One of the worst things that can happen to you as a website owner is to break the law.
Online laws, regulations, and guidelines are designed to protect consumers and apply to any person who sells, markets or promotes products or services online. Every website owner risks being sued for not following compliance laws. Feigning ignorance about the law will not excuse you from being slapped with a legal notice.
New laws introduced in 2014 regulating how businesses promote advertising on their sites clearly state that if you promote anything on your website for commercial gain, then you will need to follow certain principles of disclosure to prevent enforceable orders being issued against you by regulatory agencies, such as the Better Business Bureau, also known as BBB. Look up “The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program,” which regulates behavioral advertising across the internet for more details.
(Better Business Bureau)
The new laws has legal implications for various business activities, including:
- Any form of advertising, like PPC advertising
- Retarget Marketing
- Google Analytics (or other analytics software)
- Affiliate Marketers
- Product Creators
More importantly, you may also be inadvertently leaving yourself open and vulnerable to legal action.
The purpose of this guide is to make you aware that your website are required to comply with legal requirements, the importance of remaining compliant with the terms of service of other providers whose products or services you may be recommending on your website, and that there are easy solutions for WordPress site owners that can help your websites become more compliant, such as the plugins listed further below.
Is Your Site Legally Compliant?
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice. As stated previously, this article is designed only to make you aware that your website may be subject to a number of legal requirements in accordance with the laws governing business practices online and that you may be required to comply with the terms of service of third-party providers whose products or services you recommend on your website or blog
The Importance Of Making Your Website Compliant
Consider what the implications to your business would be if any of the scenarios below were to happen:
- A person suffers a cardiac arrest after purchasing your online workout program.
- The skin cream you promote as an affiliate gives someone who purchases from your link allergic reactions.
- You’ve let your subscribers know that you will not sell their information, but you haven’t clearly informed them what you will do with their personal details.
- Someone copies your content and publishes it on their own site.
- There is no statement on your site making visitors aware that you are endorsing a product as an affiliate that you may earn a commission if they buy through your link.
- You didn’t spell out the terms of your return policies.
- A visitor claims your testimonials are fake and decides to sue you.
- You haven’t disclosed that you received a free copy of a product in your review.
- Your website includes adult content and you haven’t taken sufficient measures to restrict access by underage children.
Consider too the documented case studies of costly compliance breaches described:
- A CPA Marketer failed to provide adequate disclaimers telling online users they would be required to give up their personal information to complete his offer. In addition to a substantial $390,000 fine, they’re now required 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 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 Users IDs. 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 study by Brad Geddes of SearchEngineLand, showed that, of a couple of hundred websites picked at random, more than 90% had broken at least one of Google’s policies, more than 65% were in breach of 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 cautions or lose access entirely to the Google program with the infringement, which could result in loss of income (e.g. AdSense or AdWords).
Can you see how a website owner can easily become exposed to the risks of litigation?
Regardless of whether you are a:
- PPA (Pay Per Action) Marketer
- MLM Networker
- Affiliate Promoter
- AdWords User
- Product Marketer
- Amazon Affiliate
- e-Commerce Store Owner
- Publisher Of Adult Content
- Freelancer, Coach or Consultant
- Seller Of Any Product Or Service Online
It’s vitally important to ensure that your website or blog has the right legal pages and information displayed to site visitors.
Compliance With Third-Party Services
Compliance with third-party services terms and policies is important.
You must let your site users know that your business complies with all necessary laws and professional guidelines. This not only increases consumer trust and confidence in your business, it’s also a requirement of most companies you do business with.
Google requires your site to display legal information if using many of their services or features. This includes Google Analytics …
(Policy requirements for using Google Analytics)
Generating revenue online with your blog using Google AdSense ads …
(Google AdSense advertising - policy requirements)
And even promoting your products through Google AdWords …
(Google AdWords – Policy Requirements)
If you plan to sell information products using places such as ClickBank, JVZoo, or other established online merchant sites, you will need to add a number of legal pages before your products are approved for selling via their network …
(Policy requirements digital product vendors selling via ClickBank)
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also requires you to add clear disclaimers and disclosures on your site, especially when using product testimonials or endorsements …
(Federal Trade Commission – consumer policies and regulations)
FTC Regulations – Ensuring That Your Website Is Compliant
FTC regulations governing the conduct of businesses online were introduced in March 2012. A quick search online will reveal that many websites are 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 site owners for breaches of regulation in an effort to get other businesses to comply.
If you do any kind of business online, therefore, it’s best not to take any chances. Even if your business is not located in the U.S. you should protect your business by ensuring that your website complies with FTC guidelines and regulations.
There are many business resources that can provide guidelines and examples for structuring disclaimers and disclosures to help you comply with FTC requirements. We provide references and links to useful resources to some of these at the end of this article …
(It’s important to structure your disclaimers and disclosures correctly to avoid running foul of the law)
Don’t Forget Social Media Applications
If you plan to develop social networking applications for your website, you will also be required to provide sites like Facebook, Twitter, and many others with information about your legal pages …
(Apps that integrate with social networking sites like Facebook also require compliance)
- If you are unsure whether or not you are breaking the law, and/or Terms of Service policies and guidelines of organizations like Google, Facebook, etc., then you most probably are.
- If you are considering promoting anything on your site using affiliate marketing, or generating revenue online with Google AdSense, Amazon, or eBay ads, or using Google AdWords pay-per-click ads to drive visitors to your pages, etc., then find out exactly what kind of legal information you are required to include on your site to comply with their 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, take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business.
What Compliance Pages Do I Need To Add To My Site To Be Safe From Legal Compliance Issues?
If you suspect that your website is lacking in terms of compliance, then this section will help you.
