not allow you to list digital products, PayPal may suspend your account and freeze your funds, Facebook could reject web applications, and you won’t be allowed into many advertising or affiliate merchant networks.
In addition, you may also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to litigation.
The purpose of this post is to make you aware that your site(s) are required to comply with various legalities, the importance of remaining compliant with the terms of service of external providers whose services or products you may be selling on your website, and that there are solutions that can help your site become compliant, such as the plugins that we list further below.
Is Your Website Legally Compliant?
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we cannot provide legal advice. As previously stated, this article is designed only to make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal policies in accordance with the laws governing business and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of third-party companies whose services or products you endorse on your website or blog
The Importance Of Making Your Website Compliant
Are you at risk? Consider for one minute what would happen to your business in the following scenarios:
- A customer has a cardiac arrest after purchasing your online workout program.
- The skin care products you sell as an affiliate marketer gives a number of users an adverse reaction.
- You’ve told subscribers that you will not sell their information, but you have not described exactly what you’ll do with their details.
- Someone steals content from your site and puts it up on their own site.
- There is no statement on your website or blog informing visitors that you are an affiliate for the product you are endorsing and may earn a financial benefit if visitors decide to purchase via your affiliate link.
- You did not spell out the terms of your refund policies.
- Your visitors claim the testimonials on your site are fake and decide to sue you because of it.
- You did not disclose that you have received a free copy in a product review.
- Your website publishes adult-related information and you did not take appropriate measures to restrict access by underaged children.
Consider now these documented examples of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would be required to give up their personal information to complete an offer they were promoting. In addition to a substantial $390,000 fine, he was also ordered to provide a copy of the judgement to everyone he does business with for the next 20 years — including employees.
- A social networking app developer copped 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 using software that scrapes UIDs. Many internet marketers took a risk and lost. Their accounts were shut down, resulting thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
- An independently-conducted 2010 study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites picked at random, more than 90% had breached at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% had breached at least 2 of Google’s policies, and more than 40% were breaking 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 notices 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 being a target of litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPA Marketer
- Network Marketer
- Affiliate Product Promoter
- AdSense Publisher
- Product Publisher
- Amazon Associate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Consultant Or Coach
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
it’s important to do whatever is necessary to make sure that your digital presence has the right legal pages and information accessible to site visitors.
Compliance With 3rd-Party Companies Terms And Policies
Complying with third-party services terms and policies is important.
You are required to let your site users know that your business complies with legal requirements and professional guidelines. This not only increases trust and confidence in your business, it’s also a requirement of many companies you do business with.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Google requires you to display legal information when using their products and service. This includes using features like Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Generating revenue online with your sites with Google AdSense online advertising …
(Google AdSense display advertising policy requirements)
And even promoting your services through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you sell products online through places such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant networks, you will need to add a number of legal pages to your website before they will approve your products for selling via their network …
(Policy requirements for using ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission also requires that you add clear disclaimers and statements on your website, especially if you plan to use product testimonials or endorsements …
(FTC – consumer policies and regulations)
New FTC Regulations Require Your Site To Be Compliant
New FTC regulations governing the conduct of doing business 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 has happened in the past, this often ends up with the FTC making an example of businesses and prosecuting companies for breaches of regulation in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you plan to do any type of money-making activity 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 by ensuring that your website is compliant with all FTC guidelines.
A number of business resource sites provide guidelines for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help you meet FTC requirements. We provide links to resources to a number of these at the end of this article …
(Structuring your disclaimers and disclosures correctly is important to avoid running foul of laws and regulations)
Don’t Forget Social Media Apps
If you are planning to develop social networking applications that integrate with your site, you will also be required to provide social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others with information about your 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 sites like Google, Facebook, etc., then assume that you most probably are.
- If you plan to promote products or services on your site as an affiliate marketer, or monetizing your pages with Google AdSense, ads for eBay or Amazon products, or using Google AdWords to drive visitors to your pages, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you are required 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 been wondering whether “borrowing” a Copyright Notice is Copyright infringement, then it’s best to act now and take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business interests.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, almost all third-party websites require you to comply with their policies and guidelines)
What Legal Pages Do You Need To Add To Your Website To Be Legally Compliant?
If your website is lacking in terms of compliance, then this section will help you.
Adding the following compliance pages to your website should help your website stay out of trouble with most regulatory authorities and 3rd-party service providers, and help to avoid potential legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “takedown” notices):
- About Us Page
- Contact Us
- Terms & Conditions
- Website Disclaimer
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the pages above, you may want to consider implementing one or more of the pages listed below:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you promote or sell affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Links Policy
- Health Disclaimers (if your website provides general content about health or medical areas)
- Refund Policy (if you run an e-commerce site)
- Use Of Media (e.g. if you allow media downloads on your site)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
It’s important to add the right disclosure information to your website. For example:
- No Material Connection – This lets your readers be aware that you will not receive compensation for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Lets visitors be aware that you may derive some form of financial benefit if they buy through one of your affiliate links.
