One of the worst things that can happen to you as a website owner is to be on the wrong side of the law.
Internet laws and regulations are designed to protect consumers and apply to any person who sells, markets or promotes products or services online. Anyone who owns a website risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about legal requirements will not excuse you from being slapped with a legal notice.
Recent laws introduced in 2014 to regulate how businesses promote advertising on their sites state that if you promote anything on your website for commercial gain, you must follow certain disclosure guidelines to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by consumer protection agencies, such as the BBB, or Better Business Bureau. 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 has ramifications for various business activities, including:
- Any form of advertising, including Google AdWords or AdSense
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketing
- Product Creation
Without legal pages on your site (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 will not let you list your digital products for sale, PayPal may suspend your account and freeze your funds, Facebook will suspend your applications, and you will not be accepted into most advertising and online marketing networks.
In addition, you could also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to litigation.
This article explains why it’s important to have a legally compliant website and how to quickly and easily add legal pages to your WordPress site using inexpensive resources and solutions.
Does Your Website Comply With The Law?
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that we are not lawyers and we cannot provide legal advice about your website or business. You must do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way of ensuring that your website is compliant with all legal requirements wherever you do business.
Understanding The Importance Of Making Your Website Compliant
Are you at risk? Consider for one minute what could happen to your business if any of the following scenarios were to occur:
- A customer suffers a cardiac arrest after using your online fitness program.
- The skin cream you sell as an affiliate gives people an adverse reaction.
- Your opt-in list provides a statement informing prospective subscribers that you will not sell their information, but you have not clearly spelled out what you plan to do with the information you’ve collected.
- Someone steals your content and publishes it on their own site.
- There is no statement on your site making your visitors aware that you are an affiliate for the product you are recommending and will get paid financial benefits if visitors purchase it.
- You did not spell out the terms of your refund policies.
- Someone claims that the testimonials on your site are fake and decides to sue you.
- You didn’t disclose in a product review that you were given a free copy of the product.
- Your site includes adult information and you didn’t take sufficient measures to keep underaged persons from accessing it.
Consider also these actual examples of costly compliance breaches:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling visitors they would be required to give up personal information (including credit card details to complete an offer they were promoting. In addition to a significant $390,000 fine, he was also ordered to give 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 private details about children.
- Facebook’s Terms Of Service does not allow users to scrape UIDs. Many internet marketers gambled that they could get away with it 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 randomly-chosen websites, more than 90% were breaking at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were breaking at least two 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 with warnings or lose access 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 you could easily be exposed to the risks of litigation through non-compliance?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- CPC (Cost Per Conversion) Marketer
- Multilevel Marketer
- Affiliate Promoter
- AdSense Publisher
- Info Product Publisher
- Amazon Affiliate
- EBay Seller
- Adult Content Publisher
- Provider Of Freelance, Coaching Or Consulting Services
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
It’s vitally important to make sure that your online business remains legally compliant.
Compliance With Third-Party Services Terms And Policies
All the big websites and government agencies that regulate trade emphasize the need and importance of complying with the terms and policies of service providers.
You must let your site visitors know that your business complies will all laws and recommended guidelines. This not only increases trust and buyer confidence in your business, it’s also a requirement of most companies you will engage with online.
Google requires you to display legal information when using many of their services. This includes using features such as Google Analytics …
(Google Analytics – Policy Requirements)
Making money online with your WordPress blog with Google AdSense ads …
(Google AdSense policy requirements)
Or promoting your services through Google AdWords …
(Policy requirements for using Google AdWords)
If you sell digital products via places such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established merchant sites, you will need to add various legal pages to your website before your products are approved for selling via their networks …
(Policy requirements digital product vendors using ClickBank)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also requires that you include clear disclaimers and statements on your website, especially if you plan to sell or promote products with the aid of testimonials or product 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. A quick search online will reveal that many websites are still unaware (or choose to flaunt) these requirements. As has already been the case, this will most likely prompt the FTC to make an example of businesses and prosecute companies for breaches of regulation 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 chances. Even if your business does not operate in the U.S. it’s best to protect your business by ensuring that your site complies with all FTC regulations and guidelines.
Many resources online provide guidelines on how to structure disclaimers and disclosures to help you meet FTC requirements. See our additional resources section at the end of this article for more information …
(It’s important to word your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of the law)
Don’t Forget Social Media Applications
If you plan to develop applications for your website, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and many others require you to provide access to various legal pages …
(Facebook developer app – policy requirements)
- If you are unsure as to whether or not you are 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 as an affiliate marketer, or monetize your pages with Google AdSense, ads for eBay or Amazon products, or driving visitors to your site with Google AdWords, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you are required to display 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, then it’s best to take proper precautions to avoid becoming a magnet for litigation.
(In addition to legal and regulatory compliance, almost all 3rd-party websites require you to comply with their policies)
Basic Legal Pages You Should Add To Your Site
If your web site is falling short in aspects of compliance, then you will find this section helpful.