At its most basic, adding the following compliance pages to your site should keep your business out of trouble with many regulatory agencies and external providers, and even help to avoid potential legal issues or even threats of legal action (e.g. “cease and desist” notices):
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Privacy Statement
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance
As well as the above pages, you may want to look into adding any of the pages listed below if applicable:
- Affiliate Agreement (e.g. if you provide an affiliate program)
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Compensation Disclosure
- External Links Policy
- Financial Disclaimers (if your website provides general financial information)
- Refund Policy (if you sell products or services online)
Types Of Disclosure Pages
Adding correct disclosure information to your website is important. For example:
- No Material Connection – Informs visitors that you will not receive any type of compensation for writing the post.
- Affiliate Links – Lets readers know that you will be compensated if they purchase through your affiliate links.
- Review/Sample Copy – Lets your visitors know that you have received a sample or review copy of the product or service.
- Sponsored Post – Lets your visitors know that you were compensated in some way to write the content.
- Third Party Advertising – Informs your 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.
Adding Legal Pages Content To Your Website
Ideally, you should have your lawyer prepare the content of your legal documents. Once these have been created, there are several ways to include them in your website.
Upload Legal Web Pages To Your Website
If someone prepares the legal content for you as standard web pages (e.g. HTML), you can simply upload these to your web server, or have someone upload them for you.
We recommend creating a legals directory in your server and uploading your legal pages to this directory using FTP …
(Upload legal pages to your web server via FTP)
You can then easily add a link to these pages from your WordPress site using a custom WordPress menu …
Make sure that your legal pages are kept up-to-date and clearly accessible to your visitors. You can add these to the sidebar menu (or the footer of your site) to ensure that users can access the information from every web page …
(It’s important to display links to legal pages on all of your website’s pages)
To learn more about adding links to pages on your WordPress sidebar or footer using widgets, refer to this tutorial:
You can find downloadable attorney-drafted website forms and agreements by searching online, or by going to sites like this one:
For more information, go here:
Another option is to download a set of legal templates written by attorney Scott Talbert to protect businesses online …
(Website Legal Pages)
These legal templates were created by an attorney and feature less passive voice and more plain language phrasing and can be easily customized with a simple quick search and replace to add your own details, then pasted into your pages.
The legal forms included in Scott Talbert’s Legal Page Templates include:
- Anti-Spam Policy
- Copyright Notice
- Disclaimer (multi-discipline professional disclaimers)
- DMCA Compliance
- FTC Compliance
- Terms of Service & Conditions of Use.
You can either create a new WordPress page 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.
Visit this website to learn more:
Legal Pages – WordPress Plugins
In addition to using copy & paste templates, another option for adding legal pages to your site is to use WordPress plugins.
Here are some legal plugins for WordPress-powered sites that you may be interested in checking out:
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin)
If creating legal pages manually feels too time-consuming for you, then consider installing WordPress Legal Pages …
The WP Legal Pages plugin is not free, but it’s a reasonably low-priced and well-supported plugin that will make the job of creating and implementing legal pages on your WordPress site much easier and save you many headaches.
Here are just some of the benefits of using WP Legal Pages plugin:
- Pre-written Templates – Includes over 20 built-in legal page templates created by a team of professional lawyers.
- Very Quick And Easy To Use – You can set up most of the legal pages you need in around 3 minutes with just a few mouse clicks.
- Easy To Edit Pages – WordPress content editor lets you edit legal pages like any page on your website.
- Shortcodes – You can add shortcodes to your WordPress pages and the information will be automatically inserted into your pages when published.
- Exclude pages. The plugin lets you exclude pages from menus with a simple checkbox and delete and manage these like any page on your site.
- Forced Options – Force page lock down. When a user agrees to your legal terms, the page unlocks.
- New Features – The plugin is updated with new features when new versions are released.
After installing WordPress Legal Pages, a new menu feature will be added to your main WordPress dashboard area …
(WP Legal Pages – Legal Pages 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 types of sites, such as business websites, review sites, medical sites, etc …
(WordPress Legal Pages Plugin For WordPress – Page Type)
You can also select from several pre-configured legal templates …
(WordPress Legal Pages – Pre-configured 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 useful plugin, go here:
Compliance Bar is a simple plugin for WordPress websites with over twenty customizable legal page templates for your online presence …
Go here to learn more:
(Legal Suite Pro)
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 And Conditions
- Earnings Disclaimer
(Legal Suite Pro – 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 powered site. Your legal pages can be 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 websites (even sites that you decide to sell).
For more details, go here:
If hiring lawyers to create your online legal documentation is out of your budget, consider implementing some basic type of legal protection on your website until you can afford to hire the services of a legal form or lawyer.
We want your business to be safe!
Download the FREE Legal Pages Generator software below, or use one of the better solutions we discuss in this article, such as using legal page templates, or a WordPress plugin as described in the section below.
(Legal Pages Generator)
As we’ve previously pointed out, if you engage in any form of business online (or plan to), you need to ensure that your site remains compliant with government regulations and any terms of service and guidelines for 3rd-party products and services that you may decide to promote or sell 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, we are not lawyers and we cannot provide legal advice. We strongly advise you to do your own due diligence and consult a legal expert about the best way to ensure that your website is compliant with all legal requirements wherever your business is based.
Below is a useful list of sites we recommend you visit to better understand what may be required of your site to stay compliant and meet its 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
- United States Copyright Office
- Analytics Help – Policy requirements for Google Analytics Advertising Features
- Google AdSense Program Policies Explained
- 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 presented above to quickly and easily add essential legal pages to your WordPress site using inexpensive methods and resources.
"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)