- Sample/Review Copy – Lets site users know that you have received a review or sample copy of the product or service.
- Sponsored Post – Disclosure that informs your readers that you have been compensated in some way to write the post.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs visitors 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.
How To Add Legal Pages Content To Your Website
Ideally, you should have your lawyer prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once these have been done, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Upload Legal Pages Manually To Your Site
If someone prepares and delivers the legal content for you in HTML format, you can simply upload these to your web server, or have someone upload these pages for you.
We recommend creating a legals directory in your server and uploading HTML pages containing your legal documentation to this directory (e.g. using FTP) …
(Upload legal pages to your web server using FTP)
You can then add a link to your legal pages in WordPress using a custom WordPress menu …
After uploading your legal pages, make sure that these are fully up-to-date and clearly accessible to your visitors. You can insert these into your sidebar menu (or place them in the footer of your site) to ensure that visitors have access to legal information from all your pages …
(It’s important to display links to legal information on all of your website’s pages)
For a detailed step-by-step tutorial on displaying links to pages on your WordPress sidebar or footer using widgets, refer to this tutorial:
You can find attorney-drafted downloadable website forms and agreements just by searching online, or by going to sites like this one:
Visit this website to learn more:
Alternatively, you can purchase a package of cut and paste website legal templates written by legal attorney Scott Talbert …
(Cut & Paste Website Legal Pages)
Cut & Paste website legal pages feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with a quick search and replace to insert your own business details, then pasted into your legal web pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Forms include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance
- Terms of Service (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 WordPress page for every legal form you want added to your website, then paste the content from the templates into your web pages and publish or upload these to your server as previously described.
WordPress Plugins – Legal Pages
In addition to using legal templates, another option for adding legal pages to your site is to use WordPress plugins.
Here are some plugins for WordPress users worth looking into:
(WordPress Plugin – WP Legal Pages)
If you don’t want to spend time creating legal web pages manually, then consider choosing WordPress Legal Pages instead …
WP Legal Pages is not a free plugin, but it’s a very low-priced and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will make the task of creating and implementing legal pages on your WordPress site much easier and save you a great deal of time and effort.
Some of the benefits of using WP Legal Pages plugin are:
- Built-in Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal page templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – Set up most of the legal pages you will need in around 3 minutes with just a few clicks of the mouse.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WYSIWYG editor lets you edit all legal pages just like any WordPress page.
- Custom Shortcodes Integration – Add shortcodes to your website or blog pages and the information will be automatically inserted into your pages when published.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like any other WP page.
- Forced Options – Force page lock down. Page unlocks when the user agrees to your terms.
- Additional Features – More features are being added to this plugin with each new version.
When you install WordPress Legal Pages, a menu item will display inside your dashboard menu …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin – Menu)
This lets you create, view and edit your legal pages from the admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Settings Area)
The plugin gives you the option to create legal pages for different online uses, such as business websites with products, review websites, AdSense sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Create different legal pages)
Choose from a number of 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
To learn more this WordPress plugin, go here:
Compliance Bar Plugin is a complete compliance and disclaimer solution for your digital presence …
To learn more about this plugin go here:
(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 have packaged high quality, professionally written legal disclaimers into a plugin that can be installed quickly on any WordPress 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 this plugin on all of your sites.
For more details, go here:
If hiring a lawyer to create your legal documentation is out of your budget, 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 safe!
Download the Legal Pages Generator tool below (for FREE!), or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using ready-made legal page templates, or a WordPress plugin as described in the 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 stated earlier, if you engage in any form of business online (or are planning to), it’s important that your site remains compliant with legal requirements of government agencies that regulate business online and the guidelines and terms of service provided by 3rd-party products and services that you may be promoting or advertising online. Your website must comply with numerous regulations, some 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?
Legal Disclaimer: Once again, please note that we are not lawyers and we cannot provide legal advice on this website. You are strongly advised to do your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way of ensuring that your website fully complies with all legal requirements in your country or region.
Below is a time-saving list of additional sites we suggest you visit to help you better understand what your site may require to stay compliant and meet legal obligations:
- FTC Latest List Of Rules & Regulations
- FTC Advertising & Marketing Rules Of the Road
- FTC Advertising And Marketing On The Internet
- Better Business Bureau – 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
In Addition …
- 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 and easily add all necessary legal pages to your WordPress site using simple legal resources and WordPress plugins.
"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now