Adding the following legal pages to your website will help keep your business out of trouble with most regulatory agencies and 3rd-party service providers, and even help to avoid possible legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “cease and desist” notices):
- About Us
- Contact Page
- Disclaimer Pages
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the pages above, you may want to look into including one or more of the following pages if applicable:
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you provide information about affiliate products and services)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Earnings Disclaimer
- External Links Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (if your website provides information about financial areas or money-making opportunities)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
It’s important to add the right disclosure information to your website. For example:
- No Material Connection – This lets users know that you will not receive any form of payment for writing the content.
- Affiliate Links – Disclosure that informs users that you will benefit financially if they purchase through affiliate links on your site.
- Review Or Sample Copy – Lets visitors be aware that you have received a sample or review copy of the product.
- Sponsored Post – Lets visitors be aware that you have been compensated in some way to write the post.
- Third Party Advertising – Lets your 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 online publishers to show prominently on their sites since January 1, 2014.
How To Add Legal Pages To Your Website
Ideally, you will have your lawyer prepare the verbiage of your legal documents. Once you have this done, there are several ways to add them to your website.
Upload Legal Web Pages To Your Site
If someone prepares the legal content for you as standard web pages (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 web server and uploading your legal pages to this directory using FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your web server via FTP)
You can then add a link to your legal pages in WordPress using custom links in your menu feature …
(Custom WordPress Menu Feature)
Displaying Legal Web Pages On Your Website
Make sure that your legal pages are up-to-date and clearly visible to all site visitors. You can add links to your legal pages to the sidebar (or place them in the footer section of your site) so that users have access to the information from all of your pages …
(Display links to your legal pages on all of your website’s pages)
To learn more about adding links to pages on your sidebar or footer, refer to this tutorial:
You can easily find attorney-prepared downloadable website forms and agreements by searching online, or going to sites like the ones shown below:
(Find Legal Forms – Legal forms)
Alternatively, you can purchase a set of cut & paste website legal templates written by attorney Scott Talbert to help businesses protect themselves online …
(Cut And Paste Website Legal Pages – Website Legal Pages)
These legal pages were created by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be customized with simple search and replace to add your own business name and URL, then pasted into your web pages.
The legal templates included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Pages include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer (multi-discipline professional disclaimers)
- DMCA Compliance
- Federal Trade Commission Compliance
- ToS & 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 these to your server as previously described.
Legal Page Plugins
In addition to using copy & paste templates, you can keep things very simple using WordPress plugins.
Here are some legal WordPress plugins you may be interested in using:
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin)
If creating legal pages manually feels too time-consuming for you, then consider choosing WP Legal Pages …
The WP Legal Pages plugin is not free, but it’s a very low-priced and well-supported premium WordPress plugin that will simplify the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your website and save you a great deal of time and effort.
Some of the benefits of using the WordPress Legal Pages plugin are:
- Built-in Templates – The plugin gives you access to over 20 built-in legal templates created by professional lawyers.
- Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of your basic legal pages in a few minutes with just a few clicks of the mouse.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WYSIWYG editor lets you edit all legal pages like every other WP page.
- Custom Shortcodes Integration – Add shortcodes to any of your website or blog pages and the information is then automatically inserted into your pages when you publish.
- Exclude pages. Exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like any other page on your site.
- Forced Options – Force page lockdown. Page unlocks and can be accessed only when users agree to your terms.
- New Features – The plugin is updated with new features when new versions are released.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu feature is added to your navigation menu …
(WP Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Legal Pages Menu)
This allows you to create, edit and view your legal pages from your admin area …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Settings Screen)
You can create legal pages for different types of sites, such as business websites with products, niche websites, AdSense sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin – Page Type)
Choose from a number of pre-configured legal templates …
(WP Legal Pages – 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
To learn more about this plugin, go here:
complete website compliance & disclaimer solution …
For more details, visit the plugin site here:
(Legal Suite Pro Plugin)
Legal Suite Pro Plugin For WordPress 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 Plugin 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 plugin licensing is very flexible, allowing you to install and use this plugin on all of your sites.
If using the services of legal experts to create your online legal documentation is out of your budget, then consider implementing at least some type of legal protection on your site until you can afford a lawyer.
We want your business to be protected!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator software below, or consider using one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using legal page templates, or a plugin - see section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
Legal Pages Generator Software quickly generates necessary 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 do any type of business online, it’s important that your website stays compliant with all regulations and any terms of service and guidelines required by 3rd-party products and services that you may be promoting or recommending online. Your website or blog must comply with a wide range of regulations, many 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, please note that we are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice. Do your own due diligence and consult legal experts about the best way of ensuring that your website is compliant with all legal requirements wherever your business is based.
References And Resources
Below is a time-saving list of additional sites we suggest you visit to better understand what may be required of your site to stay 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
- 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
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- United States 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 compliant website. Use the information above to quickly add legal pages to your WordPress website.
"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